It’s National Consumer Protection Week. That means another opportunity for your Better Business Bureau to geek out, warning you about scams. While we could go on and on until nobody wants to talk to us at parties, we thought we’d give you just the top tips to avoid being scammed. Keep these in your back pocket (literally, figuratively, we’ll take either), share them with your friends, family, co-workers, strangers at parties… you get the point.
While the tips on this list may look familiar, a refresher course in consumer safety 101 can prevent a lot of heartbreak down the road. I’m pretty sure there’s an old fortune cookie saying that goes something like: It’s easier to protect your identity now than try to recover it later. These scam tips work, if you remember them.
Let’s dive right in.
Here are your top tips to avoid being scammed
• Do not ever send
money to someone you have not met face-to-face. Especially don’t do this if
they ask you to wire transfer money, use a prepaid debit card or a gift card.
They are untraceable.
• Never click on attachments or links in unsolicited emails or
texts. They can contain malware for your computer and steal your identity.
• Don’t believe it’s real just because it looks real. Logos,
fonts and all appearance details can be copied onto emails and documents that
look official. Same goes for websites. Caller ID can also be faked.
• Only make online purchases when you know the source is
legitimate. Website addresses should have the “s” in “https.” There should be a
small lock icon on the address bar. Read reviews of the merchandise. Look up
the company at bbb.org.
• Be cautious of anyone you meet online, such as dating sites,
Craigslist and social media.
• Don’t share personal identification information with anyone
who has contacted you out of the blue. This goes for email, phone calls, texts,
social media and your front door. Guard banking numbers, Social Security
numbers and insurance numbers.
• Reject pressure to “act immediately.” Scammers want you to act
before you’ve thought it through.
• Only make payment for purchases through secure, traceable
means. No wire transfers, prepaid money cards or gift cards when pressured to
do so. Reject high upfront payments, high pressure sales tactics and simple
handshake deals. Get a contract and read it all (yes, that means the fine print, too).
• Watch out when sharing on social media. Imposters may read up
on you and sound as if they know you. Never post your travel plans.
In addition to the above tips for online activity, there are a
few things to remember regarding other ways scammers victimize consumers:
• Shred all paper such as junk mail and financial documents, old
bills and medical paperwork.
• Monitor your financial accounts and check out any unknown
transaction, no matter how small.
• Keep all software and virus protection programs updated.
So, in conclusion, I’ll leave you with a pearl of wisdom from my
old basketball coach: the best defense is a good offense. Get smart, win all
the sports metaphors and beat those scammers!
If you have questions regarding other issues
surrounding your consumer protection visit our website at bbb.org.