How to make sure your money is safe this festive season

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Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images
Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images

The festive season is when you’re more likely to lose your hard-earned money in petty, or serious, crimes.

As you’re doing your Christmas shopping, so are criminals: they know consumers are carrying more cash this time of year, and are more likely to let their guard down because they’re caught up in the joys and stresses of the holidays.

Here are a few tips to keep you and your cash safe during this time: FOR GROUPS We all know cash is king, and so do thieves. Savings clubs and stokvels, take note of the following: Arrange for members to deposit cash directly into the club or stokvel’s account instead of collecting cash contributions. Arrange to make electronic payouts either into members’ bank accounts.

There are other electronic cash transfer services available from different banks, if a member doesn’t have a bank account. Change the venue for your gatherings every week if cash is collected during meetings. Share money and groceries in secure places.

Urge members not to tell other people where and when money and groceries will be shared. Don’t make cash deposits or contributions on high-risk days such as Mondays after month-end and Fridays. There is safety in numbers, so whoever deposits the cash contributions must be accompanied by one or more members.

Have police numbers on hand so that you can report any concern about anyone suspicious immediately.

For Individuals

To avoid becoming a statistic, consider the following tips: Carry as little cash as possible. Consider making use of cellphone banking, internet banking options or ATMs to do banking.

Never make your bank visits public, even to those close to you. If you have to carry large amounts of cash, never carry all of it in your wallet. Break it up into smaller amounts and hide these bundles in different places on your body to reduce the impact of any criminal incident.

Always keep your money and other valuables as close to your body as possible. There are different kinds of bags or items you can buy for carrying valuables such as personal documents or money on your person at all times.  

WHILE SHOPPING

Plan your shopping trips. During the festive season, shopping malls are abuzz with activity and criminals are just waiting to loot your gifts and valuables.

It’s best to make several small shopping trips rather than one large trip. This will reduce the amount of money and items you have to carry and transport. Don’t shop alone. If you plan on purchasing costly items like cellphones, tablets, televisions, etc., or you want to do all your shopping in one big swoop, take someone with you. Keep your hands free.

Never overload yourself with packets or hard-to-control items like two trolleys or a big home appliance because you need clear visibility and freedom of movement to avoid unpleasant surprises. Don’t get distracted. Be aware of strangers approaching you for no reason.

Con artists might try various methods of distraction to get your attention off your items. They then take your money or belongings. Keep packages out of sight. Always lock packages (whether big or small), handbags and all valuables in the boot of your car.

These items can attract unwanted attention if left in view of hungry eyes. Remember to park in well-lit areas too, especially at night.

Social Media Updates

Many of us are tempted to tell the whole world about how excited we are about our holiday, especially if we’re going out of town or overseas.

However, it’s dangerous to broadcast your movements, and when your house is going to be left unattended, on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, for example.

Make sure only close family and friends are aware of your whereabouts during the holidays.

Thieves and criminals also want to celebrate the festive season and they’ll make sure they find a way to do it in style – at your expense.

So, plan your cash dealings wisely and be vigilant to make sure you’re not on their list of Christmas victims.    

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