COLUMBUS, Ga — It’s National Consumer Protection Week– a time when agencies across America encourage consumers to educate themselves about their rights. It’s also a good time for consumers to become familiar with common scams criminals use to steal their money.
The Better Business Bureau of East Alabama and West Georgia offers the following advice to consumers when it comes to business transactions.
First, don’t wire transfer money for a transaction. This is especially true if you have never dealt with a business or have any question about the legitimacy of the deal. Though wire transfers themselves are perfectly above board, they are often used by criminals to get an unsuspecting consumer’s money. Once the money is wired, it’s gone.
The same advice holds true for prepaid credit, debit, and gift cards. Most are untraceable, too. iTune cards have also become popular on scammers’ wish lists. Don’t use these for business transactions with institutions or individuals you do not know and trust are credible. Once they’re used, they’re gone and so is your money.
Also, be sure to do your research. Look at how a business handles complaints. Remember, don’t dismiss a business just because it has complaints against it. Research how the business handled and settled those complaints instead. Every business has had complaints or dissatisfied customers at some point. The key factor is to see if the establishment did everything reasonable to make the customer happy.
Finally, the Better Business Bureau itself offers a great tool online to find out about scams in your area. It’s called Scam Tracker.
“Scam Tracker is a way you can research the scams that are in your particular community. You can narrow it down to your zip code and see what the scams are that are being reported to the Better Business Bureau. Along with that, somebody calls and it’s suspicious, you can call and report scams that might help warn other people,” says Kelvin Collins, Interim President of the Better Business Bureau of East Alabama and West Georgia.