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Tuesday, March 08 2016

BBB Consumer Protection Week Tips

Adapted from Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Central New England, Inc. press releases:

BBB of Central New England is a proud supporter of National Consumer Protection Week, March 6th through March 12, 2016, a coordinated campaign encouraging customers nationwide to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions.  Millions of people turn to BBB each year for information and resources on businesses, scams, and marketplace issues. "BBB Business Reviews provide a lot of background information on a business, including complaint and customer review history," said Nancy B. Cahalen, President & CEO of the BBB of Central New England.

As part of National Consumer Protection Week, BBB offers 5 easy steps people can take to become smarter & savvier consumers:

1. Always check out a business with BBB first:  Go to www.bbb.org to find a company's BBB Business Review, which provides a variety of information to help consumers gain insight on an organization they may be interested in working with.

2. Get everything in writing and always read the fine print:  Contracts are meant to protect a business and consumers by outlining the terms of an agreement.  While it's natural to want to skim through parts of long-written terms and conditions, it's important to fully understand your rights and what you're agreeing to.  Before you sign a contract, read the fine print carefully; even if it means taking it home and sleeping on it.  Also, don't just take a sales associate's word for anything, get all promises in writing.

3. Protect your identity and your pocketbook:  Fighting identity theft means staying vigilant both online and offline.  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".  Finally, before entering your banking information, always confirm that the business is trustworthy on bbb.org.

4. Never wire money to someone you don't know:  Many scams bilk victims by convincing them to wire money because 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 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 information to access the debit card is given away, the money can be taken off and virtually impossible to trace.  Beware if you are asked to pay by wire transfer or prepaid debit card.

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 your local BBB, the Federal Trade Commission, or your state Attorney General's office.

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For more consumer tips and information visit bbb.org or call 1-866-566-9222 and, for the latest, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

About Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Central New England
The mission of BBB is to promote and foster the highest ethical relationship between businesses and consumers, through voluntary self-regulation, business and consumer education, and service excellence. For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been connecting consumers to trusted businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. People turn to BBB more than 165 million times last year for BBB Business Reviews on over 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB of Central New England, Inc. was founded in 1940 and serves 225 communities in Worcester, Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin, and Berkshire counties, as well as parts of Middlesex County, and 7 towns in Connecticut. BBB of Central New England is one of 113 local, independent, BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

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