ST. JOSEPH — With the holidays approaching, police are offering tips to help prevent a Grinch from stealing Christmas.

State police said that in 2018, 26 million Americans reported having holiday packages stolen from their homes. Sgt. Andrew Jeffrey said people who are having packages delivered by mail should consider requiring a signature for delivery or having packages sent to their work place.

Also, he said, many people are investing in motion-sensing security cameras to deter thieves or to catch them in the act.

Besides outright physical theft, there are many other schemes used by thieves, Jeffrey said.

The Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post offers the following tips to avoid becoming the victim of a would-be scammer:

• Never give out personal information online or over the phone to someone you do not know.

• Vary your passwords and change them frequently.

• If buying gift cards, make sure the card has not been tampered with and if possible, buy gift cards from behind the counter or directly from the retailer.

• Be on the lookout for fake charities. Indicators may be aggressive sales pitches or high-pressure tactics. When in doubt, ask them to send you via U.S. mail a donation form to fill out instead of giving them credit card information over the phone.

• Download the app for your credit card to your phone and have it alert you to every purchase. You will then be notified immediately if there are any fraudulent purchases made on your credit card. 

• Beware of online pricing too good to be true. Scammers often set up dummy websites to lure people into “buying” their products Some will send fake products while others just take people’s money and send nothing.