As we dive into 2013, the Division of Consumer Protection offers some valuable tips that will help consumers avoid identity theft and other scams throughout the year while creating sound financial habits.
Consumer Resolutions for 2013:
If you received any gift cards, certificates, social or group discount coupons over the holiday, set a date for dinner, movie or shopping with plans to use them. Check expiration dates on the discount coupons.
- Shred documents that contain any personal information.
- Smartphone users should always log out of apps (banking, social networking, etc.), clear their browser history, password protect their home screen, update operating software and NEVER share data over public Wi-Fi networks.
- Know what websites or apps your kids visit, set restrictions on permitting downloads or purchases and talk about online safety.
- Use a credit card when shopping by phone, television or online, not a debit card, so you can dispute the charge if there are problems within 60 days from receipt of the bill.
- Do not respond to emails, text messages, mail or phone calls claiming you won a prize, gift card, lottery, grant or other unexpected surprise. It is a scam! The scammers are relying on you to log in with your user name and password or click on the link provided in the unexpected email or text message. Con artists look for you to give out your name, address, account numbers over the phone or press the number to opt out from future calls. Why? To collect your information, sell it or use it to commit fraud.
- Read monthly statements on accounts and bills to ensure all charges are accurate and no hidden fees appear. Dispute any errors immediately.
Get and review your free credit reports once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies at www.annualcreditreport.com or call toll-free at 1-877-322-8228.
- Commit to making a monthly budget, save more, spend less, and pay down debts.
- Before agreeing to services with a company, review their complaint history by calling the Division of Consumer Protection toll-free at 1-800-697-1220. Also, do not forget to ask about refund policies and make sure to read contracts thoroughly before signing.
Contact the Division of Consumer Protection at 1-800-697-1220 or via our website at www.dos.ny.gov/consumer protection/ to schedule a live outreach presentation for your group on preventing identity theft and other scams.