The holiday means spending time and sharing cherished moments with loved ones. But amidst the hustle and bustle of online shopping and party planning for get-togethers with family and friends, it can also bring opportunities for more nefarious activities. (Cue theme song to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”)
Beware criminal Xmas crashers
According to the 2022 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), two specific types of crime increase in December: robbery and personal larceny. These two crimes increase by approximately 20% this time of year due to people being out and away from their homes more often. The shorter days and longer nights of the winter solstice also provide potential burglars with more opportunity for holiday home break-ins. (Thieves love operating in the dark.)
Here are some other startling stats we found in Porch.com’s 2022 Study of American’s Holiday Burglary Hotspots:
- December burglaries make up 8.2% of all burglaries that occur in the United States annually. 83,000 burglaries occurred during the 2021 holiday period.
- Almost 5,000 homes were burgled either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day that year, with roughly 2,700 break-ins taking place on the 24th and about 2,200 on the 25th.
- An estimated $130.5 million in value was lost to holiday burglaries in 2021.
- The average dollar amount for a holiday burglary is $2,891 – 5% higher than the average on other days ($2,740).
- Jewelry, computers and furs are ~10% more likely to be stolen during the holiday season than during other times of the year.
Taking some simple proactive steps are your best defense against holiday-related crimes. Follow these home safety tips to keep the Grinch from stealing your holiday joy.
Home safety tips
1. Add lighting
Keep your home well-lit, especially during the longer winter nights. Adequate lighting deters potential intruders and enhances visibility, reducing the risk of accidents inside and outside. Timers on inside lights are especially effective for times when you’re away from the house.
2. Secure doors and windows
Ensure all entry points, including doors (that includes doggie doors, too), windows and garage entrances are securely locked. Consider reinforcing locks or installing smart security cameras and systems for added protection.
3. Don’t advertise your absence
We all love sharing special times with friends and loved ones in our social feeds, but limit posts about specific travel plans or extended absences from your home. Knowing you’re away makes it easy for burglars looking for empty homes.
4. Protect delivery packages
Porch pirates especially love this time of year, too, so consider installing a home delivery lock box on your porch or side of your house. Schedule deliveries for times when someone will be home or have packages delivered to a secure location.
5. Be a good neighbor
Stay connected with neighbors. Form a neighborhood watch group to look out for each other’s properties.
Beware bad cyber actors, too
Keeping yourself, family and home safe during the holidays means being more aware when you’re out and about – and online.
Like physical crimes, cybercrime rates tend to increase during the holiday season. In a just-released report by credit reporter TransUnion on e-commerce fraud during the traditional start of the U.S. 2023 holiday shopping season 1 – a period known as Cyber Five days, the days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday – 2.4% of online transactions were suspected to be fraudulent. That’s 18% higher than the same period in 2022 and 12% higher than January until November 23.
TransUnion also found that 69% of American shoppers are extremely, very or moderately concerned with being victimized by online fraud this holiday season—an increase from 64% in 2022.
So as you wrap up your last-minute Christmas shopping, try these tips to protect your online identity and financial information, and say fa-la-la-la-la to cyber fraud.
1. Use strong passwords
Create complex passwords and enable two-factor authentication for online accounts to prevent unauthorized access. And don’t use the same password for every account.
2. Don’t get hooked by phishing
Avoid clicking on suspicious links or emails, especially those offering incredible deals or claiming urgent actions required for your accounts.
3. Secure Wi-Fi networks
Ensure your home Wi-Fi is secure with a strong password. Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for added protection.
4. Update software
Regularly update your devices and software to patch vulnerabilities and enhance security measures.
5. Check urls
Typosquatting refers to the use of commonly mistyped email addresses and web domains to impersonate retailers in order to dupe unsuspecting customers. Cyber actors use this year-round, but it’s especially effective this time of year when shoppers are in a rush to complete their online gift giving and less likely to verify information.
Peace on earth and peace of mind
While ‘tis the season to be jolly and full of good cheer, it’s also a time to be more vigilant and cautious. By following these simple safety measures, you can safeguard your home, protect your online presence and enjoy the festivities with peace of mind.
And here’s a tip on how to safely and securely sell your home over the holidays. Avoid the need for potential buyers – and burglars – to come through your home with a quick cash offer from Offerpad.
Please stay safe, stay secure and cherish the moments that truly matter during this special time of the year. Happy holidays!
1 GlobeNewswire, Nov. 29, 2023. Suspected Digital Shopping Fraud in the U.S. Up 12% During Cyber Five Holiday Period Compared to Rest of 2023 | Morningstar