This holiday season, don’t let the spirit of giving lull you into giving muggers, thieves and pickpockets a better chance to do their dirty work.  They do some of their biggest business during the holiday season. People are rushing around, stressed out and careless, trying to get everything done.  It’s enough to make a crook giddy with holiday joy! 

Here are some tips on how to safely enjoy the holiday season.

Be extremely careful using ATM machines
Use them in populated places and be constantly paying attention to what’s going on around you. 

Try to go during the daylight hours.  

If you must go at night, pick a machine that is well lit and visible to passing traffic. 

If anyone is lurking near the machine, pass it up and find another.

At the Mall

Try to shop when the mall is less crowded -- during the weekday, or at night when malls stay open late for holiday shoppers. Avoid the weekend rush, when it's easy to lose children among crowds. 

Don't dangle your handbag from your shoulder. You are creating a perfect setup for a purse-snatcher. Instead, keep your purse tucked tightly under your arm, or better yet, don't even carry a purse. Wear a fanny pack facing the front instead.  *Besides allowing your hands to be free to hold onto or carry your child, you’ll eliminate the possibility of leaving your purse behind or having it stolen.

If you use pockets, place your checkbook, cash, or credit cards in your front pockets. Only bring one or two credit cards and a limited amount of cash with you.

Spread your money around in different pockets. That way a pickpocket can't clean you out by reaching into one location.

Avoid carrying your checkbook, cash, and credit cards all together in one wallet, because a thief who gets the whole package together can cash checks with your identification and run up a large credit card bill in a short amount of time. Keep your keys separate, too.

Don't "flash" large rolls of money in public. You never know who's watching! 

Check to see you’ve been given back your card once you’ve paid for what you bought.

Watch your credit card slip being filled out - and make sure it's not passed through the machine more than once. Ask for your carbons.
Destroy the carbons, but keep your credit card receipts and check them against monthly bills.

Make a list of your major credit cards, their account numbers and the phone numbers to call if cards are lost. Keep this list at home.

If you’re not sure a shopping bag will be available, take one of your own to the mall.

In the Parking Lot
Always park where there is plenty of light, not only around your car, but also from your car to the mall or store entrance. 

Once your car is parked, familiarize yourself with its location so you can find it without delay. 

Don't hesitate to ask for a security escort if you feel unsafe.

Use the trunk of your car to keep your packages out of sight.  

 Keep your car locked at all times.  

 When walking through parking lots, be sure that you are aware of your surroundings. Walk with authority. Don't look like a victim!

Have your keys in your hand before you go to your car.