Tips for wise shopping Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Thanksgiving is almost here and Black Friday shoppers are preparing. Some may even get a jump start with various retailers opening their doors Thursday evening. With U.S. holiday shopping expected to be moderately better this year, price competition is expected to remain fierce.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin is offering tips to people planning on taking advantage of Black Friday - traditionally the day after Thanksgiving – sales offers.

“Some people are so eager to get big ticket items, they plan their Thanksgiving around Black Friday sales”, says Ran Hoth, President and CEO. “The crowds this year will be no different. Ease your shopping day by making a game plan, sticking to your budget, and understanding each stores return policy.”

Black Friday shoppers should keep these tips in mind:

  • Compare deals. Do you know if a sale is really a sale? It always pays to comparison shop. Take the time to check prices on the same items at various stores.
  • Create a budget and stick to it. Make a list, determine how much you can afford to spend on each person, and…stick to it!
  • Search for Black Friday ads ahead of time. Newspapers often have coupons that give discounts for Black Friday. Black Friday ads may also be posted on the Internet. Some sites post ads for Black Friday before they’re published.
  • Maximize advance alerts. Do you have favorite retailers? Sign up for their email alerts and take advantage of special social network opportunities. Many stores work to reward your loyalty and you may get a jump on special offers.
  • Return policies, restocking fees and refunds. Ask for the store’s return policy before you make your purchase. Also, ask about restocking fees, and save your receipts in one place so you don’t lose them. Many stores will require you to produce a receipt for a return.
  • Be sure to ask for gift receipts. Without proof of purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging an item or risk receiving a refund at a lower price.
  • Gift cards. Gift cards regularly top consumers’ wish lists. When buying gift cards in a store, check the packaging and any security seals to be sure they are intact and haven’t been tampered with. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of each card.
  • Check out the company. Visit BBB.ORG before doing business for FREE Business Reviews on local and national companies. When shopping, look for the BBB Seal.

For an online version of the story click here

Nominate a deserving Wisconsin business or non-profit for the BBB Torch Awards for Ethics.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on TwitterFacebook and You Tube.

After Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, savvy shoppers go online to take advantage of Cyber Monday specials. Cyber Monday, which takes place the Monday after Black Friday, has grown increasingly popular among consumers in recent years, as they look for clearance sales some retailers offer online. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers their top ten tips for people doing their shopping online, be it on December 1 – Cyber Monday – or throughout the holiday season:

 

1. Protect your computer – Your computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

 

2. Stick to trustworthy websites – Research the seller’s reputation and track record for customer satisfaction at bbb.org. Look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized “trust marks” on retailer websites. Always remember to click on the seals to confirm that they are valid and check out customer reviews online, including those offered by Better Business Bureau.

 

3. Protect your personal information – Take the time to read the privacy policy of websites you visit and understand what personal information is being collected and how it will be used. If you don’t see a privacy policy posted, be aware your information may be sold to others without your permission.

 

4. Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers found on less-traveled websites and in unsolicited emails sometimes advertise suspiciously low prices. When visiting a website, look for misspellings and grammatical errors, as these are signs the site might be fraudulent. Trust your instincts and be leery of unsolicited emails, as they may contain viruses or malware. Don’t be afraid to pass up “deals” that might wind up costing you money instead of saving you money.

 

5. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order or a past transaction to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an email, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the retailer you dealt with or your credit card provider to get to the bottom of the matter. Stay calm, don’t panic and always be protective of your personal and financial information.

 

6. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying.

 

7. Pay with a credit card – It’s often best to use a credit card, because under federal law, the shopper can dispute the charge if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card or merchandise they receive is damaged or defective.

 

8. Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there should be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by email. Save a copy of that as well as any emails for future reference and as a record of your purchase.

9. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; the BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by checking statements online regularly or by calling their credit card companies if fraud is suspected.

 

10. Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2013, people turned to BBB more than 132 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org/wisconsin. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 112 local, independent BBBs across North America, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Wisconsin was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.

BBB Offers Tips to Black Friday Shoppers

The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner, and some retailers have already announced at least some of their Black Friday deals. Though more and more stores are opening their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday – will remain one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is offering advice for people making plans to capitalize on Black Friday savings offers.

