A Former CIA Officer's Top Safety Tips for the Holidays

by Rachael Ray Show Staff 5:56 PM, November 18, 2014

CBS Studios

Aired November 18, 2014

The holiday season can be one of the most wonderful times of the year. It can also be one of the most dangerous, especially when robbers are on the hunt to catch busy shoppers when they least expect it.

So, as big events like Black Friday approach, what can you do to keep yourself safe? Former CIA officer Jason Hanson has a few tips to help you navigate two of the most vulnerable areas for shoppers.

The ATM Machine

When you're taking money out of the ATM and a robber suddenly approaches you from behind, Hanson says to ignore our national reaction to either do nothing or lean forward.

"Instead, what you want to do is take a quick step backwards," he advises. "It throws them off balance."

Even if that doesn't work, Hanson says you should grab the robber's fingers and start pulling them back.

"It doesn't matter if I'm 300 pounds," he says. "If you start grabbing their fingers and bending them backwards, they're going to [fall] to the ground."

The Parking Lot

One of the scariest places to get held up, especially at night, is the parking lot. The first way to protect yourself, Hanson says, is to make sure you're not holding your shopping bags in both hands.

"Have your strong hand free," he says.

Your strong hand will then allow you to perform a simple technique he calls the Cuff and Puff, should a robber  suddenly approach you

To execute the Cuff and Puff, Hanson says to "cup your hand" and do a quick strike to the robber's groan. "When you do that, the robber leans forward," he says.

Once the robber has leaned forward, Hanson says you should then "hit the palm of your hand underneath [their] noise," allowing you to escape.

To learn more tips from Jason Hanson, head to