Performance Objective

At the conclusion of the course the student will be able to:

  1. Identify a method you can use to better manage your money while shopping.

  2. Identify a method to stay out of trouble spots during the holiday.

  3. Identify a way to make the most of your money this season.

  4. Identify what a skimmer is.

  5. Identify a method to easily spot scams.

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Holiday times are a perfect opportunity to find deals on products, shop, and have a good time with friends and relatives. It is also a great time for thieves, thugs, and bandits. We as consumers need to be cautious in how we behave during the holiday season so that we do not become an easy target for individuals who may wish to do us harm.

We must pay attention to our physical, mental, and digital security during the holidays to reduce our chances of becoming a victim. You are the first line in your own defense.

Physical Security

No cash

Avoid using cash when shopping. You want to reduce the possible loss in the event that something occurs to you. It is essentially impossible to recover lost cash. There are few places you will need to shop at that require cash and the myth of the ‘cash discount’ is nearly extinct. It is rarely worth the hassle or the dangers of carrying cash.

What do I do without cash?

  1. Apple Pay

  2. Android Pay

  3. Samsung Pay

  4. PayPal

  5. Credit Cards

There exist numerous methods for paying that use your cell phone or even issue a card. You want to reduce your foot print, reduce the number of cards you need to carry, and give yourself greater control over your finances. Tools like Apple Pay obfuscate your card information and help keep retailers from saving your data for nefarious uses.

Watch your bags

Thieves regularly steal from distracted shoppers. A screaming child, busy aisles, and plenty of potential victims mulling about make purse snatching and wallet theft particularly popular during the holiday.

  1. 75 Year Old Victim
  2. Target Of Opportunity
  3. Elderly Woman Victimized
  4. 60 Year Old Victim
  5. Elderly woman injured after purse stolen

Do you see a pattern here?

Watch your car

Insurance doesn’t cover everything and you should be aware that your auto policy most likely does not cover the contents of the car. You want to make sure you do not make your vehicle a tempting target for thieves. Don’t leave packages in the vehicle and make sure you don’t leave your vehicle in places where thieves will be patrolling. Your deductible may not make the cost of filing a claim worth it.

Mental Security

Stay calm

  1. Good Samaritan Killed On Black Friday
  2. Man Killed Over Parking Spot
  3. Shooting At Mall - One Killed
  4. Children Killed In Rollover
  5. Man Dies - Shoppers Step Over Body

Do not allow your emotions to get the best of you. While this should be a fairly easy tip that most of us know, it is not worth being injured or killed for some cheap merchandise. Tempers flare, people get upset, or they are running on reduced hours of sleep and events happen.

Shop Smart

Is Black Friday A Scam? Too Good To Be True Prices?

Holiday shopping is not necessarily the best time to find deals. You may find that depending on the item you are interested in buying, it is better to shop at other times during the year to find the best deals.

Amazon Tools

You can donate to charity while shopping on Amazon. Ebay is also providing methods to give back to charities and they seem to be choosing charities for you based on your purchases. The Amazon charity would be one you chose.

I donate to ‘Special Olympics Arizona Inc.’ You can pick from a wide array of charities. My only recommendation is that you regularly check in on your charity and verify they are behaving correctly. It might pay to shop from home instead of heading out into the world.

Digital Security

Purchase Protection

Does your purchasing tool of choice support purchase protection?


PayPal offers robust purchase protection for their customers. They also have a very consumer focused dispute resolution process that sides heavily with buyers. It may be a good idea to use a purchasing tool that is focused on protecting you.

BitCoin / Alternative Currencies

Warning: I am not an investment banker, professional investor, or licensed to give financial advice.

Tulip Mania

I recommend reading about tulip mania, becoming familiar with price bubbles, and gaining a better understanding of future markets.

A small list of companies investigating block chain technology include -

  1. Australian Securities Exchange
  2. Wells Fargo
  3. IBM

More can be found at Coindesk

BitCoin fluctuations

BitCoin has a history of fluctuating up and down 40% or more in break neck speed. Your investment can be worth $5000 in the morning and be valued at $1000 by that afternoon. Although it does continue to rise over all and the current trend has held true for several years.