 

“Though the impact of Black Friday shopping might be at least somewhat diluted with some stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, we still believe it will be a day where many folks will focus their holiday shopping – and bargain-hunting – efforts,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

 

The National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday sales will increase by more than 4% this year. As always, retailers will compete feverishly to get shoppers to visit their stores – and their websites! Whether you’ll be doing your holiday shopping on Black Friday or beyond, be sure to keep these BBB tips in mind to help ensure a satisfactory experience:

 

· Research the company. Visit bbb.org or call 800-646-6222 to obtain free Business Reviews. Remember, BBB Business Reviews have been optimized for smartphones.

 

· Getting the real deal. Do you know if a sale is really a sale? Many times companies boast “70 percent off,” but 70 percent off what? It always pays to comparison shop. If a company is advertising a “Going out of Business” sale, don’t automatically assume they are offering the best prices in town. Take the time to check prices on the same items at other stores.

 

· Search for Black Friday Ads Ahead of Time. Some retailers have ‘gone for it,’ announcing their Black Friday specials well in advance of Friday, November 28. Newspapers often have coupons that outline store discounts for Black Friday, and some specials are posted on the Internet. By keeping your eyes open and nose to the ground, you can sniff out deals others might miss.

· Return policies, restocking fees and refunds. Ask for the store’s return policy before you make your purchase. Companies are not required to give you your money back, but they need to post their return policy prominently near the cashier. Also, always ask about restocking fees, and save your receipts in one place so you don’t lose them. Many companies will require you to produce a receipt for a return. Ask for a gift receipt.

 

· Watch out for deals too good to be true. While many retailers offer ‘doorbusters’ – specials that are eye-opening – some websites offer suspiciously low prices on sought-after goods in an effort to entice shoppers into turning over their credit card information. Stick to trustworthy websites and look for the BBB seal and other recognized “trust marks.” Be sure to click on the seals to confirm they are valid.

 

· Gift cards. Gift cards regularly top consumers’ wish lists. Federal rules govern gift card sales, and those rules state:

 

o An inactivity fee cannot be charged until the card has not been used for 12 months.

o Gift cards cannot expire for at least 5 years.

o No more than one fee (of any kind) can be charged to the cardholder in a single month.

o Information printed on the card must disclose fees and expiration date and provide a toll-free phone number or website where you can get more information.

o A one-time fee can be charged when you buy the card, though this generally only applies to gift cards purchased through your credit card company – not those purchased directly from stores and restaurants.

o If you receive a gift card, you should redeem it promptly if, possible.

 

Finally, consumers should keep in mind there will be many more opportunities for savings as we go through the long holiday season.

 

Call from ‘Steve Martin’ not funny

The Consumer Information Hotline at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has received a number of inquiries about a government imposter phone scam. Wisconsin residents statewide are receiving prerecorded calls from “Steve Martin” with the “U.S. Treasury.” If you receive a similar call, hang up immediately and do not call back the number noted in the message.
Unfortunately, this type of government imposter scam is quite common. Scammers will call consumers out of the blue claiming that they are with the IRS, law enforcement or another government agency. The caller will threaten the consumer with arrest or financial penalties for supposedly failing to pay back taxes or unpaid loans, for failing to report for jury duty or for “check fraud.”
If you receive a similar call:
? Hang up and do not return the call. Federal government agencies don’t ask people to send money for unpaid loans.
? Remember that scammers can make your caller ID say whatever they choose. Do not trust that the information on your call ID display is legitimate.
? Never give out personal or banking information on an unsolicited call.
? There’s no legitimate reason for someone to ask you to wire money or load a rechargeable money card as a way to pay back a debt.
? If you still feel unsure about the call, look up the official number of the agency the caller is pretending to represent so you can get the real story.
For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

New products in classic schemes identified as top investor threats

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today identified emerging threats facing investors in 2015, including schemes involving marijuana-related businesses, digital currencies, stream-of-income investments, and binary options.

 

“Many of the top threats facing investors involve new products in classic schemes,” said Patricia Struck, Administrator of DFI’s Division of Securities. “We are seeing threats to investors morph into new risks, many fueled by the Internet. Overarching all of these threats are unlicensed agents selling unregistered products to unsuspecting investors.”

