| Arizona Republic
Here’s how to avoid scams and protect your data this holiday seasonOnline sales are expected to surge this holiday season. So how do we gear up to keep our data safe and avoid holiday shopping scams?PHOENIX – With COVID-19 surging across the country, holidays are being spent away from family. This year, shipping packages to loved ones might be the most prudent way to send holiday cheer.But don’t wait too long to get those goodies in the mail.The deadline to get your package to its U.S. destination by Christmas is Dec. 15 for ground shipments via UPS, FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service. You can find complete information on shipping deadlines and requirements at usps.com, fedex.com and ups.com.These packing and shopping tips can make shipping your packages to family and friends a little easier.Will gifts arrive in time for Christmas? Target, Macy’s, other stores offering same-day delivery for holiday rush Bubble wrap is your friendPack your gifts with care – cushioning such as bubble wrap can help keep items from moving around in the box.If you don’t have bubble wrap, use packing peanuts, those air bags that you probably got in your last Amazon or other delivery, or even crumpled wrapping paper and newspaper. If your item comes in a box, place it in a larger, more durable box and fill the void with packing peanuts or crumpled paper. Wrap glass items separately, using bubble wrap inside and outside each item.Double-check the tape, address and labelsMake sure your recipient’s address is correct on the package, and include a return address. For added security, place an extra address label with the delivery and return addresses inside the package as well.If you reuse an old box make sure the previous labels and bar codes are removed.Use 2-inch-wide tape to close the openings of your box. The best tape to use is clear, brown or reinforced packaging tape. Do not use cellophane tape.Let a shipping company handle itShipping stores and services such as Pak Mail, UPS and Shipping With Purpose can do the work for you. Just bring what you wish to ship and they can package and send it on its way. Prices vary in addition to the postage.Shipping stores and post offices also carry a selection of cushioning material, boxes, envelopes, tape and other packaging supplies.More: Don’t make these mistakes when addressing holiday cards’Dear Santa’ documentary: Unwrap US Postal Service’s Operation Santa programDo your holiday shopping onlineThe easiest way to ship a gift is by ordering online and having it sent directly to your recipient.Just remember to check the website carefully so you understand the delivery date. Ordering sooner is better if you want your gift to be received by Dec. 25 in this year of unprecedented online shopping.Follow Elizabeth Montgomeryon Twitter @emontnews.