As the holiday shopping season approaches, many people will be in search of deals. 

But thieves will be in search of steals.  

The COVID-19 pandemic will lead many Americans to shop online. That will give thieves the chance to take packages they are left on porches and doorsteps.  

More: Fayetteville police investigate more carjackings at apartments

There are several recommendations consumers can follow to protect themselves.

• Have a neighbor pick up your packages or require a signature.

• When shopping online, choose websites with which you are familiar. 

• Make online purchases with a credit card, not a debit card tied to your bank account. Credit card charges can more easily be disputed with your credit card company, while with debit cards, it takes more time to get your money back.  

 • When shopping in person, have your keys in your hand when returning to your vehicle. Place packages in the trunk and park in places that are heavily traveled and well lighted.  

More: NC residents weigh how not to bring COVID home with the casserole this Thanksgiving

The Fayetteville Police Department provided these other safety tips.

• Take only the cash and credit cards you need on a shopping trip.

• Don’t let others distract you in crowded areas. Your personal belongings are at risk.

• Limit the use of your a cellphone in public.

• Park in well-lighted and well-traveled areas. Avoid overloading yourself with packages. Be aware of your surroundings.

• If you are traveling, ask a neighbor to watch the house. Put timers on different lights throughout the interior and exterior of the house. Have newspaper, mail and deliveries held or picked up by someone you trust.

• Shop only at secure websites. Do not respond to emails asking for personal or credit card information. Check your credit card and bank statements regularly for fraudulent use.

• Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Alert law enforcement if you notice unattended packages; people wearing bulky or inappropriate clothing that may be used to conceal threatening devices or objects; someone tampering with a surveillance camera; and suspicious chemical smells or pungent odors.

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Staff writer Melody Brown-Peyton can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3568.

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