MELROSE — With the holiday shopping season officially here, Chief Michael Lyle and the Melrose Police Department wish to remind residents of several precautions they can take to protect themselves from theft and scams.

“This time of year, there are a plethora of scams that target holiday shoppers, and we’re urging residents to take steps to protect themselves from falling victim to these efforts,” Chief Lyle said. “Always remember: no legitimate agency will ask for a payment with a prepaid gift card, always lock the doors to your vehicle and home, and if something seems suspicious, report it to your local police department.”

Tips to Prevent Holiday Package Theft:

To best ensure that your packages are not taken after they are delivered, Melrose Police recommend the following tips:

  • Request notifications on your deliveries, via phone or email, to monitor your packages in transit and upon delivery. FedEx and UPS offer services to assist customers during the holidays.
  • Always require a signature on your deliveries to ensure packages are never left unattended.
  • Consider sending deliveries to an alternate location where someone will be able to receive them – whether that be a workplace, a neighbor or friend’s house, or a FedEx or UPS location.
  • Schedule your delivery for a specific date and time that you’re expected to be home.
  • Set up a vacation hold if you plan on traveling during the holidays so gifts won’t be left on the doorstep.
  • Be aware of “tailgating,” which refers to people who follow delivery vehicles and steal packages after they are dropped off.
  • If you find your package has been stolen, or see any suspicious activity, immediately report it to the Melrose Police.
  • Never accept a surprise delivery where a payment is required, and never give out personal information when receiving a delivery that you purchased as it may be a scam.

Additionally, any suspicious people or vehicles in your neighborhood should immediately be reported to the Melrose Police Department at 781-655-1212

Telephone Scam Safety Tips:

To help people protect themselves from various telephone scams, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers several tips on its website, including:

  • Do not take calls from unknown numbers.
  • Do not share personal, identifying information like Social Security numbers, account numbers, or mother’s maiden names.
  • If a caller claims to represent an organization and you are doubtful, hang up and contact that agency to verify whether the call was truly from a representative.
  • Caller ID is not always accurate. A call from a “local” number might not be coming from a local person or organization.
  • Never pay a caller using a gift card or prepaid credit card.
  • Be wary of callers who talk quickly and pressure you to make a decision quickly.
  • Do not send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer. If you pay for a product or service with cash or a money transfer, you run a risk of losing the right to dispute fraudulent charges.
  • Report rude or abusive callers, even if you already sent them money, by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP or by visiting ftc.gov/complaint.

Additional Holiday Shopping Safety Tips:

Chief Lyle would also like to offer tips to holiday shoppers on how to avoid any incidents or theft while shopping in stores and online:

  • As more people are on the road during the holiday season, be sure to drive carefully. Be patient when looking for a parking space. Don’t speed up in a parking lot to catch an empty spot. Look for other cars or people when backing out of a parking space, and back out slowly.
  • Keep shopping bags out of plain sight in your vehicle, preferably in your trunk.
  • Keep your purse close to your body or your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front pants pocket.
  • Save your receipts and monitor your credit card activity.
  • When shopping online, stick to retailers you know or have shopped with before.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi to make purchases in order to prevent hackers from intercepting your information.

The men and women of the Melrose Police Department wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season!

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Kelsey Bode worked at JGPR from Jan. 2019 to July 2021.

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