#cyberfraud | #cybercriminals | Avoid the Scam: Make a resolution to be scam-free in 2020 | Local

We are into 2020 and 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.

Keeping your devices current with all their security programs is very important. Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific has tips and suggestions to start the New Year properly prepared.

  • 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 manufactures 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 right 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. Just don’t be pressured into a commitment before doing your homework.

Be smart when joining a gym

Are you still holding true to your New Year’s resolutions? Is one of them losing weight, or getting in shape? Don’t just sign up at the first gym you see. Before you sign on the dotted line, do your research!

To get the most from your gym membership, consider these tips from Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific:

Determine your fitness goals. Determining your goals in advance will help you select a facility that is most appropriate for you. It’s also a good idea to check with your physician before embarking on a new fitness regimen, especially if you have a medical condition.

Figure out your priorities. What is most important to you? Will a convenient location and extended hours help you stick to your fitness plan? Will a variety of equipment or classes keep you motivated? Do you want to work out while traveling and need a chain with numerous outlets? Determine your top priorities before shopping around.

  • Check for businesses you can trust at www.bbb.org. BBB has business profiles on more than 15,000 health clubs, fitness centers and gyms. Read what previous customers have to say and see how the businesses respond to complaints. This information will help narrow down the list of gyms you want to tour in person.
    • Take a tour. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes and trainers you need or expect. Pay attention to things that are important to you, whether it’s the cleanliness of the showers or the availability of Wi-Fi. Ask questions and make sure you understand all the rules. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require pre-registration, availability and cost of trainers, etc.
    • Ask about free trials. Gyms often give a one-week free pass for potential members; this is a great way to see if the gym is a good fit for you. Try the gym at different times to see how crowded it is and whether there is a wait for certain equipment. Check out classes if they are offered.
    • Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research, and make an informed decision.
    • Calculate the true costs. Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members, but the price could go up more than you budgeted once the initial period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include.
    • Understand the terms. Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing.

    Tyler Russell is the media and community contact person for the Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific’s Eastern Washington and North Idaho area. Email him at tyler.russell@thebbb.org.

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