The first month of the year has almost passed. Have any of your New Year’s Resolutions fallen by the wayside? At the BBB, we’ve had the same New Year’s Resolution for 101 years. It’s simple. We don’t need to give up soda or go to the gym more often, rather, we always resolve to help as many consumers as possible ward of the advances of scam artists.
Our CEO is fond of saying that the scams haven’t changed, just the method of perpetrating them. It’s hard to keep up with a scam artist’s latest tools for trickery, but that’s why your BBB is here! It doesn’t take much more than a click, the turn of a door knob or the pull of your heartstrings to hook you on a scam, but if you follow these 13 tips for 2013, you’ll be in good shape to stay scam free all year!
13. Stop. Think. Don’t Click. Videos and links to special, exclusive content abound on social media. It’s hard to control your clicking finger when the promise of such a interesting video waits for you on the other end. Your BBB reminds you though, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid tempting links and keep your computer virus free!
12. Spice up your password. Hold on, I’m getting a reading: Is your password “monkey1234”? You keep a lot of personal information online, and most of that information is guarded by just one word. Choose wisely. Avoid these common codes.
11. Don’t hide from your credit score. Your credit score isn’t something that should be avoided. Check in annually, at the very least, and if it isn’t where you’d like it to be, work to raise it. Checking your credit can also help keep you aware of any sudden or unexpected dips in your score, which can be a sign that your identity has been stolen.
10. Get ahold of those tear ducts. There are national disasters and tragedies every year that cause us to come together to provide emotional and financial strength to victims, but your BBB says to be cautious when giving to charity. Always check out the charity before you give, and never give money to an unverified source.
9. Slam the door on door-to-door salesmen. The story has been the same for tens of years. Whether it’s wrapping paper, candy bars, driveway repaving or magazine subscription, it’s tough to turn someone away when their staring you in the face. They may seem legitimate, but you should always do your homework before exchanging money with any person or business.
8. Stay off the wires. Wiring money is a big red flag when conducting any marketplace transaction. Consumers should be extremely wary of any person who asks them to wire money for goods or services.
7. Don’t show yours until they’ve shown you theirs. Background checks can be legitimate requests when you are apply for a new job. However, before you blindly send over your social security number, mother’s maiden name and bank account information to John from Craigslist, make sure the company that you are sending your information to exists and is ethical.
6. Don’t take the bait. Phishing scams grow in popularity as the 21st century progress. Nary does a day pass when the average consumer doesn’t have a phishing email swim into their inbox. While most phishing emails are obvious, there are those that can trick even the most seasoned eyes. As a general rule of thumb, your BBB suggests never clicking on links in an email. Rather copy and paste them into your browser.
5. Be smarter than your smartphone. In 2012, mobile apps and compromised QR codes downloaded viruses onto your phone. This scam will only to continue to grow in 2013 if consumers aren’t careful with their cell phones. Make sure before you download or click on your mobile device, that you are sure of the source.
4. It’s all foreign to me. Foreign lotteries are illegal in the United States and are often fraudulent. Consumers who receive phone calls informing them that they’ve won a lottery they never entered are advised to hang up immediately and never give out any of their personal information.
3. Beware before you buy. Online shopping is hugely popular. The BBB advises, though, that consumers verify the source before they make a purchase. Gift card exchange sites are common these days, but many consumers have been shirked by the switching party when, after sending their full gift card, they receive a gift card in return with only a percentage of the amount that was promised to them.
2. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean you should ignore it. The fine print is there for a reason! Read it. Understand it. Never sign a contact without doing so. Tricks and caveats are often included in the fine print of a contract. Don’t get caught in a bad deal because you didn’t read the fine print before signing.
1. Check with your BBB before you do business. It’s the best advice we can give you. We have reviews on hundreds of thousands of businesses across the county, but we also offer our advice and are a great resource if you need help from a governmental or regulatory agency. So give us a call (858.496.2131), drop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or find us online http://bbb.org. We can’t wait to talk to you!