Having grown up in a digital world, my generation considers itself to be tech savvy. We tend to know more about cell phones, tablets, apps, computers and just about anything digitally operated than our parent’s generation. So why then, is my generation amongst the most vulnerable when it comes to online scams?
The very fact that we have had mini screens in the palm of our hands since we were barely big enough to hold them, gives us a comfort that can be misplaced. When technology has been our constant companion, it is easy to feel comfortable and familiar, thus often developing a trust in the industry. We can easily forget that there is a person on the other end of our online experience. That person may not be telling the truth or representing an item in its true nature. Therefore, as online consumers, we must do our due diligence to protect ourselves as best as possible. When shopping for a new item online, I ask a few basic questions.
- What do others have to say about the business that is selling the product I want?
- Do the reviews look credible? Have the reviewers left other reviews for other businesses or items?
- Can the business’ information be verified, maybe through a source such as the BBB or if a service, the CCB? Is there a local phone number, address, photos – anything that points to an actual place of business operations?
- Is the spelling and grammar correct? Does it look like an educated or English speaking person wrote the info?
- Is it possible to chat online with a customer service rep? I want to see if someone can answer actual questions in real time.
The term “cyber-stalking” has a negative connotation, yet, by finding all I can online about a company, I am educating myself before purchasing. Many times, people on Facebook will ask their “friends” for referrals to businesses and services. This word of mouth, personal recommendation, is still probably the safest way to find a trustworthy business to use.
For us younger consumers, we don’t look in newspapers or print media much. For us, the BBB app is a wonderful tool that puts a world of information in our hands within minutes. Since the BBB has a long history of dealing with consumer complaints and rating businesses, it has earned a reputation for being trustworthy. More young people should add this app to their phones and count it amongst their tools when it comes to searching for new businesses or products to try. The BBB is here to help consumers and give support to small businesses, a win-win for those trying to make an honest living and spend wisely!