The N.C. Department of Justice issued the following top-ten consumer tips for avoiding scams:
1. Say no to high-pressure sales pitches. If the offer is only good today, walk away.
2. Always read contracts carefully before you sign them, and make sure all written documents match what you’ve been promised. Never sign a document that you don’t understand or that has blanks to be filled in later.
3. Be cautious when responding to telemarketers, door-to-door sellers, and email or text pitches. Instead of responding to unsolicited offers, decide when and where you want to go shopping.
4. You never have to make a purchase or pay taxes, fees or other expenses in advance to win a prize. Anyone who demands an upfront fee for a prize is trying to scam you.
5. Never give out your Social Security Number, credit card or bank account number or other personal information to anyone you don’t know who contacts you.
6. Be skeptical of upfront fees. North Carolina law makes it illegal to collect advance fees for some types of work, such as foreclosure assistance and debt settlement help. If an advance payment is required for other kinds of transactions, use a credit card when possible. This gives you some protection if your order doesn’t arrive or the work isn’t completed.
7. Do business with companies you know or that come recommended by those you trust. Check out companies with the Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or your local Better Business Bureau before making major purchases.
8. Join the Do Not Call registry to cut down on unwanted telemarketing calls. To sign up, call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register or visit www.donotcall.gov. Once you’re on the list, report Do No Call violators to the Attorney General’s Office.
9. Check your credit report regularly. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each nationwide credit bureau. To access your free credit reports, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
10. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.