Surrey RCMP aren’t ho-ho-holding back on holiday shopping safety tips

THE COVID-19 pandemic has many people turning to online shopping this holiday season and Surrey RCMP say they want to help keep the season holidays merry and bright by providing some tips to help protect the public from crimes related to online shopping and online marketplace apps.

Online Marketplace App Robberies

Online marketplace apps are a convenient way for people to buy and sell merchandise. Unfortunately, they are also a convenient way for criminals to commit personal robberies. Criminals use apps such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Kijiji, and Letgo to arrange face-to-face meetings with their victims. Victims are often lured using ads that offer high-value items at low prices. When the meet-up takes place, the victims are robbed of their cash or high-value item.

Surrey RCMP Robbery Unit recommends these tips if you plan to meet an unknown person to buy or sell an item:

  • Insist on a public meeting place during the day, such as local businesses with regular foot traffic.
  • Gather as much information as possible so you know who you’re dealing with, such as their full name and cell phone number.
  • Do not meet in a secluded place or invite strangers into your home.
  • Only meet during daylight hours or in a well-lit and heavily populated area.
  • Be especially careful when buying or selling high value items.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re going and when you’re meeting the buyer/seller.
  • Take your cell phone and a friend along to accompany you.
Online Shopping Tips

It continues to be important to employ safe internet practices while conducting online shopping, particularly during the busy gift-giving season. Surrey RCMP Financial Crime Unit recommends these tips to prevent crimes related to online shopping – not only related to internet transactions, but tips for safeguarding packages delivered to your home.

  • Create complex, difficult-to-guess passwords for your devices and accounts and change passwords frequently.
  • Periodically check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements and report any irregularities promptly to the relevant financial institution and to the credit bureaus.
  • Use reputable websites for online shopping. Reading online website reviews can be a good way to identify suspicious websites.
  • Always use a secure internet connection when making a purchase (look for a little lock icon on your browser).
  • Don’t use open wifi that isn’t secured.
  • Only shop on sites that take secure payment methods, such as credit cards and PayPal. Never send cash or a cheque.
  • Make sure you use the correct delivery address when completing your online purchase.
  • Make sure someone is home or alert a neighbour when you are expecting a package or delivery.
  • Consider installing surveillance cameras at your doorstep.

“We urge everyone to keep safety in mind while checking off items on your shopping list,” says Sgt. Ryan Forbes, Acting NCO in charge of the Surrey RCMP Targeted Enforcement Unit. “Following these tips can prevent you from falling victim to internet-based crimes.”

Surrey RCMP will be hosting a Holiday Saftey Tips Webinar via Zoom on December 3.

Email by Friday, November 27 to register.

For more safety tips, visit the Surrey RCMP website.