Better Business Bureau: Be cautious when using your devices for online banking

By Tracy Bracy
July 14, 2014 at 2:14 a.m.

In our tech-savvy world, everything is readily accessible and convenient, even banking. Gone are the days of waiting in line at the bank or even waiting for your computer to boot up.

Now, you can access your bank account from anywhere in the world via your smartphone or tablet. Still, it's important to be cautious. There are a few ways to stay safe from hackers: Password-protect your phone or tablet and don't stay logged in to your account.

Also, never provide personal information unless you initiate contact with your bank or other financial institution. Finally, if your device gets stolen or lost, change your online financial passwords, report it to your service provider and let your bank know so it can be on the lookout for suspicious purchases.

Ways to avoid Craigslist scams

When Craigslist hit the Internet several years ago, it promised to transform classified advertising, and it has. You can find merchandise, jobs, even a place to live if you've got the time and the patience to comb through the site.

Unfortunately, you can also get duped by scam artists looking to make a buck off those who don't bother or know how to properly research an offer on the website.

The Better Business Bureau warns to watch for red flags when using classified sites. Be wary if you are asked to wire money. Never give out your Social Security number, personal financial information or any other type of personally identifying information to people you do not know. Also, be cautious of those who say they are out of the country or ask for money up front.

Don't get scammed by group-buying deals

Every so often, I need a massage. So I keep an eye out on all those group-buying websites, hoping to score a good deal. When I find one, though, I have to take a breath before pressing "buy now." These collective buying sites work by offering products or services at a reduced price on the condition that a minimum number of consumers buy the deal.

That's sometimes when the deal can fizzle out. Most complaints allege people had difficulty getting businesses to honor the deal they purchased or felt misled about what was included as part of the special offer.

Some were unable to use their discount because of strict stipulations. The bureau advises to be sure and read all of the fine print before you purchase that discount deal.

Using mobile and device apps can compromise your personal information

Smartphone apps were a great discovery for me. I can check the weather, check my email and play games. There are so many great free apps available. Unfortunately, many of those free apps come with strings attached, often collecting your information for marketing purposes. There's a chance your information could be shared without your consent, however. The Better Business Bureau urges you to be cautious before you download.

It's not always easy to tell if an app is going to collect your information or how it will use it. Be sure to research companies and apps before downloading, including industry publications and user reviews. Actually, read the terms and conditions to be sure your information will not be shared with a third party.

Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by e-mail at



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