A knowledgeable consumer is not only the best defense from fraud and deception but the best way to save money and ensure satisfaction with the products you buy and services you use.

One of the best ways to save money is to ensure you don’t become a fraud victim. Doing any business in our society is fraught with potential risks. Knowledge is the best defense from fraud, deception and buyer’s remorse. When dealing with another business entity, service provider or your money; information must be verified.

It is critically important to be certain that any business and/or individual you are dealing with is reputable, licensed, insured, knowledgeable, and that their image is not marred by liens, judgments, bankruptcy or civil action, either against the entity or its principals.

Use the ClickFirst consumer checklist as a guide to help you develop sound, fundamental habits. Check the many links to government information concerning consumer fraud and purchasing tips and strive to purchase products and services from people you feel comfortable with and have verified information about.

1. Clearly identify your objectives

If you don’t know exactly what you wish to accomplish it makes it harder to satisfy yourself.

2. Use common sense

If it doesn’t feel right – it isn’t. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.

3. Take your time

Never allow yourself to be pressured into making a purchase or investment.

4. Seek referrals

Connect with people you trust. Get referrals and by products and services from people you know or from people that are referred to you by people you know and trust.

5. Get recommendations

Contact people you know who own the product have used the service or made similar investments. Find out if the product, service or investment is doing what they thought it would do. Are they satisfied? Read online reviews.

6. Seek assistance

Never be afraid to seek advice. There are numerous avenues to find help making important decisions. Money spent seeking advice before you purchase or invest may prove to be the best money you ever spend. Knowledge is power, acquire it.

7. Compare pricing

Never purchase products or services without some comparative price checking.

8. Check for coupons and deals

The Internet has changed the way businesses operate. Often special deals can be found online.

9. Check Consumer tips and tricks

The US government has thousands of web pages dedicated to helping consumers avoid scams and make informed decisions.

10. Verify business information

Verifying information will help you establish how long a business has been in existence and form a basis from which to conduct additional research.

11. Verify licensing

Check required licenses of any person or business selling products or services.

12. Check for known complaints

Official consumer complaints filed against a person or business are sometimes hard to find. Start with the Better Business Bureau, then check online using a general search. Just like positive online reviews, online complaints about a person or business posted by individuals should never be the only resource used to make purchasing or investment decisions

13. Contact Personal References

Nothing beats experience. If you don’t have any experience dealing with the person or business contact their references. Ask questions until you are satisfied. Some samples: How long have you know the subject? What is your relationship? Have you purchased or used the product or service being provided by the person or business you are giving a reference for?

14. Hire a professional

If you are making a large purchase or investment with someone you personally don’t know very well. Hire a professional to do a background check and assist you with your due diligence.

Author: Jim Merrick