Ditch the Pitch
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A new year means new beginnings and the opportunity to improve! The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) is encouraging South Carolina consumers to make a New Year’s resolution to become more conscious about personal information and finances. The following tips will help consumers be savvier in ‘19.
1. Keep private information private. Do not give personal information to cold callers (via phone, email or text) or anyone you do not know. Scammers often pose as legit businesses/agencies and can fake caller id. If someone asks for your information, end the contact and call a number you know belongs to the business.
2. Always ask before you tell. If a legitimate source like your doctor’s office or child’s school, asks for a social security number or other personal information, always ask why they need it and how they will protect it. If you’re not satisfied with the answers, don’t share the information and ask to use another identifier.
3. Beware what you share online. What you share online cannot be erased. Once it’s out there, your information can be used by scammers to steal your information/identity. Check your social media privacy settings and make sure your password security questions can’t be answered by simply looking at your posts.
4. Make a budget and pay yourself first. Write down recurring monthly expenses, like rent, insurance, food, gasoline and entertainment. Next, write down how much money you bring in monthly, including paychecks. If you are spending more than you earn, carefully review the budget to see what you could spend less on. Need help with your budget? Contact a licensed credit counseling agency. Remember: Always put money into your savings account before you make any other purchases.
5. Check your credit report. Catch mistakes affecting your credit score and help guard against identity theft by reviewing your credit report and disputing any errors. You can order one free credit report from each credit reporting agency annually at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228.
For more information on personal finance, including budgets, credit and debt, visit www.consumer.sc.gov and click Consumer Resources, or call (800) 922-1594.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 1 (800) 922-1594.