Father’s Day Advice: Be Smart About Adventure Packages
Is Dad an adventure seeker? Is he up for the thrill of skydiving, whitewater rafting or other exciting adventures? How about golf lessons, a fishing trip, or a wilderness experience? With Father's Day on Sunday, June 16, Better Business Bureau is recommending that shoppers consider the fine print before purchasing high adventure activities or gift certificates for Dad.
Ask around for recommendations. Ask friends, verify references, and be sure to check out the BBB Business Reviews at bbb.org before handing over any money.
Check for additional fees and limitations before purchasing. Make sure you know if any additional fees apply for things like equipment rental, meals and transportation. Check for other limitations; some high adventure activities restrict those with certain health issues.
Make sure Dad’s schedule matches the times the activity can be done. Some outdoor thrills can only be done during a certain season or time of day; most require advanced reservations.
Check the refund policy and expiration date. When buying expensive items or gifts, get refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee policies in writing. Make sure you know the expiration date of the offer, and if a refund is available if Dad can’t make it for any reason. Some gift certificates and discount coupons are transferable and some are not. Are there any cancellation penalties? What is considered a valid cancellation reason for the buyer or the operator? Under what conditions is a full refund available?
Read rental agreements carefully. Make sure you have a written contract for any recreational rentals (cabins, all-terrain vehicles, campers, kayaks, motorcycles, etc.). The agreement should spell out base rental cost, daily fees, insurance, and other details such as time restrictions. If at all possible, visually inspect the rental prior to committing.
Get the details in writing. For things like tours, classes, sightseeing and lessons, make sure you get all of the costs and features in writing. What services and equipment are included? Ensure taxes, service fees and other charges are clearly disclosed. Asterisks are commonly used to indicate restrictions, such as additional charges and time requirements. Look for a "conditions" clause. Read the small print to see if it alters the original offer. Get a gift receipt and enclose it with the present.
Cut Down on Junk Mail and Spam
There are a few things more annoying than junk mail, spam and unsolicited calls and texts messages. Not only are these unwanted communications an annoyance, but they can potentially lead to identity theft.
But how do you stop them? While it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate junk mail, spam text messages and unwanted phone calls, BBB recommends taking the following steps for getting your inboxes and phone lines under control.
Unwanted mail shouldn’t cost you your identity. Pre-approved credit card offers are an easy target for identity thieves who can steal incoming mail and use these offers to open fraudulent credit accounts. Stopping these pre-screened credit offers can help reduce the chances of identity theft. U.S. consumers can “opt-out” of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for at least five years by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit: optoutprescreen.com. This service is offered by the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Canadian residents can visit fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home for more tips.
Stop unwanted direct mail solicitations. To stop most mailings, U.S. consumers can go to dmachoice.org and opt out of mail from members of the Direct Marketing Association. DMA regularly updates its list, but it may take up to six months before solicitations from all DMA members stop. If you live in Canada, register for the Canadian Marketing Association’s Do Not Contact list at the-cma.org.
Has your evening been interrupted by telemarketers? You’re not alone. The U.S. government's National Do Not Call Registry is a free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register your phone number or to get information about the registry, visit donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will get fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number. Canadian residents can visit lnnte-dncl.gc.ca for opt-out information.
Are you receiving spam text messages? First and foremost, don’t respond. Responding to the text message only confirms a working number and opens the door for more messages. If your number is already on the Do Not Call Registry and you’re still receiving messages and phone calls, file a complaint with the FCC or the Canadian Anti–Fraud Centre and consider PrivacyStar. BBB National Partners AT&T and Verizon have partnered with PrivacyStar to give you back control of your smartphone. The smartphone application, available in the U.S. for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone, lets you block unwanted numbers, look up unknown numbers, and file a complaint with the FTC.
Keep Your Home Safe While You Are Away
With an estimated 136 million Americans going on at least one vacation this summer, safety and security precautions are a must. Proactive measures can help consumers keep their home safe from fire, carbon monoxide, and the threat of burglary while they are away.
Better Business Bureau and home security pioneer, ADT are offering the following safety tips for homeowners during the summer season:
· Be careful about the vacation details you share via social media. Burglars can use posts on Twitter or Facebook to determine when you’ll be away. More than one third (35%) of Americans polled in Safety Data Index survey said they believed their home is too ordinary and would notinterest a burglar. However, a vacant home could be enough to attract unwanted attention, so be careful about broadcasting your travel plans.
· Lock your doors even when you’re gone for a brief amount of time. Two thirds (67%) of Americans surveyed for the Safety Data Index agree they do more to protect their homes when they are going away for a night than when they are just leaving for a few hours. But, according to the FBI, more than half (53%) of home burglaries happen during the day, so homeowners should secure doors and windows every time they leave their home.
· Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every month. Summer marks the beginning of hurricane season, and if a generator needs to be used in a power outage, a quick test of your monitored life safety devices can help keep your family safe from potentially dangerous fumes.
· Keep hedges and bushes around your home trimmed, so burglars don’t have places to hide.
If you want to relax on vacation, make sure your vacation planning includes securing your home while you are gone. If you choose to contract with a security company, check out their BBB Business Review first at www.bbb.org or call your local BBB office at 1-800-372-4222 ext 101.