Chief urges caution shopping online, in stores

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By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Gadsden Police Chief John Crane knows most folks are familiar with the Christmas precautions law enforcement agencies have given out for years — don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicle or your home, don’t shop alone, lock doors and draw curtains in your home.
All those precautions should be followed, he said, along with some new ones dealing with shopping online.
Crane said before purchasing anything online, people should confirm the “https” in a web site address, which indicates it is a secure site, as does a “lock” symbol at the bottom of the screen. Be sure your computer’s security software is updated, also, Crane recommended.
In fact, Crane suggested the best option could be foregoing use of your credit cards online. Instead, purchase a prepaid disposable credit card for a set amount of money. That way, if your personal information is compromised, there is a limit to how much damage thieves can do.
While shopping in-store, Crane said, don’t fill your arms with packages, so that a purse left vulnerable and you are unable to do anything to prevent someone grabbing it. Take a friend to help carry packages.
Crowded stores are an ideal place for small children to wander away from parents. Crane said parents should discuss with children what to do if they get separated in a store – to go to customer service, or find a store clerk. He recommended practicing — go into a store and ask your child, “what would you do if you couldn’t find me?”
Crane advised teaching children to remember their full name, address and phone number in case they get lost.
Teach children if someone tries to lead them from a store to yell “You’re not my parent,” to get attention. “We’ve all seen crying children being taken out of a store,” Crane said. “If they need to cry, teach them to cry out something like that.”

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