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Consumer resolutions for new year

1/3/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Summit County Office of Consumer Affairs offers some New Year’s resolutions that will help consumers throughout the year in avoiding identity theft and scams while creating sound financial habits:

• If you received any gift cards, certificates, social or group discount coupons over the holiday, set a date for dinner, movie or shopping with plans to use them. Check out expiration dates on the discount coupons.

• Shred documents that contain personal identifying information. Update firewalls and anti-virus software on your computer or, if none, install them.

• Smartphone users: Log out of apps (banking, social networking), clear your browser history, password protect your home screen, update operating software, and never share data over public Wi-Fi networks.

• Know what websites or apps your children visit, set restrictions on permitting downloads or purchases, and talk about safety online.

• Use a credit card when shopping by phone, TV or online, not a debit card, so you can dispute the charge if there are problems within 60 days from receipt of the bill.

• Do not respond to emails, text messages, mail or phone calls claiming you won a prize, gift card, lottery, grant or other surprise. It is a scam, and the scammers are relying on you to log in with your user name and password or click on the link provided in the unexpected email or text message. Con artists also are looking for you to give out over the telephone your name, address, account numbers or press the number to opt out from future calls. Why? To collect your information to sell or use it.

• Read monthly statements on accounts and bills to ensure all charges are yours and no hidden fees appear. Dispute any errors immediately.

• Get your free credit reports once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies at www.annu alcreditreport.com or by calling 877-332-8228.

• Commit to making a monthly budget, saving more, spending less and paying down debts.

• Before agreeing to services with a company, check out its complaint history. Also, do not forget to ask about refund policies, and make sure to read the contract before signing.

If something sounds or appears suspicious, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs at 330-643-2879, which can research it.

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