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HELPFUL HINTS

Posted: December 31, 2013 at 2:21 a.m.

DEAR READERS: With all the post-holiday sales, many head out to the stores and the mall. Here are some hints to keep you safe:

Park as close to a store entrance or elevator as possible.

Look around, and be aware of your surroundings. Look for people just sitting in cars “watching” everyone else, or cars just circling.

Park near light poles.

Do not return to your car to place items in the trunk and then head back into the store. You might think this is safe, but there are people who watch, then break into your trunk. If you do put things in the trunk, try to move to another parking spot so it looks like you are leaving.

Don’t take your whole wallet. Try to pare down, and take only a few credit cards that you will need. Pickpockets love women with a big purse stuffed full of things. An easy target for sure.

DEAR HELOISE: We had an experience with three small charges being made on our credit card. These charges were made to an online site. The bank marked one of the charges as fraud and contacted us. We were told that whoever placed the orders had the correct numbers, including the three-digit security code. We didn’t have to pay for the charges, and the bank canceled that card and issued a new one. The bank told us the person using our card probably was making small charges, and when they cleared, the person would make a large charge.

I realized that my security code hadn’t been required other than at online sites.

I don’t understand why that security code is imprinted on cards.

  • Bobbie in Texas

DEAR READER: The security code is there to help prevent fraud, the theory being that the person using the card would have it in hand when placing an order and a thief could not use just the card number, but would need to provide the security code, too. You are right, though - you usually are asked for it only when shopping online or making mail-order purchases over the phone.

DEAR HELOISE: I bought a small, cross-body, zipper-top purse specifically for shopping and taking on vacation. It enables me to keep my hands free and keep the purse close to me and away from thieves.

  • Callie T., via email Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email Heloise@Heloise.com

Style, Pages 30 on 12/31/2013

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