New Year's Resolution: Avoid These Scams
While making your New Year’s resolutions list, did you include goals on budgeting and spending wisely? The Better Business Bureau encourages consumers to take charge of their finances, shop and buy wisely, and stay away from marketplace scams. Among the tips to consider in 2015:
- Do not believe it just because you saw it on the Internet. Claims of fast money and “guaranteed” returns on your computer screen are no more reliable than classic chain letters and other “get rich quick schemes.”
- Guard your personal information. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. Do not give your credit card number (or the expiration date), bank account number, social security number, or driver’s license number over the phone or the Internet to anyone you do not know. Even if the caller promises a prize, an award, a “guaranteed” credit card, or a loan, do not give such personal financial information until you see written information about the offer, know that you want it, and have checked the offer out.
- Speaking of prizes, it is not a prize if you have to pay to get it. With the exception of games of skill where you pay to enter, a prize is something you win by chance, no strings attached. If you must pay for something or buy anything, then it’s a purchase, not a prize. Don’t fall for the fake checks that they are willing to send to “help out”, it will end up being counterfeit. And never wire-transfer money to anyone that you do not know personally.
- If someone from a “tech support company” calls offering to “fix” or “clean-up” your computer viruses, don’t believe it. The caller tells you that your computer is sending error messages, and they’ve detected a virus on it. He says that only a tech support employee can remove the virus, but first you must grant him access to your machine. They could download spyware onto your computer, which could allow them to monitor your keystrokes. Many people report that if they allowed the caller remote access to their computers, whether they had paid for the virus to be removed or not, they had difficulties with their computers afterwards. Some said their computer would not turn on or that certain programs/files were inaccessible.
- Do not purchase prepaid debit cards or wire-transfer money for someone that you do not know or who contacts you with an “emergency” need. Many consumers using popular services offered by Western Union, MoneyGram and Green Dot MoneyPak find, much too late, that they have been taken by scammers and that their chances of retrieving their money is remote at best.
- Do not fall for high-pressure sales tactics. An offer that is good “today only” is a sign to be even more careful. By considering your needs and comparing products, prices, terms and guarantees, you can tell a true bargain from a “too good to be true” scam.
By making resolutions to protect yourself, you can become a more informed consumer thus saving time, money and embarrassment by not falling for some of these common scams.