The 12 cons of Christmas: Part four - Christmas travel and security
When those Christmas bells begin to chime, wallets are loosened and the nation goes shopping crazy. Research by ING has found that we will spend £350 each on gifts alone.
But, unfortunately, all our Christmas cheer is meat and drink to rip-off merchants and fraudsters only too willing to exploit our goodwill. This third installment of our four-part guide will help you avoid the cons and make sure your Christmas spirit lasts through to the New Year.
10. DON'T LET YOUR PARTY END IN TEARS
We all like to let our hair down at Christmas, but after we've had a few drinks our safety and security radars can become a little foggy. Office parties in pubs and clubs are a handbag snatcher's dream, so never leave valuables unattended and make use of monitored cloakrooms with a ticketing system.
On the way home, don't keep all your things in one place. Stick your house keys in your pocket, for example, so if you do get accosted by a thief you might not lose everything. Also try to plan how you're going to get home. It's all too easy to stumble out of a club in the early hours of the morning and jump into the first saloon car offering you a lift home.
But you should never jump in an illegal cab. The only cabs allowed to pick you up without a booking are black cabs - and they are an expensive option. If you have to use them, try to share a ride. A better bet is to pre-book with a reputable firm at an agreed price.
11. DON'T GET TAKEN FOR A FESTIVE SLEIGH RIDE
Over Christmas, travelling can be cripplingly expensive. If you know when you want to go, it's worth booking in advance, even if you only book a day in advance for train tickets. To find the cheapest flights, check websites such as skyscanner.net - simply tap in your dates and desired airports and it will find you the cheapest tickets.
For train tickets, hunt out the best deals at raileasy.co.uk or thetrainline.com, but watch out for booking fees. You might get a better deal buying direct from the train operating company as most don't charge a booking fee.
And if you're going to be driving long distances check offmotorway.com for good restaurants and cafés close to the motorway so you can avoid paying over the odds at service stations. Also scout out the cheapest petrol stations before you set off on petrolprices.com.
12. KEEP YOUR HOME SAFE THIS CHRISTMAS
Christmas is bonanza time for burglars looking to swipe expensive new presents such as digital TVs, iPads and mobile phones. Follow these tips so you don't become a victim:
- Be sure to double lock your front doors at night
- If you go away visiting relatives take special care to secure all windows and doors and set the burglar alarm if you have one
- Lamps on timer switches give the illusion of occupancy and can be a good deterrent
- Give neighbours a set of keys and ask them to keep an eye out for any unusual activity near your home
- After Christmas, don't pile up all the empty boxes from the great gear you've received outside your house – flatten them and bag them so there's no temptation for thieves. Also be sure to update your contents insurance if you received anything particularly expensive.
Does exactly what it says on the tin: covers the contents of your home for theft and damage and also may insure certain possessions (jewellery, cycles) outside of the home. Things to watch for include the excess and also the maximum payout on individual items. Another grey area is kitchen fittings, as some contents policies say these are not contents but part of the fabric of the property and covered by buildings insurance and some buildings policies don’t cover them because they regard them as contents.