Quit sending money to people you don't know, says BBB

The start of a new year and even more so a new decade, always leads to decisions to think, live, work and operate better, whether as an individual or business. Better Business Bureau is sharing their list of five things people should stop doing in 2020 in order to protect themselves from scams and frauds.

Do not waste money on unethical businesses or scams. When making a purchase or choosing a business, always check with BBB. Making careful decisions now can save you time, money, and headaches later. Research all companies at BBB.org, and check BBB Scam Tracker regularly to see what scams are happening in your area.

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Quit sending money to people you don't know. Stop paying for online purchases that you have not verified in person by wiring money to someone you do not know or have never met. In 2019, the majority of online purchase scams occurred when a payment was made in exchange for goods or services, but nothing was delivered. The most common products affected included pets, automobile parts, clothing, and cosmetics. Also, remember that retail gift cards are not an acceptable form of payment and always use a credit card as it offers extra protection in the event something goes wrong with your transaction.

Do not share personal information with people you don't know. No matter who they say they are, how attractive their online profile seems, where the caller ID says they are calling from or what time of day the phone rings, do not share personal or financial information with a stranger. Fraudsters can spoof telephone numbers and oftentimes create fake online identities. They also impersonate businesses, financial institutions, government departments and other organizations we recognize and trust. If you receive a suspicious call, try hanging up and contacting the organization directly using a number on their website or on a document they sent to you via post or email.

Stop oversharing on social media. Posting pictures of your pets and other personal information and then using these same things as passwords makes it extremely easy for your online accounts to be compromised. To make things worse, 73% of users repeat the same password for multiple online accounts. Try to create strong passwords that vary across accounts and are difficult to guess, keeping in mind that every extra character in your password reduces the risk of your account being hacked. Also, change your passwords frequently – at least two or three times per year – and never share your passwords with anyone.

Avoid abbreviating the year 2020. Writing “/20” without the first two digits may leave both businesses and consumers vulnerable to scammers. Fraudsters can capitalize on the use of abbreviated dates in the new decade, altering document dates to their benefit by adding just two digits. For instance, the date “1/10/20” could be changed to “1/10/2019,” making businesses and consumers vulnerable to an array of fraud. Cheques, bank drafts, pay orders, bills, contracts and other legal documents and more could be susceptible to alteration.

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