The holiday season tends to give crooks increased opportunities to commit crimes but local authorities say many can be avoided.

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is reminding everybody to pay extra attention to their surroundings this holiday season, which criminals tend to see as a target rich environment. While out and about, Sheriff Mike Murphy reminds to check your vehicle and surroundings to make sure nobody is lurking about. At stores, he advises keeping wallets in a front pocket or inside coat, as opposed to a rear pocket while women should avoid leaving their purses in shopping carts.

When it comes to online shopping, individuals can make sure a site is secure by checking for a lock icon or “https” in the URL address. It’s also suggested individuals use the same credit card for all online purchases so it’s easier to decipher bills and that way if there is a problem, there’s only one credit card company to deal with.

Murphy says it’s also important to be mindful of anyone who might be watching when using credit or debit cards, as there is the potential for someone to steal a pin number. He tells WHMI people should also be on alert at gas stations. Murphy says whenever you swipe your card, make sure the device looks like it’s manufactured properly and hasn’t been tampered with. If it looks like it’s been tampered with, then Murphy says it probably has and someone put a skimmer on it and could be stealing your identity.

Above all, Murphy says the best thing to do to stay safe this holiday season is to keep you head up and look around. He says people are so busy today with their heads stuck in their phones and not paying attention to what’s going on around them, they can become a victim before they even know it. (JM)