Local law enforcement officials are reminding holiday shoppers to be safe and aware of their surroundings this busy weekend.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard and Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy are trying to help people steer clear of scams and get to where they are going and back home safely. Sheriff Murphy, in a video posted to Facebook, asks shoppers to be patient and take a deep a breath if needed. He says the traffic and lines can only go as fast as they can, and this is not the time to be in a hurry. Murphy encourages people to do what they can to not get overwhelmed to the extent that they lose track of where their credit cards, purse or wallet are at. Also be aware of your surroundings and who is standing by you when you enter pin numbers for your debit card.

Sheriff Bouchard is also warning consumers to be careful about people trying to take advantage of the bustling season. If shopping online at an unfamiliar site or retailer, enter their web address into a search engine along with the word “scam” or “fraud” and see what comes up, as well as only ordering online from websites with a secure server. Secure server web addresses being with “https” rather than “http.” Also, if the mail service being used to deliver packages provides tracking numbers, try to track your purchases and be home when the delivery arrives. Porch piracy from people who steal unattended packages off of porches increases every year around this time.

When shopping at local retailers, don’t leave packages or valuables in plain view, where criminals may be tempted. Sheriff Bouchard also warns generous givers about holiday charity scams. He says to give cautiously and always check the charity’s legitimacy before giving to an unfamiliar one. Fake charities often set up legitimate logos, business cards, and even spots at malls making them difficult to identify as scammers. (MK)