Portage Co. Crime Stoppers: Holiday shopping tips - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Portage Co. Crime Stoppers: Holiday shopping safety tips

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) - ' Tis the season for gift-giving and for some -- taking. Portage County Crime Stoppers advises to use caution when shopping in stores and online.

"You have to be vigilant to protect your identity. Unfortunately, the holidays are a time when criminals take advantage of people," Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas said.

There are some things you can do to avoid getting ripped off this holiday season. First, when shopping online, update software beforehand to patch security vulnerabilities in your devices.

Second, avoid unencrypted public wireless networks. They are convenient but are more vulnerable to security threats.  

Third, shop known businesses with secure websites. Look for the icon of a locked padlock or "https" in the URL address.

When shopping in stores, you need to remain alert to what's going on around you.

"In recent weeks, credit card skimmers have been discovered at ATM's and gas station pumps in our area. You need to watch out for this. And if it is suspicious, do not use it," Lukas said.

 Also, pay attention to what shoppers around you are doing.

"If someone is behind you in line and trying to see your pin number, you need to be proactive and watch out for this kind of behavior," the sheriff said.

Lukas suggests parking close, in a well-lit area, when shopping at a store. Walk with purpose and again keep a watchful eye out. 

"Keep your key fob handy. If someone is following you, click on your panic alarm. This draws attention to what's going on and the burglar or bad guy will usually take off," Lukas said.

The toll-free Portage Co. Crime Stoppers hotline is 1-888-346-6600. You can remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.

                                             

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