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The holiday season is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, but it is also a busy time for consumers shopping for holiday items and presents. Often, they get distracted, putting their safety at risk.

“We all want to enjoy the holidays and stay safe and healthy, as the pandemic is still with us. It is also important to remember to keep your guard up because the month of December has the highest rate of home crime and scams. Rampant activity of porch pirates and the spate of smash-and-grab robberies in our malls and retail stores is very troubling,” says Joanne Fraser, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. “Regardless of how you’re shopping this holiday season, please be cautious in stores and online.”

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® shares the following holiday home safety tips:

  • Keep the outside of your home well-lit. When you leave your home, place your inside lights on timers to make it appear occupied.
  • Trim your shrubs to about three feet and trees to no more than 10 feet to prevent burglars from lurking around your home.
  • Always keep your doors locked.
  • Do not place gifts under the Christmas tree where burglars can see them. Place a blanket over the presents, so they are not in full view of a window.
  • Do not overload wall outlets and extension cords.
  • Never use indoor extension cords outside.
  • If you have a live Christmas tree, cut two inches off the trunk, mount the tree on a sturdy stand, and keep it well-supplied with water and away from candles or a fireplace.
  • After the holidays, do not advertise your gifts by leaving their boxes at the curb for garbage collection. Break down the boxes or take the big boxes to a recycling center.
  • Social distancing is one of the best tools to minimize exposure and the spread of the coronavirus. When indoors with more than one person, wear a mask, maintain a distance of at least six feet. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Be aware of holiday scams:

  • When shopping at a mall or retail store, always be aware of your surroundings. Thieves watch to see if you are distracted.
  • Shop during the day, and if possible, shop with a group. Hide packages in your car and lock your doors.
  • Be aware that thieves place skimmers that look authentic on ATM machines. It is best to use an ATM that is inside a secure building.
  • If you can, use a credit card when you shop because debit cards typically do not have protection against fraud. Any fraudulent transaction made using your debit card will deduct funds directly from your bank account.
  • Only give to charities that are well-established. Never give out your credit card information to a charity over the phone.
  • Scammers are getting more intrusive and sending text messages with links. Do not answer texts you receive from unfamiliar senders or click on a link in the text.

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