Hillsborough County government officials have put together a list of 22 New Year's resolutions aimed to protect consumers from such things as identity theft, telemarketing scams, too much debt and shady businesses.
______________Consumer Tips For New Year's Resolutions I will file my tax return as early as possible to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of tax filing and tax refund fraud. I will not provide my social security number, financial information nor personal information unless I am 100 percent certain of who I am giving it to and why, nor carry my social security card with me unless I intend to use it. I will make a permanent and healthy lifestyle change rather than committing to long term fitness club contracts or purchasing quick fix “miracle” weight loss products that could be dangerous to my health. I will order FREE copies of my credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-332-8228 to review them for accuracy and errors, and consider freezing my credit file, which is FREE to Florida seniors age 65 and older, and to victims of identity theft. I will thoroughly research a business to ensure it is properly registered or licensed by the state or local government, and check out its complaint history before entering into a contract and issuing payment. I will read and understand any contract that I sign, and receive a complete signed copy. I will commit to a monthly budget, save more, spend less, and pay down my debts. I will shred documents that contain my personal identifying information. I will always assume that an unsolicited email or text message is a possible scam, and never click the link or links attached. I will safeguard my personal and financial information, and regularly check my bank account and credit card statements for any bogus activity. I will check my medical, insurance and financial records for discrepancies and possible fraud, and keep a medical journal or detailed record of all medical services received. I will not jump into an online dating site without learning about the privacy policies, cancellation clauses and refund policies; nor will I fall for false claims of love and companionship when tied to requests for money. I will screen my incoming phone calls to avoid telemarketing scams that may try to obtain money and/or my personal information. I will consider registering with the federal and state Do Not Call lists. I will protect my computer with firewalls, up-to-date security, and anti-virus software. I will protect my Smartphone by logging out of apps, clear my browser history, password protect my home screen and update the operating software. I will NEVER share personal or financial information over public Wi-Fi networks. I will use a credit card when shopping by phone, television or online, and dispute the charge within 60 days from the receipt of the bill if I’m unsatisfied with a product or services. I will resist using a debit card for online transactions. I will be wary of fake checks linked to winning prizes or lotteries; work-at-home opportunities or employment; or alleged overpayment for something I may be selling, and will NEVER wire money back to someone who sent me a check. I will educate my kids about online safety, set restrictions and guidelines regarding sites they visit, and monitor their online activity. I will visit www.onguardonline.gov for helpful resources and tips for myself and my kids about identity theft and online safety. Source: Hillsborough County Government