BBB Offers New Year's Resolutions for Consumers

October 22, 2012

As 2011 draws to a close, many people are resolving to improve their lives in 2012. Some hope to find a new job or that “special someone”; others will focus on getting healthy or physically fit; and many will decide it is time to take control of their finances.

“Whatever your personal goals are for the New Year, the Better Business Bureau encourages you to be alert to scam artists. They will try to tap into people’s desire to improve their lives in the coming months. BBB anticipates an increase in advertisements for gold sales, computer “virus” scams, “phishing” schemes, door to door product sales and other tempting offers,” said Don MacKinnon, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving the Atlantic Provinces.

The most important New Year’s Resolution consumers can make, MacKinnon said, would be to contact the BBB before responding to any enticing, too-good-to-be-true promotion and before making a major purchasing or investment decision.

In addition to checking with the BBB, consumers are advised to keep the following NEW YEAR resolutions in mind for 2012.

Never succumb to the hard sell, “one day only” offer. Resolve to avoid sales or investment pitches demanding you “act now” or lose the opportunity forever – think things through, talk to family and friends, and check with the BBB for information.

Everything should be in writing. Always make sure contract provisions match what the salesperson or advertisement said. Resolve to read and thoroughly understand every provision in the contract, before you sign.

With a plan, comes action. If your household operates without a budget, you may be just one paycheck away from a financial crisis. Resolve to establish and adhere to a budget that provides the means to deal with unexpected expenses, while enabling you to decrease debt and increase savings.

You haven’t won anything! Sweepstakes and lottery scams abound. Resolve to never send money to collect prizes – legitimate sweepstakes and lotteries do not require winners to pay money to claim awards. Be leery if you receive a check, are told to deposit the “winnings” and instructed to wire money back to the company or an unknown person. The check will ultimately bounce and you will lose that money.

Easy” money is never easy. Resolve to resist work-at-home promotions from unknown companies promising big bucks. Be similarly suspicious of ads from lenders “guaranteeing” loan regardless of your income, credit history or financial situation. Advance fee loan and work-at-home offers invariably ask for money “up front” and deliver little, if any value in return.

Always deal with reliable merchants. Resolve to always ensure a business has a permanent address and phone number, check customer references and contact the BBB for information about the company’s marketplace record.

Resolve to safeguard your personal information. Don’t give out your credit card, bank account, driver’s license or Social Insurance numbers to anyone you don’t know, no matter how tempting the offer. Always shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely. Install anti-virus software on your computer and make sure that you keep up to date on any updates and patches. Do not open attachments or click on links in emails unless you can confirm the email came from someone you trust.