Better Business Bureau’s (BBB’s) goal is the advancement of marketplace trust. When scammers and unethical business practices prevail, both consumers and businesses that really are trustworthy suffer. National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 3 – 9, is a time to help people understand their consumer rights and make well-informed decisions about money. “BBB advises you to take a few moments during the next week to brush up on the ways scammers may be trying to get at your money, and consider thwarting their efforts by taking some simple precautions,” said BBB President Jim Hegarty.
BBB’s top 10 consumer tips
Remembering these things can prevent you from becoming a victim of most scams. Some of these tips will, no doubt, be familiar to you. Don’t overlook them simply because of that. There is a reason they are repeatedly cited as important advice: They work. Thwart scammers’ crooked schemes by remembering:
• 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 just 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, overpayments, high pressure sales tactics and simple handshake deals. Get a contract and read it all.
• 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 means that scammers have of victimizing 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.
If you have questions regarding other issues surrounding your consumer protection, contact your BBB at 800-856-2417, or visit the website bbb.org.