As the new year begins, it’s an important time to think about simple changes we can make to ensure that this new year is better than the last. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central Indiana offers 10 New Year’s resolutions to help you avoid scams, prevent identity theft and be a smarter consumer in 2021.
In 2021, consumers should resolve to:
- Implement a credit freeze. A credit freeze is the best way to protect yourself from financial identity theft because it restricts access to your credit file, making it impossible for identity thieves to apply for a new line of credit in your name. Best of all, it’s free to freeze and thaw your credit.
- Use technology to block robocalls and other telemarketing calls. Nomorobo, a call blocking feature, can disconnect known telemarketers or scammers from your VoIP landline after one ring. It’s free for landlines; a nominal fee for cell phones. Go to nomorobo.com to begin. Make sure you’ve registered your phones with www.donotcall.gov, too.
- Review your permissions and privacy settings on social media. If you’ve signed into an app or website using your social media credentials or taken a fun quiz on social media, you may have unwittingly given permission to third-party apps to access your personal information and contacts. On Facebook, go to “settings” and “apps and websites” to review.
- Warn others and stop fraudsters by reporting scams to BBB’s Scamtracker. Scamtracker is a crowd-sourced website where you can report if you’ve been contacted by a scammer. Since reports are plotted on a map, you can also use Scamtracker to find out what’s happening in your area. Go to org/scamtracker for more information. Scamtracker reports also help BBB educate the public with more in-depth reports via our scam studies.
- Check out businesses and charities first. A little research before you buy or donate to make sure you’re working with a reputable company or charity can save you a lot of time, money and heartache later. Check out companies at org and a full report on charities at give.org. BBB accredited businesses and charities have been evaluated by BBB, and meet and promise to maintain our Standards of Trust or Standards for Charity Accountability.
- Use secure payment methods. A scammer’s favorite way to steal your money is by asking you to pay with either a gift card or a money wire transfer, such as Money Gram or Western Union. Why? Because these payment methods are irreversible. Credit card payments are more secure because, if fraud is suspected, the charge can be disputed. If you receive a request from someone claiming to be from the IRS, a debt collector or anyone else and they ask you to pay with a gift card or a money wire transfer, it’s almost always a scam.
- Use a unique and complex password for every online account. Consider a passphrase, which is simply a long password made up of from a collection of multiple words, making them both easier to type and remember. Poor, easy-to-guess passwords are one of the most common ways cyber attackers can hack into your online accounts. If it’s too difficult to remember multiple passwords, consider a password manager. Then, you’ll only have to remember one unique and complex password instead of many.
- Enable multi-factor authentication whenever it is available. Multi-factor authentication is when you are granted access to an online account only after you have successfully provided two or more pieces of evidence, such as your password AND a unique code generated by your smartphone, emailed or texted to you. With multi-factor authentication, if hackers steal your username and password, they still can’t access your account.
- Monitor your existing financial accounts. Gone are the days when you waited for your credit card statement to come in the mail for you to review. Sign up for online access so you can review your financial accounts daily. Better yet, take advantage of free text message alerts to notify you of activity, remind you when payments are due, etc.
- File your taxes early. One common fraud during tax season involves identity theft. Scammers try to submit a return in your name and have your refund come to them. You can avoid this by beating them to it, and submitting your tax return early. Follow these BBB tips for finding the right tax preparer.
ABOUT BBB SERVING CENTRAL INDIANA: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB serving Central Indiana, which was founded in 1916 and serves 46 counties.
Dyer Indiana opened two new ice rinks at the tennis courts of Northgate Park along Calumet Avenue in Dyer Indiana, a project that has long been in the making. The rinks may be closed due to warm temperatures according to Dyer Director of Parks and Recreation Michael O’Shea. The rinks will be open from 10… Continue Reading →
Sledding in Northwest Indiana
It can get boring during the Pandemic during the winter months, however Sledding happens to be a socially distant activity for Family Fun in Northwest Indiana. In spite of the Pandemic, we suggest getting out and having some good, clean outdoor fun. Here’s a list of places to go sledding for your winter pleasure Continue Reading . . .
How To Use A Snow Blower
“Weather is more unpredictable now than ever, so you want to be ready and prepared. Now is also the best time to review your owner’s manual and operating procedures. You should know how to quickly shut off the snow thrower and how to operate the controls, ” says OPEI President and CEO Kris… Continue Reading →
Getting outside and working out can seem like a Herculean task, as the days get colder and the nights get longer. Most of us hit the pavement or gym and only the most dedicated of us can still tie up their running shoes. If you are going to do any sort of workout outside, you’re… Continue Reading →
Does your family take annual ski trips? Do you like to hit up the sledding hills or build a magnificent snowman after the first big snow of the season? What about winter hikes or runs through the neighborhood? No matter how you like to spend your time outside, winter is full of opportunities. However, you… Continue Reading →
The annual WinterFest, returns in late January with some New Activities. Changes have been made to the Annual Winterfest due to restrictions in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. There are events available for everyone even though It will look and feel different than in the past. This Annual Event is hosted by… Continue Reading →
How to Keep Your Privacy and Finances Safe
As the new year begins, it’s an important time to think about simple changes we can make to ensure that this new year is better than the last. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central Indiana offers 10 New Year’s resolutions to help you avoid scams, prevent identity theft and be a smarter consumer in 2021. Continue Reading . . .