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BBB Tip: Five resolutions for a fraud-free new year

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (BBB) -- Every year, millions of consumers fall prey to scams. Some lose money immediately, while others become the victims of identity theft that can lead to years of problems. Fortunately, there are practical resolutions you can make to help keep your wallet and identity safe in 2021.

Add these must-dos to your New Year's resolutions list. By taking just a few practical measures, you can help make the upcoming year fraud-free for you and your family.

I resolve to be cautious with email.  Be on guard if you receive unsolicited emails from a person or a company. Remember that scammers can make emails look like they are from a legitimate business, government agency, or reputable organization (even BBB!). Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails. 

I resolve to never send money to strangers. If you haven't met a person face-to-face, don't send them money. This is especially true if the person asks you to transfer funds using a pre-paid debit card or CashApp. Money sent to strangers in this way is untraceable and once it is sent, there's no getting it back. Scammers will try to trick you into panicking – so you’ll pay up before you can think the situation through. Don’t fall for it!

I resolve to do research before making online payments and purchases. When shopping online, or if you are asked to make a payment online, do your research before you enter your payment information. Ask yourself: Is this a person or business I know and trust? Do they have a working customer service number? Where is the company physically located? Would I be making payments through a secure server (https://....com)? Have I checked to see if others have complained?

I resolve to use my best judgment when sharing my personal information. Sharing Sensitive personal information with scammers opens you up to ID theft. Never share your banking and credit card information, birth date, address, Social Security/Social Insurance number, or Medicare number with someone who contacted you out of the blue.

I resolve to be social media smart. Make use of privacy settings on social media and only connect with people you actually know. Be careful about including personal information in your profile and never reveal your address and other sensitive information – even in a “fun” quiz. Scammers may use this information to make themselves pass as a friend or relative and earn your trust. Also, be careful when buying products you saw on social mediaBBB Scam Tracker has received thousands of complaints about misleading Facebook and Instagram ads.

Dave Davis

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