 

The following list of top emerging threats facing unwary investors was compiled by the Enforcement Section of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which DFI is a member:

 

  • ·         Marijuana industry investments. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and recreational use is legal in four states and the District of Columbia. Many promoters have seized upon this to market and sell investments in the marijuana industry, including investments in companies that provide products and services to the marijuana industry such as vaporizers, hydroponic supplies, lighting systems, and security systems. Many of these companies are micro-cap companies selling low-priced securities which typically are highly speculative and carry a high degree of risk for investors.
  • ·         Digital currency and cyber security risks. Digital currencies are emerging as a trendy way to pay for goods and services. Bitcoin, perhaps the most popular digital currency, was priced at around $10 per unit in early 2013 but peaked at around $1,200 per unit later that year. The rapid price increase sparked considerable public interest and media attention, creating a fresh market for securities offerings tied to digital currencies. Unfortunately,unscrupulous promoters may be attempting to capitalize on this popularity by illegally offering securities tied to digital currencies.
  • ·         Stream-of-income investments. Investors looking for monthly returns are being enticed to invest by companies that introduce investors to individuals selling a stream of income, such as pension payments or government disability payments. These investments can carry significant risks as laws may prohibit the assignment of the stream of income/benefits, the seller typically maintains the legal right to redirect the payment, and if the seller does redirect the payment, the investor may be left with an unenforceable contract right.
  • ·         Binary options, which are securities in the form of options contracts that have a payout that depends on whether the underlying asset increases or decreases in value. Of particular risk is that an option is an all-or-nothing payout structure and investors can easily lose their entire investment.

Struck and NASAA encouraged investors also to be wary of a number of persistent threats that pose risks:

  • ·         Pyramid and other Ponzi schemes.
  • ·         Real estate schemes, including those using promissory notes.
  • ·         Affinity fraud.
  • ·         Internet fraud, including social media.
  • ·         Oil and gas investments, especially those related to fracking.
  • ·         Reg D/Rule 506 private offerings.

 

Unregistered individuals continue to be the most common subject of enforcement actions by state securities regulators. “Investors should independently verify any investment opportunity as well as the background of the person and company offering the investment,” Struck said.

 

Consumers who have questions about potential investor threats may contact DFI by calling 608-266-1603.

Do your research to avoid layaway surprises

Many stores offer a layaway option to consumers who wish to lock down the holiday season’s hot items without having to pull out a credit card or pay full price upfront. Layaway policies vary widely, so the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) advises shoppers to ask questions and fully research a store’s policies in order to avoid any potential surprises. “Many retailers offer an online layaway option, which may have different terms than in-store layaways,” said Sandy Chalmers, Administrator of Trade and Consumer Protection. “Make sure you understand the terms and refund policies before you put money down.” For example, physical stores may require you to make incremental payments within certain monthly timeframes, but the online layaway terms may require scheduled withdrawals from your checking account or through a third-party payment service. Read the fine print on the website closely and call the company’s customer service line if you have any questions before you make a down payment. DATCP offers the following tips to help research a layaway program: Layaway terms: ? Find out how much time you have to make all of the required payments, when the ? Ask about service fees. ? Ask what happens to the contract if you are late or miss a payment. Are there payments are due and the minimum payment required. penalty fees? Will your contract be cancelled? Will the merchandise be returned to inventory? Refund policies: ? If you decide you don’t want the merchandise after you’ve made some or all the ? Retailers’ policies may differ: some give you all your money back; others may payments, can you get a refund? Ask upfront. charge a non-refundable service fee; others may offer a merchant credit for the amount you paid. Get the merchant’s layaway policy in writing and keep receipts of the payments you make on the merchandise. These documents may come in handy if you have a problem with the seller. For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, call the Consumer Information Hotline at 800-422-7128 or send an e- mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov. Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer. ###

Free Pizza with a Side of Malware

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection asks Wisconsin residents to be on the lookout for emails fraudulently advertising free Pizza Hut pizzas. There is no such promotion and clicking a link in the email may cause you to inadvertently download malicious software (malware).

The spam emails claim that Pizza Hut is offering free personal pizzas to celebrate its 55th anniversary. The email has a “Get Free Pizza Coupon” button – do not click this link! Delete the email without replying or clicking any links in the message.

Scammers often create fake emails that use a company’s logo and color scheme. In the case of the fake Pizza Hut email, there are clues the email is a scam:

  • the email might have gone to your junk folder
  • the sender’s email address is not a Pizza Hut email address
  • when you hover over the coupon link, it does not show pizzahut.com
  • there are no mentions of a free pizza promotion on the official Pizza Hut website
  • if you do a search on Pizza Hut’s 55th anniversary, you will find news articles that the company did offer discounted pizza — but that promotion was last year
  • ask yourself if you signed up to get email discounts from this company. If not, it is unlikely that the company would send you a real discount out of the blue.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at http://datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

State agency cautions investors to beware of Ebola-related scams

MADISON – Following the outbreak of Ebola in western Africa and its appearance in North America, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today cautioned investors to beware of opportunistic Internet-based investment schemes related to the disease.

