Safety First: Personal Safety While Walking, Shopping and Banking

How to Protect Yourself

While Traveling Alone

If you have to travel alone at night, there are some steps you can take to make sure you arrive safely.

Plan your route in advance. Make sure someone knows the route and the times you will be coming and going. Use well-lit, populated areas. Don’t take short cuts through parks, vacant lots or unlit streets or alleys. Hold your head up and walk with purpose and confidence. Look strangers in the eye. Walk near the curb and away from alleys and doorways.

If you are carrying a purse, put it over your shoulder. If it is carried across the body, someone could pull on it and knock you off balance—making you more vulnerable to an attacker. Better still, wear a money belt or carry your purse inside your jacket so it isn’t visible and easy to grab. If someone confronts you looking for your purse, dump the contents on the street. If the thief is interested only in your wallet, he or she will take it and run, giving you time to get help.

If you think you are being followed, go to the nearest service station or public building such as a fire station or office and call police. If you’re travelling by bus, sit near other people, or near the driver. If someone is bothering you, tell the bus driver immediately. If you’re concerned someone will follow you if you get off, stay on and tell the bus driver your concerns.

Tips While Shopping

  • Avoid shopping alone. Try to shop with a friend or relative.
  • Park your vehicle in a well-lit area. Put cellular telephones, walkmans or other valuables out of sight.
  • Know your surroundings. Keep an eye on the people in front of as well as behind you.
  • Carry your purse close to your body. Don't swing it loosely. Don't display large amounts of cash.
  • Walk with confidence. Avoid talking to strangers.
  • Approach your vehicle with your keys already in your hand.
  • Try not to carry too many packages. Place all packages out of sight in your vehicle, preferably in the trunk.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your windows shut.
  • If you see anything suspicious or if something just doesn't feel right, leave immediately and contact security or the police.

Tips When Using an ATM (Bank) Machine

Automated banking machines are convenient and easy to use, but it is important to use caution.

  • Try to avoid using an ATM by yourself. Either take someone with you or only use an ATM when others are around.
  • If possible, avoid using an ATM after dark. If you must, choose one that is well lit and does not have tall bushes nearby.
  • When you arrive at an ATM, look around. If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable or anyone who looks suspicious, do not stop. Either use an ATM at a different location or come back later. Notify the authorities.
  • Have your access card and any other documents you need ready when you approach an ATM. While you are fumbling with a wallet or purse, you are easy game for a thief.
  • If someone else is using the ATM when you arrive, avoid standing right behind them. Give them enough space to conduct their transaction in privacy.
  • Even while using the ATM, stay alert to your surroundings. Look up and around every few seconds while transacting your business.
  • Protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not enter your PIN if anyone else can see the screen. Shield your PIN from onlookers by using your body. If you feel someone is watching your transaction closely, cancel it and do your banking another time.
  • When your transaction is finished, be sure you have your card and your receipt, then leave immediately. Avoid counting or otherwise displaying large amounts of cash.
  • As you leave, keep a look out. Be alert for anything or anyone who appears suspicious. If you think you are being followed, go to an area with a lot of people and call the police.
  • Keep your receipt and any papers bearing your name or account number with you. Do not throw them in a nearby trash can.