New Year’s resolutions for every consumer

VICTORIA, Texas–The new year is here, which means people are setting goals and making resolutions. Exercising and eating healthy are common resolutions–but what shape are your finances and personal information in?

In addition to eating clean and cleaning out your closet, Better Business Bureau advises consumers to consider other resolutions, such as keeping a clean computer, checking your credit report and safeguarding against identity theft and scams.

Your BBB offers the following tips for protecting your personal and financial information:

Research, research, research. Whether you’re making an online purchase, looking for a vacation rental or choosing a contractor, it’s important to carefully research all of your options. Ask people you trust for recommendations, shop on secure and legitimate websites and look out for red flags to avoid getting scammed out of your money. Remember, keep receipts and get everything in writing when working with a business. Go to bbb.org to view a business’s BBB Business Profile which includes its rating, customer reviews and complaint history. Protect your identity–and your wallet. Always shred sensitive documents that include personal financial information such as your bank account number, credit card and Social Security number. Monitor your financial accounts regularly to quickly detect suspicious activity. Be especially careful when disclosing personal information over the Internet, don’t overshare and never send sensitive information through emails or text messages. Create a budget. Setting a budget that works for you can help ease any financial stress and worry in the upcoming year. While you’re shopping, keep track of the cost and avoid impulse purchases to prevent over-spending. Also, know who or what you are shopping for and how much you are willing to spend. Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Scammers know it’s extremely difficult to track money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union, so never wire money to someone you don’t know. More troubling for victims is the fact that it’s nearly impossible to get your money back once it’s been sent via wire. Even if you’ve been given a check to cover the amount you’re wiring, never send money to someone you don’t know personally. The check could be fraudulent, leaving you liable for the money. Check your credit report. An annual review of your credit report is important to verify all outstanding debts and helpful in maintaining a strong protection against identity theft. For a free copy of your credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. Only AnnualCreditReport.com is authorized to give you the free annual credit reports you’re entitled to by law.

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