 

“Past experience tells us that during periods of uncertainty or fear, con artists often times will attempt to make a quick score at the expense of investors,” said Patricia Struck, Administrator of DFI’s Division of Securities. “Investors should be very wary of any unsolicited Ebola-related investment opportunities, especially those received via the Internet.”

 

Struck said an analysis of Internet domain names by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which DFI is a member, found nearly 1,200 domains with “Ebola” in their name have been registered with top-level domains, such as .com, .net, .org since April. About 1,000 of those registrations have occurred since July, as awareness of the crisis spread. Of these sites, 184 were identified by NASAA’s Internet Fraud Investigations project group as suspicious.

 

Most of the domain names are “parked” and have no content, indicating that either someone has purchased the domain hoping to resell it, or the content is not ready yet, Struck said.

 

She reminded investors to use common sense when considering an investment opportunity.

 

“Promises of quick wealth generally are red flags signaling fraud ahead,” Struck said. She encouraged individuals to contact the Division of Securities to determine if both the promoter of the investment and the investment itself are licensed and registered. The Division of Securities can be reached by e-mail at DFIDLSecuritiesEnforcement@wisconsin.gov  or by calling 608-266-1603.

Halloween costumes can scare up trouble for your pet

Whether fashionable or frightening, there are thousands of costumes for your furry dog or feline friend, but animal officials warn that pet costumes may scare up more problems than you anticipated.
“Some pets have temperaments that will tolerate our desire to dress them up in costumes, but many prefer their birthday suits,” says Dr. Yvonne Bellay, Animal Welfare Program Manager for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection. “Putting them in costumes can cause undue stress for the animal, not to mention dangers that you may not immediately think of like allergies or choking.”
Before making the decision to dress up your pet for Halloween, consider some of these important points:
? Make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not restrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. If a pet costume comes with a mask, don’t use it. While some dogs will love dressing up, they usually aren’t too keen on masks. If you absolutely must use a mask on your pet, make sure that the eyeholes have plenty of room to see and that there is nothing covering the nose or confining the mouth.
? Try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.
? Take a close look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
Aside from the costume dangers, Halloween presents a number of other potential hazards for your animal. Try to avoid some of these scary possibilities:
? As much as your pet begs for some of your candy, don’t give in or leave the candy where the animal can easily access it. Chocolate, perhaps the most traditional of the snacks doled out on Halloween, is toxic to pets and can cause seizures and increased heart rate.
? Candy wrappers, such as tin foil, can get stuck in your pet’s digestive tract and make them ill or cause death.
? Don’t leave lit candles or Jack-O-Lanterns where they can be knocked over by a swinging tail or by a curious cat. Not only could your pet start a fire but they could severely burn themselves in the process.
? Being around a bunch of people that the animal does not know can be very stressful, so if you are having an indoor party or will be opening the door frequently to hand out candy, make sure that you put your dog or cat in a room where they won’t be disturbed. Even if your pet is ultra-friendly and doesn’t mind loud noises, music and lots of people you should keep them separate for the night.
? Be careful your cat or dog doesn’t dart out through an open door as you hand out candy. Your best bet is to just put them in a room with some food and water for the night and check on them once in a while to let them know everything is fine.
Connect with us on Twitter at twitter.com/widatcp or Facebook at facebook.com/widatcp.

Make Your Halloween Costume Experience Delightful – Not Frightful

BBB Tips on Buying or Renting a Costume

Burnsville, Minn – October 16 – If you’re looking to buy or rent a fun or frightful Halloween costume this season, you’re not alone. The National Retail Federation expects a record number of consumers will buy costumes this year, spending roughly $7.4 billion on candy, pumpkins, decorations and costumes. It’s a holiday many love, and retailers respond to that with specialty “boo”-tiques which set up shop in October and are gone by the time the calendar flips over into November. When shopping for a costume this year, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) advises that you read the fine print to ensure your night is a treat.

 

“Halloween offers something for almost everyone, even if you just like candy,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “But for those buying or renting costumes, it’s important to be clear on all of the terms and conditions.”

 

Here are some BBB tips to make sure you won’t be haunted by impulse purchases this Halloween:

 

Look for a brick and mortar store. Though not extremely commonplace, some costume shops are open year-round. For more elaborate costumes or simply for peace of mind, you may want to consider transacting with a shop that has a permanent address. Even so, you’ll still want to be clear on their rental and return policies.

