Every year BBB offers consumers some suggested New Years resolutions that will help them be safe from scams. As 2021 comes to a close, here are a few recommendations for 2022:
1.) Buying online has become an enormous way people shop. Resolve to only use a credit card for purchases, never a debit card. If you do lots of online shopping, try to set up a special separate credit card dedicated only to online shopping.
2.) Beware of messages on social media like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp that appear to be from your friends but offer special offers on products or government grants. Often your friends didn’t send you the message, their address book was hijacked.
3.) Also beware of “Clickbait” messages on social media. Messages like “Your computer is infected” or popups like “Pictures of the recent disaster” which ask you to click on links are dangerous. Don’t click on them.
4.) Hang up on robocalls. Recorded messages are usually scams. IRS, Social Security, Medicare and other government agencies don’t call. Don’t believe caller ID, which is easily faked, and if it says, “press two to be removed from our calling list,” don’t believe it and don’t press two. Just hang up.
5.) You didn’t win. Calls claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House or other sweepstakes saying that you won are scams. Never believe these calls and never send money to claim a prize, no matter what the excuse.
6.) Never pay with gift cards. The caller claims you didn’t pay your electric bill or you are in trouble with the law. You must pay them, but they insist on gift cards. This is nonsense. No legitimate agency or company asks you to pay them with gift cards.
7.) Get your car ready for winter. Check the tires, hoses, belts, battery, wiper blades and antifreeze to be sure the car is ready for cold weather. Repair or replace items now rather than having the car fail in the middle of a February blizzard.
8.) Check out charities before you donate. If you receive a mailing from an unfamiliar charity, check with BBB first to see if they meet 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.
9.) Buy from local retailers. As you see from our warnings above, online buying is not always safe. Buying from local retailers ensures that you get the merchandise you want, rather than worrying that your online purchase may arrive broken, be inaccurate or never arrive at all. Plus you are supporting local businesses and our community.
10.) Check out contractors and services to make sure they are BBB accredited businesses before you hire them. BBB checks the background of companies and reviews customer experience before allowing contractors to belong to BBB. Just go to BBB.org and see their BBB report.
(Dick Eppstein is the president of the Better Business Bureau that serves a 24-county area of Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan from his office in Sylvania Township.)