Ethereum Crash

Ethereum crashed down to 10 cents from $319 in a single day after a major multi million dollar sell order was fulfilled. It did rebound to $325 dollars or so within a few days.

Ethereum Parity Bug

A user experimenting with Parity on GitHub was able to find a bug in the software and accidently exploited it. This caused approximately $280 million dollars in damages so far as wallets became unusable.

Another previous issue in the wallet Parity led to losses in excess of $30 million in stolen funds. You can read more at coindesk


Many companies lack basic cyber security and are unable to care for your information. Yahoo and Equifax were recently asked to speak to the Senate in a hearing and neither group could explain their security issues, who attacked them, or make any solid statements about what was lost or stolen.

Social Security Numbers

Verify A Social Security Number

How a social is assigned

What Scams Or Crimes Are There?

All of Them.

  1. Skimming
  2. Identity Theft
  3. Physical Theft
  4. Kidnapping
  5. Home Invasion


Credit Card Skimmers have been found all around Arizona and over 50 were found in the Valley since January 1st of 2017.

A credit card skimmer is a device used to capture the card data being used. It is often fitted over or within the device being used by the consumer. You will often find them employed at gas stations or ATM kiosks. It is also not uncommon for wait staff to function as data gatherers who will steal your card information when they take your card to the back. The deployment of automated credit card kiosks in restaurants is a growing response to these issues.

Identity Theft

Tips on identity theft are fairly standard. Be cautious of social media, pay attention to your statements, and don’t use your debit card.

Physical Theft

Kidnapping And Home Invasion

A kidnapping and home invasion was recently thwarted by an armed father. If you view the above links and notice the pictures, you will see that the female victim had images posted online of her expensive jewelry, dresses, and other goods.

What do I do if I am a victim?

Call the Police

You will need to file a police report. Some crimes can be reported online, but if the crime is in progress or happens some where you were present, you will want to call the police. You are going to need to have a list of damages so if you just found a bill with a large number of transactions you didn’t initiate on it, you will need to be able to make that available for the investigator.

Document Every Thing!

Take pictures, scan the documents, and make yourself a very good record of everything. You don’t want to be using the words ‘I don’t know’ if you are a victim. You will need the who, what, when, where, why, and how as best as you know available for the investigators.

  • Who - I was the victim
  • What - Someone used my credit card without my knowledge or permission
  • When - The bill says they ate at a restaurant on X date as well as bought gas at X gas station.
  • Where - The restaurant was a McDonalds and the Gas was from a Circle K
  • Why - This may be unknown but you can provide a list of places you used the card to better help an Officer doing an investigation.

What will the Police Need From Me?

  1. Date and Time of the incident
  2. Personal Information for victim (you) and the businesses involved if possible
  3. Your statement
  4. Information on parties involved


  1. Identify a method you can use to better manage your money while shopping.

  2. Shopping online and staying out of large crowds can reduce the chances you will end up in a trouble spot.

  3. Shopping online

  4. A credit card skimmer is a tool used for stealing credit card information during a legitimate transaction.

  5. Is it too good to be true? It is most likely a scam. This is the easiest way to spot scams online and in person.


The holidays are a great time to connect with friends and family, eat and cook, or do other fun things. However, it is also a choice time for the bad guys. Drunk drivers, thieves, and all number of individuals will be out during this time looking for an easy score. You are more likely to be distracted and that means you are less likely to be able to defend yourself. You need to make smart choices, pay attention to your actions, and look for ways to take care of yourself before you ever end up in trouble.

In the event that you did find yourself victimized, you should contact law enforcement as soon as possible. Being able to provide as much information about the incident is important because many times this data could be instrumental in a case or provide insight that you may not be aware of. Be a good witness. Be timely. Pay attention to detail. All of these aspects can better help you recover in the event you are a victim.

Final Recommendations

  1. Use Linux!
  2. Limit travel unless absolutely necessary.
  3. Keep good records of purchases and pay attention to your statements.
  4. Don’t use cash.
  5. Leave the debit card at home.


  1. Bitcoin - A peer-to-peer technology used for managing transactions.
  2. Linux - A broad term for a family of open-source operating systems.
  3. Skimmer - A device used to harvest credit card or debit card information.