Submitted by: Maryanne Dailey, Senior Vice President, Better Business Bureau of Southern Piedmont
At the beginning of the new year, you may have resolved to eat healthier, get organized or find a new job. Now that spring is approaching consider adding to your list of resolutions a promise to be savvier about scams. Follow the Better Business Bureau’s five tips and reduce your chances of becoming the next victim of a scam.
Scammers are constantly devising new tricks and refining old ones. But no matter what cons emerge keeping these tried and true tips will go a long way towards keeping you safe.
Keep your computer programs up-to-date
Those reminders to update your Internet browser, operating system and other software are annoying, but don’t ignore them. Keeping your programs current is a great defense against malware. Software manufactures continually update their programs to protect against the latest viruses.
Set tough passwords
To create strong passwords, combine lowercase and capital letters with a mix of numbers and symbols. Go ahead and write your passwords down, but don’t store this cheat sheet on your computer.
Keep your smartphone safe
Take the same precautions on your mobile device as you do on your computer. Protect your phone with a passcode, keep your software up-to-date and watch out for malware disguised as apps (http://www.bbb.org/council/news-events/bbb-scam-alerts/2014/02/smartphone-malware/).
Know the telltale signs
A little common sense goes a long way in spotting scams. Watch out for anything that’s too good (or sensational) to be true. This covers everything from “free” gift cards to instant job offers to scandalous celebrity videos. And be skeptical of any communications riddled with typos and poor grammar. If it looks like a scam, it probably is.
Don’t act immediately… research first
Most scams urge you to act right now, before you’ve had a chance to consider your options. Always be sure to do your research. Depending on the occasion, this can be anything from getting three contractor quotes to performing a quick online search. Just don’t be pressured into a commitment before doing your homework.
For more tips and advice for a scam-free year, check out Stopthinkconnect.org, a website created by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Anti-Phishing Working Group. Check out their tips for remaining scam free and protecting your mobile device.
To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper