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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: New Year's Resolutions


Are you considering a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or save money for retirement? What about resolving to be a savvy consumer as well? Better Business Bureau suggests trying out new habits that can help you avoid scams and find trustworthy businesses that offer the services or products you need.

BBB Scam Tracker is a great place to start learning about scams that are popping up in your geographic area. Consumers also can report scams and tell BBB whether they’ve lost any money. BBB shares information with law enforcement agencies, who try to shut down the perpetrators.

Common red flags of scams are requests for money using wire transfers or prepaid cards before any service is provided. Often, online scammers use poor grammar and spelling. Phone scams may try to gain your confidence by implying they’re with a major company, your bank or credit card company.

Don’t take their word for it. Look up the customer service phone number on a bill or online and call the company to verify that the call is legitimate. IRS imposter scams steal millions of dollars every year, according to the IRS, and the scams often rank near the top of BBB’s list of scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker. Consumers report receiving calls from people claiming to be from the IRS, who threaten them with arrests or lawsuits if they don’t pay taxes or fees the callers say are owed. BBB advises consumers to hang up on these calls and report the phone number on BBB Scam Tracker.

Beyond avoiding scams, good habits include researching businesses before you buy. You might start by asking friends for recommendations, but don’t stop there. Look for a BBB Business Profile, which will give you information such as how long a company has been in business, how to contact the business and how the business has responded to any complaints.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO, and is responsible for outreach efforts in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations. Quick enjoys helping educate consumers in the southeast Missouri region by sharing consumer tips with groups and educating them about BBB’s resources.