This week a security company’s computer was hacked and money stolen from many customer accounts. It’s more important than ever to resolve to be a savvy internet user and wise consumer. Your Better Business Bureau offers the following New Year’s resolutions to become a safer and wiser consumer in 2012:
1. Fight identity theft. Always shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely. Don’t provide your social security number, credit card number, debit card pin, bank account information, or your driver’s license number to anyone on the phone unless you are certain they represent a legitimate business. Don’t leave financial information in your mailbox that might be accessed by identity thieves.
2. Keep criminals from stealing information on your computer and online. Every password and every computer can be hacked with enough time and effort. Purchase virus software and keep it updated. Don’t click through to links or websites you are unsure of. The more difficult you make it for someone to get your password, the better. Use at least 8 characters in your password, only do business online with reputable organizations on secure (https) websites. Don’t use the same password on different important online accounts.
3. 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.
4. Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Many scammers request that you wire money back to them. Scammers know tracking money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union is extremely difficult. Even more troubling, it’s nearly impossible to get your money back.
5. 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, are eligible for a government grant or have landed a job as a secret shopper.
6. Get everything in writing. Don’t just take a business’ word for it. Get agreements in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings between your expectations and what the business delivers.
7. Look for the BBB seal and always check businesses out before buying. 400,000 businesses meet the BBB’s Standards for Trust and bear the BBB Accreditation Seal. Your BBB doesn’t just report on Accredited Businesses, you can access BBB Business Reviews for nearly 4 million businesses by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (616)774-8230 or toll free (800)684-3222.
8. 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. The BBB will contact the business and ask for their explanation of the issue. Often, the BBB can assist in reaching a resolution.