The Better Business Bureau offers 10 tips to help consumers stay safe in 2013
Dec. 31, 2012 at 6:31 a.m.
Updated Dec. 31, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
For more information, call the Better Business Bureau at 512-445-4748 or visit http://www.bbb.org.
The Better Business Bureau challenges people to be smarter and safer consumers in 2013. By following these 10 New Year's resolutions laid out in a Better Business Bureau news release, consumers will be prepared to combat scammers and protect themselves from fraud.
Do your research. Whether it's a business you're looking to hire or a product you're looking to buy, study up. Check out a company's BBB Business Review at bbb.org. For product information, go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Keep your computer safe. Install anti-virus software and regularly check for software and operating system updates. Don't open attachments or click on links in emails unless the email came from someone you know and trust.
Don't take a company's word for it. Get every verbal agreement in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings.
Never wire money to someone you don't know. Many scams require money to be wired back to the scammers. Tracking money sent via a money wiring service is almost impossible.
Protect your identity. Shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cellphones and digital data safely. Safely store all personal documents, such as Social Security card. Pull your credit report at least once a year and check credit and debit card statements frequently.
Shop trustworthy websites. Before you provide personal or banking information over the Internet, make sure you're using a trusted site. Look for the "s" in https:// as opposed to http:// in the address box.
Give wisely. To ensure your time, treasure and talent are going to the cause you want to support, research charities at give.org. There, you can check their legitimacy and see how their monetary donations are distributed.
Don't be pressured. If a company, organization or salesperson uses overly aggressive sales tactics to pressure you into a purchase or on-the-spot decision, that's a red flag. Walk away.
Limit information shared on social media pages. Scammers use such sites to gather information on potential victims. Avoid sharing too much personal information and check your privacy settings. Never announce through a social media site that you are going out of town or won't be home for a specified amount of time.
Let your Better Business Bureau help. It is here to promote marketplace trust. If you have an issue with a business or feel you have been scammed, file a complaint.