Today marks the official launch of National Consumer Protection Week. Running from March 4-10, it is a coordinated campaign aimed at protecting consumers from a slew of dangers they face.
Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific is proud to once again be involved in this robust effort. We know first-hand how important this work is. Since BBB launched the BBB Scam Tracker, an online tool designed to collect scam data, in 2015 we’ve received more than 100,000 reports from victims across North America and more than 1,200 in Oregon alone. We know the fraudsters behind these attacks won’t stop, so we urge you to remain vigilant.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of information available to help protect yourself. The tips we’ve compiled below will serve as a great start, but don’t stop there. The Federal Trade Commission and Oregon Department of Justice Consumer Protection division are excellent resources as well. We urge you to become as knowledgeable as you can on the subject.
As a part of NCPW, BBB offers the following advice to make well-informed consumer decisions:
Always do your research. Before purchasing something or donating money, thoroughly research the business or organization. Start at bbb.org.
Get everything in writing. Always get verbal promises in writing and read the fine print. This way consumers can fully understand their rights and what they’re agreeing to.
Monitor your financial accounts. This way, you can quickly detect suspicious activity and protect yourself from identity theft.
Be wary of wiring money. Many scams require that the victim wire money via MoneyGram, Western Union or Green Dot MoneyPak because they know that once the payment is made, it is extremely difficult to get it back.
Know where to complain. If you’ve been a victim of a scam or treated unfairly by a business, there are many organizations and government agencies you can turn to for help. You can file a complaint with BBB at bbb.org, the Federal Trade Commission and your local Attorney General’s office.
To get involved in National Consumer Protection Week, consumers are encouraged to share these BBB tips and other articles on social media by using the hashtag #NCPW2018. Other resources can be found at ncpw.gov or bbb.org/cpweek.
Stephen Mayer is marketplace manager of the Better Business Bureau, serving the Snake River Region from Ontario to Jackson, Wyoming. For more information, visit bbb.org or call (800) 218-1001.