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What should you do if *this* happens to you at the mall?

It's a Saturday afternoon and you and your bestie are at the mall, scouring the racks for the *perfect* homecoming dress. You're about to head out of Forever 21 (empty-handed, le sigh) to hit the food court for a slice of pizza—when a security guard suddenly steps in front of you and orders you to come with him. Uh, what?!

Being accused of shoplifting is uncomfortable, but not uncommon. Especially because store owners have reason to be cautious—1 in 11 people have shoplifted at some point in their lives. But what should you do if *you're* stopped for stealing...and you haven't done anything wrong?

The key is to know what your rights are because they differ in every state. Some jurisdictions can detain you based solely on suspicion whereas others need to have physically seen you putting a pair of earrings in your purse to even question you. (CLICK HERE for more information on what security guards can and cannot do.) Keep in mind that under the Trespass to Property Act, security *can* ask you to leave private property—without reason—as long as it is not discriminatory, aka based on gender, race or age.

To find out what rights you have where you live, contact your local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), check your state government's website for info on local laws or even ask your parents.  

While rules and rights may vary, remember that if you find yourself in a similar sitch, stay calm and cooperative (after all, you're 100 percent innocent) and act in a respectful but firm manner. That means no yelling or sass but also no being taken advantage of. 

Have you ever been accused of shoplifting (or something similar) at the mall? Share your experience below! 

by Amanda Tarlton | 9/8/2017
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