4 top tips for Consumer Protection Week
Events this week will teach people how to protect their finances from identity thieves and other scammers. Here are the basics.
This post comes from Matt Brownell at partner site MainStreet.
Sunday kicked off the 14th annual National Consumer Protection Week, in which various advocacy and governmental groups hold workshops and other programs intended to teach consumers how to protect their finances. We'd encourage you to check out such events through your state attorney general's office. In Massachusetts, for instance, the attorney general’s office is holding presentations and workshops all week.
Don't have time for all that? That's OK. You can still learn how to protect yourself as a consumer in various aspects of your life by following a few basic tips. We rounded up the four most basic and necessary essentials you should take away from this week of advocacy.
1. Change your passwords and be suspicious of emails. These two simple rules will protect you from most basic scams on the Internet. It's generally viewed as best practice to use a different password for every account so someone who gets your password on one account can't turn around and try it on popular services such as Facebook and Google. If remembering a million different passwords sounds daunting, we recommend using a password-management system. (Post continues below.)
And to protect yourself from phishing scams that seek your personal information, treat any unsolicited email with a high degree of suspicion and double-check the Web address of any site that asks for such information.
2. Buy (and use) a shredder. The nonprofit advocacy group Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has a fun quiz on its website that helps you assess how well you're doing at protecting yourself from identity theft. And if you don't own a shredder, you're going to fail at least a few of the questions. Scammers who get hold of bank statements and even credit card offers can do a lot of financial damage, and even innocuous-seeming data can provide an entry point for an identity thief. Here's a listing of all the documents you need to be shredding.
3. Pay with a credit card. If things go south on a transaction and there's a dispute with the merchant, you want to have a credit card charge-back as a last resort. Plus, most credit cards provide some kind of purchase protection that in many cases is as good as a warranty.
4. Read the fine print on card agreements. You should read the fine print on everything you sign up for, and this is especially important when it comes to credit cards. It's not just about the interest rate; you also want to look out for such terms as the annual fee and blackout dates on rewards. For information, check out our guide to reading a credit card agreement.
More on MainStreet and MSN Money:
- 7 top scams and how to avoid them
- The safest ways to pay online
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
If you're thinking about buying a car and the Carfax report comes back clean, you're good to go, right? Um, maybe not. Here are four other ways you can avoid buying a clunker.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'