Better Business Bureau: BBB celebrates National Consumer Protection Week
By Tracy Bracy
March 3, 2014 at 4:03 p.m.
Updated March 2, 2014 at 9:03 p.m.
The Better Business Bureau is joining with federal, state and local government agencies to promote consumer education during the 15th annual National Consumer Protection Week, now through March 8.
Thousands of consumers turn to Better Business Bureau as the leading reliable business resource, and our goal is to go the extra mile in encouraging consumers to take full advantage of their rights.
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Better Business Bureau offers five easy ways to become a smarter and savvier consumer.
Always check out a business with the Better Business Bureau first. Search for a trustworthy business using Better Business Bureau Member Pages, which lists local Better Business Bureau Accredited Businesses by industry. You can also visit bbb.org/central-texas to check a company's Better Business Bureau Business Review. A Better Business Bureau Business Review will tell you how many complaints a company has received and whether the company responded to the complaints.
Get everything in writing and always read the fine print. Contracts are meant to protect a business and consumers by outlining the terms of the agreement. While it's natural to want to skim through parts of the long-written terms and conditions, it is important that customers fully understand their rights and what they're agreeing to.
Whenever signing a contract, Better Business Bureau recommends reading the fine print carefully - even if it means taking it home and sleeping on it. Don't just take a sales associate's word for it; get all verbal promises in writing.
Protect your identity - and your pocketbook. Fighting identity theft means staying vigilant online and offline. Always shred sensitive documents that include personal financial information such as bank, credit card and Social Security numbers.
Monitor your financial accounts closely to more quickly detect suspicious activity.
Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and be extremely selective when opening attachments or clicking on links in emails.
Shop online through secure sites only and always confirm that the business is trustworthy before entering your credit or debit card number.
Never wire money to someone you don't know. Many scams deceive victims by convincing them to wire money. Scammers know it's extremely difficult to track, and it is nearly impossible to get your money back once it's been sent via wire.
Know where to complain. If you've been a victim of a scam or treated unfairly by a business, there are many organizations and governmental agencies you can turn to for help. You can file a complaint with: • Better Business Bureau at bbb.org/central-texas
• Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov
• Your state Attorney General's office
As cold weather passes, many consumers will start to evaluate home improvements or repairs before the summer heat sets in.
The Better Business Bureau receives hundreds of complaints every year concerning subpar work performed by contractors and encourages consumers to take the time to properly research contractors to avoid creating a bigger problem.
Always remember to get multiple bids, carefully read your contract before signing, avoid paying a large sum upfront and beware of door-to-door solicitations.
When considering home improvement projects, deal only with licensed and insured contractors. For help finding a trustworthy contractor, check out Better Business Bureau business reviews on BBB.org.
Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.