 

Do your research. Many seasonal stores are run by reputable retailers who take advantage of short-term leases on vacant space to set up temporary stores. However, other shops may be “here today and gone tomorrow.” While it’s always a good idea to research BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org, it may also beneficial to read customer reviews to learn more about costume stores in your area.

 

Read the fine print. Even seasonal stores have the same responsibilities as a year-round operation. Make sure to note the store’s refund and return policies; familiarize yourself with all of the terms and conditions – they have to be made available. Keep in mind that some stores may not accept returns on Halloween costumes you’ve purchased.

 

Know what to expect before renting a costume. Many rental costumes tend to be sturdier than the average Halloween costume, but make sure you understand your responsibilities. What happens, for example, if the costume rips, or you get a stain on it or lose it altogether? Do you have to pay a penalty in addition to the price of the costume? Be sure everything is spelled out clearly in the rental agreement.

 

If you’re renting, return your costume on time. Most stores rent costumes on a daily/nightly basis, meaning you pick up your costume the day of your event and return it the following day. Failure to do so may mean you’ll be charged with additional fees.

 

When purchasing costumes online, do it securely. Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https.” You also may see a small picture of a closed lock in the lower right corner of the screen.

 

For more helpful consumer tips, visit bbb.org.

BBB Offers Wi-Fi Safety Tips

When you’re at your favorite coffee shop waiting for your drink to cool, the first thing you might do is open up your laptop and search for a Wi-Fi connection. Though it is a convenience, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) seeks to remind the public about the potential dangers of using public Wi-Fi networks.

 

Many businesses, particularly coffee shops, campus hangouts and even some retailers, have found that offering their patrons free Wi-Fi brings in more business and keeps customers coming back. However, it’s important for consumers to keep in mind that hackers sometimes target public Wi-Fi users to steal their personal information.

 

To avoid being hacked while using a public Wi-Fi connection, BBB recommends the following tips:

 

  • ·         Verify the network before use. To verify a Wi-Fi network, simply ask an employee at the coffee shop what network they provide for customers. Also, is it password-protected?
  • ·         Use common sense when you connect. If you’re signed in through an unsecured or unprotected network, be cautious about the sites you visit and the information you share.
  • ·         Invest in your own personal hotspot

o   If you have a smartphone, you may also have a hotspot: a device that offers Internet access over a wireless local area network. All you have to do is contact your provider and set up a plan. Keep in mind, though, that while your own personal hotspot is convenient, it’s important to properly set up your security settings.

  • ·         Cover up your keyboard when typing in usernames or passwords, as some hackers obtain information simply by glancing over your shoulder.
  • ·         If you find a USB thumb drive on a coffee table, don’t use it. Some hackers leave USB thumb drives out in the open because they want you to use them. Once a compromised thumb drive is in your laptop, your personal information can be accessed.
  • ·         Keep in mind that a computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

In addition to the coffee shop crowd, hackers also target business travelers that spend much of their time in airports and hotels. Such travelers are often busy answering emails, returning phone calls and planning for their next meeting. When arriving at their hotel after a long day, they might check their email one last time before getting some rest. At such a time, though it may be tempting to simply shut the laptop and nod off, keep in mind that just because a computer is ‘closed,’ that doesn’t mean your information is safe. Always be sure to log out of your online accounts and close out all programs when you’re done using your laptop.

 

Business travelers and all public Wi-Fi users should also consider the following tips when accessing the Internet on the go:

 

  • ·         Watch out for fake networks

o   In order to avoid fake networks, ask an employee at the airport or hotel to verify the Wi-Fi network they provide for customers.

  • ·         Avoid certain websites, such as social networking or shopping sites, or any website that requires you to use a debit or credit card.
  • ·         Keep in mind that banking online via a public Wi-Fi connection carries inherent risks. If you must access your bank information online and in a public place, be sure to check your statement frequently to verify that your account hasn’t been compromised.

o   Change your Wi-Fi settings so your computer doesn’t automatically connect to networks. Keep Wi-Fi off when you’re not using it.

  • ·         Change your usernames and passwords as frequently as possible.

o   Make your passwords complex so hackers can’t easily break into your computer.

Despite the dangers that hackers pose, you can certainly do things to reduce your risk of problems when taking advantage of a public Wi-Fi connection.

 

For the latest fraud alerts, marketplace news and free BBB Business Reviews, visit bbb.org.