Beware of increased risks during the festive season

As this year’s festive season draws near, it is important that people consider some of the unique risks they could face during the holiday period. While on vacation, holidaymakers tend to be more relaxed and might not practice as much caution as they usually would to avoid personal injuries or damage to their prized possessions.

This is according to Simon Colman, the Underwriting Executive of SHA Specialist Underwriters who says that it is advisable for everyone to remain vigilant during their time off in an effort to avoid injuries, damaging or losing possessions or falling victim to scams and fraud. “People need to be aware of the potential hazards within their surroundings in an attempt to avoid any suffering and financial losses during a time that is meant to be spent stress-free.”

Colman provides the below advice to people to stay safe from potential risks during the holidays:

Beware of hazards on the beach

Many people do not have proper respect for the beach and its immediate environment and subsequently leave their waste and rubbish in sand or rock pools. Before walking barefoot on the beach or allowing kids to swim in rock pools, be sure to look out for broken pieces of glass tucked away in the sand which could potentially cut one’s foot and cause minor or even severe injuries.

Heed the warnings

Should a hazard sign be erected at a specific area – for example one that prohibits swimming, making of fires or indicates a dangerous cliff ahead – it is imperative that everyone abides by these warnings as they pose potential threats that could cause personal harm. These signs are put up for very specific reasons and therefore people need to pay attention to potential dangers. No one wants to deal with the trauma of a festive season tragedy.

Remember consumer rights

Following the implementation of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), consumers have certain rights when they purchase merchandise. Should people buy Christmas presents and the item breaks, due to reasons not related to abuse but rather poor quality, the product has a six month implied warranty in terms of the CPA. The individual is therefore entitled to a replacement or the store should repair the item for free. Where there has simply been a “change of mind” the store can actually impose its own terms with regards returns and refunds.

Beware of email and credit scams

During the festive season, fraudsters and hackers try their best to target victims while people are less attentive and possibly with more disposable income. It is important not to click on a link in a suspicious email that attempts to obtain bank account details and pin numbers. These emails appear to have been sent from a bank, SARS or some other trusted source but it is advisable that they are not responded to, especially if the email is sent from a strange email address. Rather search for the verified contact numbers of the sender online and phone the offices to confirm any communication.

Villains will also target distracted individuals in an effort to obtain their credit card details for card skimming scams where they clone the victim’s card. The fraudster uses these cloned cards to make fraudulent purchases often amounting to thousands of Rands before they are discovered.

Don’t take expensive electronics out of the house

In the modern world people often struggle to part ways with their electronic devices, however, it is advisable to leave expensive technological equipment in the home or hotel safe when going out for the day. By taking the items with them, people expose themselves to the risk of damaging or losing the device, or it could get stolen. This is especially important when the device belongs to one’s employer. It is easy to let a device slip and fall into the beach sand, spill water on it or just drop it onto a pavement – the individual could be left with hefty financial losses should they damage their own or work devices, especially if there is no short-term insurance in place.

Always read the terms and conditions (T&Cs)

It is extremely important that people always read through the terms and conditions (T&Cs) when they book trips, accommodation or excursions. While the CPA does provide certain protection, it is worthwhile that people avoid the dispute in the first place by making sure they do not sign anything without thoroughly reading through the T&Cs. It is also advisable to deal with reputable service providers in an effort to avoid disagreements and to be sure that the provider has proper liability insurance in place. Disappointing and unfortunate events can easily arise when on holiday when people try to save money instead of ensuring safety and exercising common sense.

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