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Chicago, IL – The New Year has arrived and it’s more important than ever to resolve to be a savvy consumer. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers ten New Year’s resolutions to fight scammers, prevent identity theft and save money in 2012.

 

“Being an informed consumer is ultimately about using money wisely and, in this tough economy, many families are quickly learning how important it is to squeeze as much value as possible out of a dollar,” says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Creating a budget, researching businesses before you buy and avoiding scams should be among everyone’s resolutions this year.”

 

The BBB recommends the following New Year’s resolutions to become a savvier consumer in 2012:

 

1. Look for the BBB Seal of Accreditation and always check a business out with BBB prior to making a purchase. Over 400,000 businesses bear the BBB Seal of Accreditation and meet our standards; you can find the Seal on Web sites and at business locations. The BBB doesn’t just report on Accredited businesses, you can locate trustworthy businesses by visiting www.bbb.org to view free BBB Business Reviews for over 4 million businesses across North America.

 

2. Read the fine print-especially for “free” trial offers. Many consumers complained to the BBB in 2011 after signing up for a “free” trial offer online that resulted in repeated charges to their credit or debit cards sometimes amounting to as much as hundreds of dollars every month. Read the terms and conditions of any “free” trial offer before handing over credit or debit card numbers.

 

3. Get everything in writing. Don’t just take a business’ word for it. Get every verbal agreement in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings between your expectations and what the business delivers.

 

4. Beware of “job” offers to make easy money. Unemployment in the nation remains high and scammers are targeting the large pool of job hunters. Beware of any job offer, work-at-home scheme or business opportunity that promises big money for little work and no experience. Look up companies at www.bbb.org before you apply for any job.

 

5. Keep your computer safe. If you haven’t already, install anti-virus software onto your computer and don’t forget to regularly check for software and operating system updates and patches. Don’t open attachments or click on links in e-mails unless you can confirm the e-mail came from someone you trust.

 

6. Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Many scams require that the victim wire money back to the scammers. Tracking money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union is extremely difficult. Even more troubling for victims is that it’s nearly impossible to get your money back.

 

7. Fight identity theft. Shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely. Your BBB offers tips and checklists on what to shred, and hosts free shred events at www.bbb.org

 

8. Fight fake check fraud. Thanks to advances in printing technology, scammers have the ability to create very real-looking phony checks. Educate yourself on the common types of check fraud and be extremely wary of checks that come with claims that you’ve won the lottery, are eligible for a government grant or have landed a job as a secret shopper when you never applied.

 

9. Ask the BBB for help. File a complaint with your BBB if you have a disagreement with a business or have been ripped off by a scammer. Your complaint will become go on record and may help others in dealing with that company.

 

10. Create a budget and stick to it. If you’re a cash-strapped consumer, setting a budget can help you stay afloat in 2012. The BBB has additional advice on how to create a budget to help you get out of debt and stay out of debt at www.bbb.org   

 

 

For more consumer tips you can trust from your BBB, visit www.bbb.org  

 

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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