An Un-Merry Shopping Season

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The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and McGruff the Crime Dog® are on a mission to make crooks cranky by giving shoppers the safety information they need to know.

An un-merry holiday season -- the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and McGruff the Crime Dog® are on a mission to make crooks cranky by giving shoppers the safety information they need to know.

Avoid Scams:

  • Avoid crooks phishing for charity. Do not respond to online solicitations for charities unless you initiated the contact. If you are interested in giving, investigate the charity and give through their approved donation process online or through the mail.
  • Gift cards are handy even for crooks. Avoid purchasing cards with signs of tampering, keep the receipt, and encourage the recipient to monitor the card activity so problems can be detected and reported immediately.
  • Consider alternate options to pay for your merchandise, such as one-time or multi-use disposable credit cards or money orders, with online stores and auction sites. Also, familiarize yourself with the rules and policies of online sites.

Online Shopping:

  • Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Everyone's computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam software, and a good firewall installed. Visit for free software downloads.
  • Keep your personal information private and your password secure. Do not respond to requests to "verify" your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses will not contact you in this manner.
  • Beware of "bargains" from companies with whom you are unfamiliar -- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the icon of a locked padlock at the bottom of the screen or an "https" in the URL address.
  • Shop with companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.

Store Shopping:

  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and take only what you need in a purse or wallet.
  • Park in well-lighted spaces, lock your doors, and close your windows. Check quickly in the back seat and around the car before getting in.
  • Do not have packages visible in your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or if possible take them directly home.
  • Are you shopping with kids? If you become separated, teach them to go to a store clerk or security guard for help.
  • Deter pickpockets and purse-snatchers by keeping your purse closed and carrying it snugly against your body. Men should carry wallets in a front or inside coat pocket.
  • File receipts in your wallet immediately; identity thieves can use lost receipts to obtain important personal information.

About the National Crime Prevention Council

The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is a private, nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to be the nation's leader in helping people keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe from crime. NCPC manages public service advertising under the National Citizens' Crime Prevention Campaign -- symbolized by McGruff the Crime Dog® and his "Take A Bite Out Of Crime®" slogan -- and acts as secretariat for the Crime Prevention Coalition of America, more than 300 national, federal, state, and local organizations representing thousands of constituents who are committed to preventing crime. NCPC is funded through a variety of government agencies, corporate and private foundations, and donations from private individuals. NCPC also participates in the Combined Federal Campaign (#0840 on the pledge card). For more information on crime prevention issues, visit

1000 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 13th Floor

Washington, DC 20036


202-296-1356 FAX                                                    

Further Information:

Michelle Boykins, 202-261-4184

Leslie Capstick, 202-261-4138

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Michelle Boykins
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