April Fool’s Day demands vigilance of scams

Better Business Bureau

Wednesday is April 2. No, not really. April Fool’s. April 1 is this Wednesday, and if you’re not careful, you could become a victim of a harmless joke or scam.

Your Better Business Bureau reminds you to beware of scammers so a simple joke doesn’t put you in the red.

According to Statistic Brain, 89 million Americans played an April Fool’s joke on someone in 2014. About four out of ten people say they’ll complete their April Fool’s joke online through Facebook. Whether you’re doing your joke online or in person, your BBB offers some tips to keep you safe:

• Don’t provide personal information, including bank account numbers, credit card information or Social Security numbers over the phone until you’ve verified the company is legitimate.

• Shred important documents. Make sure credit card offers and anything that has your personal information is shredded immediately.

• Use strong passwords, like a combination of numbers with upper and lower-case letters. If your computer is used by others, make sure each user has his or her own password. Change your password often and never share it.

• Update your computer’s anti-virus protection, install new software updates and keep your firewall up-to-date.

• Don’t give out clues you’ll be away from home. For instance, don’t announce to friends on social media that you’re going on vacation. It’s an open invitation to thieves.

• Watch out for deals that sound too good to be true. Legitimate businesses won’t give away products and services to undercut other companies’ prices.

• Beware of suspicious e-mails. When in doubt, delete.

• Beware of someone saying you won a free prize, but wants you to pay fees, etc. A legitimate company won’t ask you to pay for a prize. Never wire money to someone you don’t know.

• Consider logging off the Internet when you’re not using it. It may be convenient to stay connected, but it could be easy access to hackers. Also, turn off your computer or modem whenever you’re not online.

• Don’t take people at their word. Get everything in writing.

• Don’t let yourself be rushed, pressured or get emotional when making business decisions. Ask the person for his or her contact information and call back.

If you have any questions regarding scams, you can always get help from your BBB. Find professionals you can trust by checking out companies with your BBB. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

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John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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