BBB’s 10 tips for becoming consumer savvy
Feb 15, 2012, 11:28 a.m.
The Better Business Bureau offers you this advice for becoming a wiser consumer this year:
- Beware of job offers to make easy money. Scammers continue to target job hunters, so beware of offers, work-at-home schemes or business opportunities that promise big money for little work and no experience.
- Look for the BBB seal and always check businesses out before buying. Nearly 400,000 businesses meet the BBB’s Standards for Trust and bear the BBB Accreditation Seal. But the BBB doesn’t just report on accredited businesses. That way we can tell you about the bad guys to watch out for as well! You can review BBB Business Reviews for nearly 4 million businesses nationwide by visiting bbb.org or calling 759-1300 or (800) 222-8754.
- Always read the fine print—especially for free trial offers. Thousands of people complained to the BBB last year after signing up online for free trial offers that resulted in repeated charges to their credit or debit cards - sometimes amounting to as much as hundreds of dollars every month. Read the terms and conditions of free trial offers before handing over credit or debit card numbers.
- Keep your computer safe. Install anti-virus software onto your computer and regularly check for software and operating system updates and patches. Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails unless you can confirm they came from trusted sources.
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Many scams require you to wire money back to the scammers. Scammers know tracking money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union is extremely difficult. Even more troubling? It’s nearly impossible to get your money back.
- Fight identity theft. Always shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely. Need to know what to save and what to toss? The BBB offers tips and checklists on what to shred and hosts nationwide semi-annual free shredding events to help you stay safe. Look for our next free shredding event in April.
- Ask the BBB for help. File a complaint with your BBB if you have a disagreement with a business or think you’ve been ripped off by a scammer.
- Create a budget and stick to it. If you’re cash-strapped, setting a budget can help you stay afloat. Your BBB has advice on how to create a budget and to help you get out and stay out of debt at bbb.org.
- Fight fake check fraud. Educate yourself on the common types of check fraud. Be wary of checks that come with claims you’ve won the lottery, are eligible for a government grant or have landed a job as a secret shopper.
- Get everything in writing. Don’t just take a business’ word for it. Get all verbal agreements in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings between your expectations and what the business delivers.
Being a savvy consumer is ultimately about using money wisely. Following these simple resolutions will help keep your money away from scammers and bad businessmen.
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