This week – March 2 through March 8 – marks National Consumer Protection Week: a nationwide campaign to encourage individuals to take full advantage of their consumer rights and to be better-informed. Today, Attorney General George Jepsen offered Connecticut consumer several tips to help protect their personal and financial information.
“National Consumer Protection Week is an ideal time for all of us to take a moment and evaluate the steps we’re each taking to help protect our personal information and avoid falling victim to scams,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and some simple precautions as well as exercising good judgment can make all the difference when going about a day-to-day routine.”
Attorney General Jepsen urges consumers to adopt the following practices in their everyday lives to avoid falling victim to one of the many scams targeting all ages and demographics:
• Shred, shred, shred – Papers with account numbers and other personal or financial information should always be shredded. Many municipalities periodically hold shredding events, which are often publicized through local media and are an effective way to safely dispose of unneeded documents.
• Find your nearest Post Office box – Be leery about putting mail that contains sensitive financial information in an outdoor mailbox. It’s better to go to the Post Office or use an official Post Office drop box to protect your outgoing mail.
• Protect your PINs and passwords – Guard your PINs and passwords from public view when using things like debit cards to make purchases or ATM withdrawals. If you use the Internet for banking, bill-paying or other monetary transactions, select secure, difficult-to-guess passwords and PINs, and get in the habit of changing them on a regular basis whenever possible.
• Leave it home – Never regularly carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it and other important documents and information in a secure place.
• Sorry, wrong number – Don’t give out personal information over the phone or in response to email or regular mail solicitations unless you’re absolutely sure the business is legitimate. If you know the business, make sure you’re on an official Web site or that you’re speaking with an official representative. When in doubt, hang up the phone, research the phone number to be sure it’s legitimate and then call back independently to verify the call.
• Watch out for traps – Government agencies never send emails or call people to threaten arrest, ask for money or request personal information. Law enforcement agencies frequently issue scam alerts when they receive reports of new or particularly misleading scams. Be vigilant and always remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.