The holidays are supposed to be happy. But there are people aiming to make theirs happier at your expense.

According to newly released data, 26 million Americans have had their holiday packages stolen by porch pirates — with millions more also affected by “holiday hazards” including decoration vandalism.

A study from insuranceQuotes examines holiday hazards, with the main takeaway being: Take precautions.

“During the holidays, certain crimes and home hazards increase. Homeowners need to take precautions and make sure they have the right insurance to protect their finances,” said Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at insuranceQuotes. “You could have packages delivered to your office or a local locker — or use motion detectors, security systems and light timers to fend off thieves.”

According to the report, 25.9 million Americans (8 percent) have had a holiday package stolen from their front porch or doorstep — up from 23.5 million porch thefts reported in 2015.

Results also revealed that 22.6 million Americans (7 percent) have had holiday decorations stolen or vandalized in the past year. As a result, they took the following precautions:

• 34 percent installed motion detectors.

• 30 percent installed a security system.

• 25 percent installed automatic timers for their holiday lights.

And there are those looking to scam you in the cyber world.

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs urges those doing their shopping online to ensure devices stay virus free with updated antivirus software. Do not automatically connect to Wi-Fi hot spots and watch out for phishing attempts.

Scammers up their game during the holiday season, sending fake gift cards and posing as your favorite retailers and financial institutions. Never provide sensitive information via email, text or to a cold caller. Also, do not click on links, download attachments or call phone numbers included in suspicious emails.

Then there are those even more blatant in their attempts to take – doing so in public places. Many thefts from shoppers and/or their vehicles are crimes of opportunity.

The National Crime Prevention Council urges shoppers not to buy more than they can carry. Don’t flash cash and wait until being asked by a cashier to take out credit cards and checkbooks.

The organization says caution is needed walking to and from cars, including being aware of surroundings, carrying purses close to the body, having keys in hands when approaching your vehicle and not leaving packages visible in your car.

Whether it’s from your doorstep, your computer, your vehicle or directly from your person, the risk is real. And the holidays magnify it.

The NCPC states: “Between the ubiquity of identity theft and the unfortunate occurrences of robberies and assaults, shoppers should take extra care to mind their personal and financial safety around the holidays.”


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