Business

Ten tasks that are worth the effort in 2014

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The new year is a perfect time for consumers to work on their life. Better Business Bureau serving Mainland British Columbia is offering 10 strategies that are worth the effort in 2014.

1. Buying online. Check the seller history on sites like eBay.com, and know that you do not have any rights if the product is faulty or not exactly what you thought. Never wire money to a stranger, and be cautious of prices that are too good to be true.

2. Buying retail. Do comparison price shopping online and know read the fine print (including Return Policy, Terms & Conditions, and Privacy Policy).

3. Buying big ticket items. If you are buying a car or new furniture, you may be getting a loan or into financing to pay for your item. Sign up for the shortest term length you can afford to keep your total interest lower. Remember, the longer term you have for a loan or financing, the more you'll pay in interest.

4. Financial goal setting. "Spend less than you earn." It may sound easy, but getting buried in debt is easy if you do not make a monthly budget and stick to it. Consider those little purchases that add up over a year, and be willing to lose those little costly pleasures.

5. Take control of your data. Where you go online, what you search for is often being collected by the service you use. Get to know your privacy settings for things like Facebook and your search tool. Also, consider reducing your public Wi-Fi usage and make sure your logins are secure and encrypted (look for "https" in the address bar).

6. Create difficult passwords and unique accounts. Keep different login identities and passwords for all your networks. Mix upper and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password and do not use your email as your account login.

7. Use gift cards and prepaid credit cards within one month of receiving it. While there is consumer protection legislation in place regarding expire dates on gift cards, it is better to use the cards early so you do not forget about them. In some cases, there can be fees and even expiry dates on certain types of cards.

8. Defuse sales pressure tactics. People often realize when they are in a high pressure sales moment. Keep control over the situation by using statements like, "I'd like some time to think about this. Tell me how I can get in touch with you." Or, say: "If I'm interested, I'll call you back."

9. Get smart phone safe. Update all your device and security settings and make sure your phone is password protected.

10. Check your credit report annually. Contact one of Canada's credit bureaus to receive a copy of your credit report by mail, free of charge. For more information, contact:

• TransUnion Canada: 1-866-525-0262 www.transunion.ca

• Equifax Canada: 1-800-465-7166 www.equifax.ca

For more tips you can trust, visit www.mbc.bbb.org

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