Every year, the BBB offers consumers New Year’s resolution suggestions that will help them protect themselves from scams. As 2021 draws to a close, here are some recommendations for 2022:
Online shopping has become a huge way for people to shop. Resolve to only use a credit card for purchases, never a debit card. If you do a lot of online shopping, try creating a separate credit card that is dedicated only to online shopping.
Beware of posts on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp that appear to be from your friends but have special offers on products or government grants. Often your friends have not sent you the message, their address book has been hacked.
Also beware of “Clickbait” messages on social media. Messages like “Your computer is infected” or pop-ups like “Pictures from recent disaster” that ask you to click on links are dangerous. Don’t click on it!
Hang up on robocalls. The recorded messages are usually scams. The IRS, Social Security, Medicare, and other government agencies are not calling. Don’t believe the caller ID, which is easily spoofed, and if it says “press two to be removed from our call list”, don’t believe it and don’t press two. Hang up.
You haven’t won. Calls claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House or other sweepstakes saying you’ve won are scams. Never believe these calls and never send money to claim a prize, no matter what the excuse.
Never pay with gift cards. The appellant claims that you have not paid your electric bill or that you are in trouble with the law. You have to pay them, but they insist on gift cards. It does not make sense. No legitimate agency or business asks you to pay for them with gift cards.
Prepare your car for winter. Check the tires, hoses, belts, battery, wiper blades, and antifreeze to make sure the car is prepared for the cold. Repair or replace parts now rather than seeing the car break down in the middle of a February blizzard.
Check with charities before making a donation. If you receive a shipment from a charity you don’t know, check with BBB first to see if it meets our 20 Ethical Standards. Many charities refuse to reveal how they spend their donations; make sure they provide full disclosure and transparency to BBB before you send them money.
Buy from local retailers. As you can see from our disclaimers above, buying online is not always safe. Buying from local retailers ensures you get the merchandise you want, rather than worrying about your online purchase coming up broken, inaccurate, or never happening at all! Plus, you support local businesses and our community.
Check contractors and services to make sure they are BBB accredited companies before you hire them. BBB does company background checks and reviews customer experience before allowing contractors to belong to BBB. Just go to BBB.org and check out their BBB report.
Reghan Winkler is executive director of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB can be found on the Internet at bbb.org/us/oh/lima.