Financial information

BBB column: Five resolutions for a fraud-free new year | Business

Aside from the pandemic, the loss of money, personal information, and perseverance of scammers continues, with online shopping scams being the riskiest of scams.

“You can’t afford to make mistakes these days,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “Taking preventive measures before entering your payment information or opening your wallet is well worth the time and effort it takes to avoid becoming a victim.”

BBB recommends adding a few precautionary measures to the list of New Year’s resolutions, along with weight loss and financial goals, to help make the days and months ahead cheat-free.

I decide to be careful with emails. Beware of unsolicited emails from any person or company. Remember that scammers can make emails look like they come from a legitimate business, government agency, or reputable organization (even BBB). Never click on links or open attachments in unsolicited emails.

I resolve never to send money to strangers. If you haven’t met a person in person, don’t send them money. This is especially true if the person asks you to transfer funds using a prepaid debit card or CashApp. Money sent to strangers in this manner is untraceable and once sent cannot be retrieved. The scammers will try to trick you into panicking – so before you move, think about the situation. Do not fall into the trap !

I decide to do research before making online payments and purchases. When shopping online or if prompted to make an online payment, research the retailer before entering payment information. Ask: Is this a person or company that I know and trust? Do they have a working customer service number? Where is the company physically located? Would I make payments through a secure server (https://….com)? Have I checked to see if others have complained?

I agree to use my best judgment when sharing my personal information. Sharing sensitive personal information with scammers opens the door to identity theft. Never share financial information, date of birth, address, social security/social insurance number, or health insurance number with an unsolicited caller.

I decide to be smart on social media. Use privacy settings on social media and only connect with people you actually know. Be careful when including personal information in your profile and never reveal the address and other sensitive information, even in a “fun” quiz. Scammers can use this information to impersonate a friend or relative and gain your trust. Also, be careful when buying products you’ve seen on social media. BBB Scam Tracker has received thousands of complaints about misleading ads on Facebook and Instagram.

For more information

To learn more about scams, go to To learn more about how to avoid scams, visit If you have been targeted by this scam, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience at

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BBB is a business-supported non-profit organization that sets and maintains high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most of BBB’s consumer services are free. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB business profiles on over 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity ratings, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting market confidence . Visit for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.