Consumer Resolutions Don’t Cost a Cent and Have Big Payoffs
Wallingford, CT – January 6, 2014 – Some of the finest things in life are free, and Connecticut Better Business Bureau has some consumer resolutions for 2014 that don’t cost anything and can help protect your money at the same time.
The Internet is replete with lists of top 10 New Year’s resolutions, ranging from improving diet and exercising, to planning new experiences. However, saving money and avoiding fraud and identity theft go a long way towards reducing stress.
Always research before you buy or sign
- Think of problems you and friends have had with products, services, professionals, suppliers and websites. You can avoid many of these by checking a business or charity review for free at www.bbb.org
. Nearly 400,000 businesses meet BBB standards and are qualified to use the BBB Accredited Business seal on their websites and their locations. BBB has reviews on four million businesses across the country.
Read the fine print – The terms and conditions will tell you not only what is covered, but also what is not, as well as exclusions and other information relating to fees and any cancellation penalties. This is particularly important when registering for a free trial. Make certain you note when the trial expires and what you will be charged at the end of the trial if you continue with the service. Make sure that “free” really is free before handing over your credit card number.
Get everything in writing - Verbal promises and a handshake don’t cut it anymore. Get all verbal representations in writing to limit miscommunication and a disconnect between what you expect and what a business delivers.
Keep your computer safe – Your online commerce is only as secure as your computer. It’s not sufficient to only install anti-malware software, but also update and scan your computer weekly. Also – if your browser or operating system inform you about available updates – download and install them. These make your computer more secure.
Carefully check your financial statements
- This is where you will find errors and unauthorized charges, which can offer the first indication that someone has stolen your credit card information. Also, get your free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com.
Don’t do business at your front door - You should obtain three bids and take the time to check out an offer, as well as a business’s State of Connecticut registration, insurance, licensing and the marketplace record of a company or individual.
Be proactive – not reactive - Rather than responding to offers for charity or services at your front door, over the phone or by email, find providers and charities yourself, and either call them or go directly to their website – not through a link in an email from someone you don’t know.
Don’t be rushed into making decisions – This applies to charitable appeals and any other kind of solicitation. Do your research and don’t be frightened into making a decision, especially when your property is damaged in a storm or accident. Start by contacting your insurer.
Be skeptical – The red flags include ridiculously low online prices, or emails or calls supposedly from the bank, government agencies or doctors’ office, especially if they want to “verify” personal and financial information.
Steer clear of “job offers” that promise easy money - With high unemployment and long job searches common, scammers target people who are desperate to find jobs. Beware of any job offer, work-at-home scheme or business opportunity that promises big money for little work and no experience.
Fight identity theft
- Safely dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data. Hackers can extract information from these devices, even though you delete it. Even fax machines and printers contain hard drives with data. Ask the manufacturer or a reputable technician how to safely dispose of these. Also, lock away or shred documents that include sensitive financial information. BBB offers tips and checklists on what to shred
Beware of check fraud
- Thanks to advances in printing technology, criminals have the ability to create professional-looking phony checks. Educate yourself about common types of check fraud
and be extremely wary of checks that come with claims that you’ve won a lottery, are eligible for a government grant or have landed a job as a secret shopper. These are almost always scams.
Ask BBB for help
- File a complaint
with BBB if you have a disagreement with a business or have been cheated by a scammer.