Thousands of consumers turn to BBB as the preeminent resource on businesses, and our goal is to go the extra mile in encouraging consumers to take full advantage of their rights.
1. Always check out a business with BBB first.
Go to centraltx.bbb.org to see a company's BBB Business Review. A BBB Business Review will tell you how many complaints a company has received and whether the company responded to the complaints.
You can also find a trustworthy business using BBB Member Pages, which lists local BBB Accredited Businesses by industry.
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 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 e-mails.
Shop online through secure sites only and always confirm 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.
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 Better Business Bureau at www.centraltx.bbb.org
Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov
Your state Attorney General's office
Each day during NCPW, BBB will issue a daily consumer protection tip on a variety of consumer issues, such as finding a contractor, securing your mobile device credit and debit cards, buying a car, giving wisely to charity and other important marketplace issues.
In addition, BBB professionals will be participating in several speaking engagements across Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin educating consumers on identity theft and common scams.
Check in daily with BBB through Facebook (www.facebook.com/yourBBB), Twitter (@CentralTexasBBB) and our blog (watchyourbuck.com) to see the daily consumer protection tips and to share ideas and tips of your own.