Flu changes each year, but the need for a vaccine doesn’t.
Start the year off right by resolving to protect yourself from fraud and unethical marketplace practices.
Scammers will always devise new cons and utilize old tricks that have worked in the past, but you can avoid becoming a victim by promising to uphold your Better Business Bureau’s top 10 resolutions for a scam-free 2018:
- Update passwords and computer programs: Install anti-virus software on your computer and check regularly for software and operating system updates and patches. Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails unless you can confirm the email came from someone you trust. In addition, create strong passwords that contain at least one uppercase letter, number and symbol. It is best to not use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Don’t act immediately: The majority of scams urge you to act immediately and encourage an emotional response. Always pause to consider your options and never feel pressured into making a commitment before doing research. Nearly 400,000 Accredited Businesses meet BBB’s tough Standards and you can visit bbb.org to search and find BBB Business Reviews for millions of businesses across North America.
- Avoid being greedy: A lot of scams appeal to our inner greed and target people with promises of fast, easy money or something that is “free.” Phony sweepstakes and promotions, unrequested gifts and “inheritances” sound enticing, but question whether they sound too good to be true. These scams usually require payment in advance to collect the money or prize, which should always be a red flag.
- Read the fine print: Whether you are signing-up for an introductory offer or hiring a professional, familiarize yourself with all associated terms and conditions. Disclosures should provide important information on the length of an offer or contract, how to opt-out of having your information shared with third parties and terms regarding payment and refunds.
- Get everything in writing: Never simply take a company or sales person’s word for being a binding agreement. Get every verbal promise in writing to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings between your expectations and what the company actually provides.
- Never wire money to strangers: Most scammers require payment be made by wire transfer because they know that once payment is made through this method, it is virtually impossible to get back. Scammers also know that paying by prepaid debit card is another untraceable way to steal victims’ money.
- Dispose of sensitive documents and items properly: Shred all hard copy documents that contain sensitive and/or financial information with a cross shredder before getting rid of them. In addition, always dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data in a secure manner by wiping them clean or hiring a reputable company to do so.
- Sign up for the Do Not Call list and question phone calls from government agencies: If you haven’t already registered with the Do Not Call list to help prevent unsolicited sales calls from businesses, visit donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. Remember that no government agency will ever solicit for this free service and that government agencies rarely, if ever, contact people by phone.
- Pull your credit reports: Start the new year knowing your credit is in good standing and your credit report is accurate. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers can receive a free copy of their credit report from each of the three nationwide reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — every 12 months. BBB reminds consumers that AnnualCreditReport.com is the only authorized source for free annual credit reports under federal law.
- Use BBB Scam Tracker: Keep up to date and educate yourself on the latest scams being reported to BBB and receive helpful consumer tips by visiting BBB Scam Tracker, you can also report scams that you come in contact with to help prevent additional victims.
Start with Trust®. BBB Serving Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.
Contact BBB at bbb.org or (337) 981-3497 any time of the day or night for information on businesses throughout North America.