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In honor of my Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Gabriella Samuels is writing for my newsletter and blog a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Margaret Danniher.

As 2024 begins, I’ve thought back on what I’ve learned from writing Consumer Tips. Scams of many kinds are more prevalent than ever. With increasing changes in technology, protecting your data is more important but also more difficult. Scams are becoming more advanced and harder to notice, especially with the advancements of certain technologies, such as A.I.

From writing these Consumer Tips, I’ve become even more vigilant about potential scams and data stealing, and more careful about what and where I buy products. One thing that I do so much more now is research a company to check its legitimacy before going to any website or buying any product.

Fellow Consumer Tip writer Kay Coyte shared how she has also become more vigilant as well. She shared a story of when she recently called her bank. After being handed off to different agents, one of them asked for personal information, although the information should have already been in front of the agent. Kay said, “I made HER tell ME account details until I felt secure in the call and we moved on.”

I am similar in that I am very cautious when engaging with my bank or any other entity that might have or need my personal information.

General daily tips that I try to follow:

  • Confirm the legitimacy of phone numbers on company websites
  • Let unknown numbers go to voicemail & do not call them back
  • Never give personal information on the phone
  • Avoid using QR codes
  • Use preview feature to check links on my phone or laptop
  • Avoid using auto-fill on websites (you can use a password manager to help with this)
  • Don’t plug your phone or tablet into public outlets (for example airports)

Of course, sometimes you cannot avoid certain risks such as when you go to a restaurant, and they only use QR codes for the menus, or when you’re waiting for a phone call from an unknown number. However, it never hurts to be careful and aware.

And remember, if you think you have been a victim of a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at