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Resolve to be a smarter consumer
The start of a new year is a great time to resolve to be a smarter, safer consumer. Better Business Bureau (BBB) has 10 resolutions for 2012 that can help you fight scammers, prevent identity theft, and save money:
•Always check out a business with BBB: Nearly 9,500 local businesses meet BBB standards and are qualified to use the BBB Accredited Business seal. Check with your BBB to find business reviews for more than 100,000 local businesses.
•Get everything in writing: Do not just take a company’s word for it. Get every verbal agreement in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings later.
•Always read the fine print: The details are always in the fine print. Take time to read through all contracts, paperwork, and documents in their entirety before signing anything. This will ensure that you know what is expected and fully agree to what you’re signing.
•Be skeptical of “job offers” that promise easy money: With a high national unemployment rate, scammers are targeting people desperate to find a job. Beware of any job offer, work-at-home scheme, or business opportunity that promises big money for little work and no experience.
•Keep your computer safe: If you have not already done so, install anti-virus software on your computer and check regularly for software and operating system updates. Do not open attachments or click on links coming from unknown senders.
•Never wire money to someone you do not know: Tracking money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union is extremely difficult, and once the money has been wired, it is nearly impossible to get it back.
•Fight identity theft: Shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones, and digital data safely. BBB offers tips and checklists on what to shred, and hosts a bi-annual Shred Day event to help you stay safe.
•Ask your BBB for help: File a complaint with your BBB if you have a disagreement with a business or feel you have been victimized by a scammer.
•Give wisely: Philanthropists donate to charities all year long. Whether donating your time, treasure, or talent, ask questions and do your research to ensure your money is going where you think it is going.
•Fight fake check fraud: Thanks to technology, scammers have the ability to create professional-looking phony checks. Educate yourself on the common types of check fraud and be extremely wary of checks that come with claims that you’ve won the lottery, are eligible for a government grant, or have landed a job as a secret shopper.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit www.bbb.org.
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