How to Be Scam-Free in 2018

In 2016, the Federal Trade Commission stated that they received 1.3 million reports of fraud, with a total of $744 million paid to scammers. With scammers becoming more skillful, we want to help you be more vigilant and better aware of scams that could come your way.

  1. Always check a business out with BBB before you buy. Over 400,000 businesses meet BBB standards and are qualified to use an Accredited Business seal on their websites and at business locations. Visit bbb.org to find BBB Business Reviews for over 5 million businesses across North America.
  2. Be skeptical of “job offers” that promise easy money.With long job searches a common occurrence, scammers are targeting desperate job seekers. Beware of any job offer, work-at-home scheme or business opportunity that promises big money for little work and no experience.
  3. Always read the fine print—especially with “free” trial offers.Thousands of consumers complained to BBB this year after signing up for a “free” trial offer online that resulted in repeated charges to their credit or debit cards, sometimes amounting to hundreds of dollars every month. Read the terms and conditions of any “free” trial offer before handing over credit or debit card numbers.
  4. Keep your computer safe.Install anti-virus software on your computer and check regularly for software and operating system updates and patches. Don’t open attachments or click on links in emails unless you can confirm the email came from someone you trust.
  5. Never wire money to someone you don’t know.Many scams require that the victim wire money back to the scammers. Scammers know that tracking money sent via MoneyGram, Western Union or Green Dot MoneyPak is extremely difficult. Once you’ve wired the money, it’s nearly impossible to get it back.
  6. Fight identity theft. Shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely. Your BBB offers tips and checklists on what to shred, and will be hosting its next free Shred Day in April to help you stay safe.
  7. Fight fake check fraud. Thanks to advances in printing technology, scammers can create professional-looking phony checks. Be extremely wary of checks that come with claims that you’ve won a lottery, are eligible for a government grant or have landed a job as a secret shopper. These are almost always scams.
  8. Get everything in writing.Don’t just take a company’s word for it. Get every verbal agreement in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings between what you expect and what the business delivers.

Source: BBB of North Alabama and Federal Trade Commission: United States Federal Trade Commission, ftc.gov – not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403. To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to https://www.bbb.org