The New Year is almost here and it’s more important than ever to resolve to be a savvy consumer.
“Being a savvy consumer is ultimately about using money wisely,” says Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenays. “This year, resolve to create a budget, research businesses before buying and stay away from scammers.”
Your BBB offers the following ten New Year’s resolutions to become a wiser consumer in 2012:
1. Beware of job offers to make easy money. Scammers are targeting job hunters, so beware of offers, work-at-home schemes or business opportunities promising big money for little work and no experience.
2. Look for the BBB seal and always check their businesses review out before buying. Over 3,000 businesses meet your BBB’s Standards for Trust and bear the BBB Accreditation Seal in Southern Alberta and East Kootenays. But, your BBB doesn’t just report on Accredited Businesses. You can review reliability reports for hundreds of businesses by visiting Calgary.bbb.org.
3. Always read the fine print—especially for free trial offers. Hundreds of people complained to your BBB in 2011 after signing up for free trial offers online that resulted in repeated charges to their credit or debit cards sometimes amounting to as much as hundreds of dollars every month. Read the terms and conditions of free trial offers before handing over credit or debit card numbers.
4. Keep your computer safe. Install anti-virus software onto your computer and regularly check for software and operating system updates and patches. Don’t open attachments or click on links in e-mails unless you can confirm they came from trusted sources. The latest scams involve e-mails that look authentic and come from trusted sources such as Canada Post, UPS, and the BBB, but the e-mail is a fake. If your unsure if the email is real, then check with the business to see if they sent you the email.
5. Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Many scams require you wire money back to the scammers. Scammers know tracking money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union is extremely difficult. Even more troubling is it’s nearly impossible to get your money back.
6. Fight identity theft. Always shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely.
7. Ask your BBB for help. File a complaint with your BBB if you have a disagreement with a business or been ripped off by a scammer. For the latest tips and scam info join the BBB’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/CalgaryBBB or through Twitter @CalgaryBBB or visit your BBB’s website at Calgary.bbb.org. You can even upload our BBB iPhone app.
8. Create a budget and stick to it. If you’re cash-strapped, setting a budget can help you stay afloat in 2012. Your BBB has advice on how to create a budget and help you get out and stay out of debt at www.bbb.org.
9. Fight fake check fraud. Educate yourself on the common types of check fraud and be wary of checks that come with claims you’ve won the lottery, or are eligible for a government grant.
10. Get everything in writing. Don’t just take a business’ word for it. Get verbal agreements in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings between your expectations and what the business delivers.