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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of the Week: Five steps to avoiding scams in 2019

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

This New Year, you may resolve to eat healthier, get organized or find a new job. But add to your list of resolutions a promise to be savvier about scams. This year, follow our five resolutions and stay scam free.

Scammers are constantly devising new tricks and refining old ones. But no matter what cons emerge this year and beyond, keeping these tried and true resolutions will go a long way toward keeping you safe.

Keep your computer programs up to date. Those reminders to update your internet browser, operating system and other software are annoying, but don’t ignore them. Keeping your programs current is a great defense against malware. Software manufacturers continually update their programs to protect against the latest viruses.

Set tough passwords. To create strong passwords, combine lowercase and capital letters with a mix of numbers and symbols or even use a phrase. Go ahead and write your passwords down, but don’t store this cheat sheet on your computer.

Keep your smartphone safe. Take the same precautions on your mobile device as you do on your computer. Protect your phone with a passcode, keep your software up-to-date and watch out for malware disguised as apps.

Know the telltale signs. A little common sense goes a long way in spotting scams. Watch out for anything that’s too good (or sensational) to be true. This covers everything from “free” gift cards to instant job offers to scandalous celebrity videos. And be skeptical of any communications riddled with typos and poor grammar. If it looks like a scam, it probably is.

Don’t act immediately … research first. Most scams urge you to act now, before you’ve had a chance to consider your options. Always be sure to do your research. Depending on the occasion, this can be anything from getting three contractor quotes to performing a quick online search. Don’t be pressured into a commitment before doing your homework.

For more information

For more tips and advice for a scam-free year, check out Stopthinkconnect.org, a website created by the National Cyber Security Alliance and Anti-Phishing Working Group. Check out their tips for remaining scam free and protecting your mobile device.

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Tips and BBB Scamtracker at www.bbb.org

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