Roanoke, VA – All this week BBB Serving Western VA is celebrating National Consumer Protection Week, a coordinated nationwide campaign that encourages consumers to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions.
National Consumer Protection Week is a great opportunity for consumers to learn new ways they can protect themselves from fraud, identity theft, scams, and more. This collaboration with Federal, State, and local agencies is near and dear to BBB’s core mission. Millions of consumers turn to BBB each year for information and resources on businesses, scams and marketplace issues.
“Our mission is to help people find businesses they can trust,” said Julie Wheeler, President and CEO of the BBB Serving Western VA. “Taking just a few seconds to check a BBB Business Profile before doing business can save you from a lot of pocketbook pain and possibly even identity theft.”
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, BBB offers five easy steps people can take to become smarter and safer shoppers:
1. Always check out a business with BBB first.
- Go to www.bbb.org to view a company’s BBB Business Profile, which provides a variety of information to help consumers gain insight on a business they may be interested in working with.
2. Get everything in writing and always read the fine print.
- Contracts are meant to protect businesses and consumers by outlining the terms of the agreement. While it’s natural to want to skim through parts of the long-written terms and conditions, it is important that customers fully understand their rights and what they’re agreeing to. Whenever signing a contract, BBB recommends reading the fine print carefully, even if it means taking it home and sleeping on it.
- Don’t just take a sales associate’s word for it; get all verbal promises in writing.
3. Protect your identity—and your pocketbook.
- Fighting identity theft means staying vigilant online and offline. Protect your identity by taking the following steps:
- Always shred sensitive documents that include personal financial information such as bank, credit card and Social Security numbers.
- Monitor your financial accounts closely to more quickly detect suspicious activity.
- Make sure your computer has up-to-date anti-virus software and be extremely selective when opening attachments or clicking on links in emails.
- Shop online through secure sites by looking for the “s” in “https.” Always confirm on bbb.org that the business is trustworthy before entering your credit or debit card number.
4. Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
- Many scams bilk victims by convincing them to wire money.
- Scammers know it’s extremely difficult to track money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union.
- More troubling for victims is the fact that it’s nearly impossible to get your money back once it’s been sent via wire.
- Even if you’ve been given a check to cover the amount you’re wiring, never send money to someone you don’t know personally. The check could be fraudulent, leaving you liable for the money and any bank fees.
- Prepaid debit cards work similarly to wire transfers, once the information on the debit card is given away it is virtually impossible to trace.
5. Know where to complain.
- If you’ve been a victim of a scam or treated unfairly by a business, there are many organizations and government agencies you can turn to for help. You can file a complaint with:
1. Your Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org
2. Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov
3. Your state Attorney General’s office. For Virginia: http://www.oag.state.va.us
As part of the National Consumer Protection Week, BBB will be at the Roanoke U.S. Post Office on Tuesday, March 7th from 10am – 1pm with information on how you can protect yourself. The post office is located at 419 Rutherford Ave. in Roanoke, VA.
The BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, and free BBB Business Profiles on more than 4 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution service, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/BBBWesternVA and on Facebook at facebook.com/BBBWesternVA.
For more advice or information please visit www.bbb.org or contact the BBB Serving Western VA at (540) 342-3455 or (800) 533-5501.