CLEVELAND – Every year consumers make New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, or quit smoking. This year, the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs wants to also add a few resolutions to enable consumers to be proactive and guard against financial scammers.
Five Savvy Consumer New Year’s Resolutions:
- Ask questions and do your research. Before you give out your credit card or bank account number, sign a contract, click on the link from social media sites or email, purchase an item online, or accept a free offer — check it out. Use the internet to research a company, read consumer complaints or contact the Department of Consumer Affairs. You will be amazed at the amount of information that is out there about companies and scams.
- Read your account statements and bills. The simplest thing you can do is check for errors in account statements or bills every month. Many times scams come in the form of small dollar amounts under $10. Do not assume anything; look at every charge to see if is something you agreed to pay and if you see a charge that you did not make, inquire about it.
- Order and review credit reports. Reviewing credit reports helps you ensure your reports are accurate and can catch signs of identity theft early. To order your free annual credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Keep your smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers safe. Install anti-virus software, update software and operating systems, change your passwords every year, log out of banking and social networking apps, clear phone’s browser history, password protect devices, and never share data over public Wi-Fi networks.
- Never wire or overnight funds; give out bank, credit, or prepaid card account information to an unknown caller; or respond to free offers by clicking on link in email, text message. Scammers rely upon consumers to react to unsolicited calls or texts that threatens or claims a family member is in trouble and you must act immediately. These scams can include foreign lottery or sweepstakes winnings, calls to grandparents for help, job offers, online rental scams, fake debt collectors, and disaster related fundraising, just to name a few.
Report scams or consumer-related problems to the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs at 216-443-7010 or find more consumer tips and information by visitinghttp://fiscalofficer.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/ConsumerAffairs.aspx.