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BBB is encouraging consumers to be smarter, safer consumers in 2013. By following these 10 simple New Year’s resolutions, consumers will be prepared to combat scammers and protect themselves from fraud:
1. Do your research. Whether it’s a business you want to hire or product you want to buy, take time to do your research. Check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org. For product information, go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
2. Keep your computer safe. Install anti-virus software and regularly check for software and operating system updates. Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails unless the email came from someone you know and trust.
3. Get it in writing. Don’t just take a business’s word for it. Get every verbal agreement in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings.
4. Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Many scams require money to be wired back to the scammers. Tracking money sent via a money wiring service is almost impossible.
5. Protect your identity. Shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely. Safely store all personal documents, such as your Social Security card, pull your credit report at least once a year and check credit/bank statements frequently.
6. Shop on trustworthy websites. Online shopping has increasingly become more popular, so before you provide any personal or banking information over the web make sure you’re using a trusted site. Look for the “s” in https:// as opposed to http:// in the address box.
7. Give wisely. To ensure your time, treasure, and talent are going to the cause you’re looking to support, research all charities at www.give.org to check their legitimacy and to see how their monetary donations are distributed.
8. Don’t be pressured. If a company, organization, or salesperson uses overly-aggressive sales tactics to pressure you into making a purchase or on-the-spot decision, that’s a red flag. Walk away.
9. Limit the amount of information shared on social media pages. Scammers use social media sites to gather information on potential victims. Avoid sharing too much personal information and check your privacy settings. Never announce on a social media site that you are going out of town, or won’t be home.
10. Let your BBB help. BBB is here to promote marketplace trust. If you have an issue with a business or feel you have been scammed, file a complaint with your BBB.