Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, says consumers can easily protect themselves from poor marketplace practices and scammers.
“Throughout the year Better Business Bureau alerts consumers to various scams and poor marketplace behavior. Consumers can start the new decade wiser and better prepared to take control by arming themselves with information about how these scams work.”
Criminals rely on consumers’ ignorance of how scams work, and the belief they can get something for nothing.
Connecticut BBB offers these tips to protect yourself and save money in 2010:
-Do not send money by wire transfer to anyone you don’t know. Any purchase or work-at-home scheme that involves depositing a check and wiring money to a third party is a scam.
-Steer clear of depositing unsolicited checks from third parties. The payoff may seem appealing, however in the vast majority of cases these checks are fake. Although your bank may accept the check for deposit, it will nonetheless bounce and you will be responsible for any overdraft charges incurred and any money you wired to the person who sent the check.
-Protect financial and other personal information. Avoid giving out bank account and credit card numbers, your date of birth and social security numbers to anybody over the telephone or in an e-mail, even if it looks like legitimate correspondence from your financial institution and warns that your account will be suspended unless you update your information.
-Steer clear of correspondence telling you that you have won a lottery. Regardless of how many times consumers are warned about phony lotteries originating in foreign countries, consumers are still getting stung. Lottery scams are alive and well because people still fall for them.
-Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making any purchase or signing a contract. Many scams involve high-pressure sales techniques and often leave consumers with “buyer’s remorse” once they have time to think about the contract they signed. Resist the temptation to give in to “One day only” offers. Check the company with BBB and talk it over with family members or friends before making a commitment.
-Practice safe surfing. The Internet is not as safe a place as it used to be. Think twice about clicking on hyperlinks in e-mails and on social networking sites. These can automatically download malicious software than can steal private information from your computer.
-Be careful of agreeing to “special offers” and “discount coupons,” even on familiar sites. These often pop-up after you have handed over your credit card information. If you click on them you may unwittingly be enrolled in a service or club that will automatically debit your credit card account monthly.
-Read fine print. More than ever, terms and conditions can contain important information about automatic and repeated billing (even for “free trial” offers), cancellation fees and how your credit card and personal information may be shared.
-Get all verbal promises in writing. Make sure a final contract contains all verbal promises made by a salesperson. It is up to you to make sure you understand all provisions of a contract before signing it.
-Deal with reputable merchants. Start with Trust by visiting bbb.org for a Reliability report on a business or to select a Better Business Bureau Accredited Business.
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Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.