The poor handling of a customer’s grievance can be one of the easiest ways to destroy an otherwise impeccable reputation.
LOTTERY SCAM LURES VICTIMS WITH ‘MEGA MILLIONS’
BBB Warns of Calls from Area Code 876
August 20, 2014 — “You’ve won millions!” That’s the bait from the latest Jamaican lottery scam. The caller tells the “winner” all he needs to do is pay a few thousand dollars in taxes and fees then the Mega Millions Jackpot is his to keep. The problem is, once the victim pays up, the caller will take the money and run.
Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns the public to beware of calls from area code 876. The caller often claims to be a lottery official from Jamaica and explains the only way the “winner” can collect is to first pay taxes via a prepaid debit card. The scammer then asks for the card information and pin and drains the account before disappearing.
The Jamaican lottery scam has already cost consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars, sparking alerts from both the Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Some victims even report being threatened with physical harm if they don’t agree to pay the fees.
Homer, an 80-year-old resident of Vancouver, Wash., said he almost became a victim of a similar scam from a European sweepstakes that offered him thousands of dollars, but he was sharp enough to not fall for it. “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” he said. Homer is available for interviews with local media.
In the Pacific Northwest this year, BBB has received 74 complaints of lottery and sweepstakes scams. BBB reminds consumers to follow four important steps in order to avoid falling victim.
- Enter to win. Participants need to buy a ticket or complete an application in order to win a contest or lottery. “Winners” should be especially careful if they never entered a contest.
- Verify first. Check if an offer is real, but don’t call the phone number in the email or website of the alleged contest. If it is a trick, chances are the person on the other line will be involved, too. Consumers can call BBB for assistance.
- Don’t pay for the prize. Winners should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of wiring money or using a prepaid debit card.
- Join the “do not call list.” Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry. This won’t stop scams entirely, but it can help reduce the number of unwanted calls you receive.
BEWARE OF CHARITY RIP-OFFS FOLLOWING WILDFIRES
WA Officials Partner to Help Relief Efforts, Encourage Wise Giving
DuPont, Wash. — July 30, 2014 — With relief efforts underway in Washington’s Carlton Complex fire, Better Business Bureau along with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Secretary of State Kim Wyman urge consumers to be on the lookout for bogus charities and scammers trying to capitalize on a natural disaster.
Officials warn of slick con artists who pose as agents for official-sounding charities and target well-intentioned donors who want only to help the victims of the fires.
While BBB, the Attorney General’s Office and the Secretary of State sympathize with the victims and their loved ones during this tragic time, all three organizations urge donors to give wisely.
- Beware of demanding solicitors. Don’t give in to high-pressure tactics and requests for immediate donations. Take time to research the charity and make up your mind.
- Use qualified charities. Check to see if the charity has the resources necessary and is equipped to help with disaster relief; otherwise, donations may be not be as effective.
- Pay with care. Avoid cash donations; write a check directly to the charity, not the fundraiser; and never give out credit card numbers over the phone.
- Verify. Steer clear of “pop-up” charities with unverifiable background and contact information.
- Block fake solicitations. Watch out for requests from fake “victims” or memorial social media accounts.
Better Business Bureau, the Washington Attorney General and the Secretary of State advise consumers to contact potential charities directly. For more information on finding charities, visit the Secretary State “Information for Donors” page or call 1-800-332-4483, BBB.org or Give.org, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Consumers can also visit the SOS website for tips on giving wisely. If someone feels they are the victim of a scam, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.
AVOID THE BLITZ BY BLOCKING FAKE TICKET OFFERS
BBB Warns of Scams as Hawk Tickets Go on Sale
July 21, 2014 — As single-game tickets for the Seahawks go on sale Monday, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns fans to be wary of too-good-to-be-true deals.
Online classified ads list thousands of sports tickets, but BBB reminds shoppers that oftentimes there are no guarantees, and sellers don’t have to provide identification to list tickets. With high prices and diehard fans, it is certain that fraudsters will try to hustle fake tickets.
Before plucking down cash or giving credit card numbers, review BBB’s advice to Hawk fans:
- Play smart. Use credit when buying game tickets; if the tickets don’t arrive or turn out to be fakes, charges can be disputed.
- Pass up offers to wire money. Con artists often use classified websites such as Craigslist to post non-existent tickets, and then ask for payment to be wired.
- Call an audible. If the tickets appear suspicious, walk away. Look for smeared ink, uneven edges and flimsy paper. Always research ticket sellers first at bbb.org.
- Take a timeout. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always take time to choose authorized ticket and merchandise retailers; check with the official Seahawks site for more information.
FREE WI-FI CONNECTIONS LEAD TO SIDEJACKING
BBB Warns of Growing Online Attacks Targeting Wi-Fi Users
Sidejacking is a common term for man-in-the-middle “eavesdropping” attacks that occur through unsecured Wi-Fi connections. Coffee shops, college campuses, airports and hotels are breeding grounds for hackers who try to compromise personal information and place computers at risk for viruses.
Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns users to be cautious when connecting to public hotspots and surfing on a non-secure internet connection.
Using public Wi-Fi is inherently risky; laptops, smartphones and tablets are all susceptible to security breaches. Exercising best practices takes only a few extra seconds and can eliminate many dangers.
BBB recommends the following steps to protect from hackers:
· Update protection. Make sure virus protection and anti-malware programs are up-to-date and active.
· Never assume connections are legitimate. Many fake networks deliberately utilize similar names, such as “coffee_shop1” or “official airport wifi.”
· Look for connection authenticity. Look for signs posted at the location providing the connection, or ask an employee for information about the legitimate Wi-Fi access point.
· Use a Virtual Private Network. VPNs encrypt data that passes through the connection and prevent interception.
· Avoid specific websites. Social networking channels, online banking services and certain shopping sites contain significant amounts of personal/financial data that, if hijacked, could seriously compromise identities.
BBB reminds online users to frequently change passwords and to not stay permanently logged in to wireless networks. For more information about online safety, check out OnGuardOnline.gov; visit the BBB News & Events page for the latest scam alerts and marketplace updates.
Photo by Jon Sullivan [Public domain]Everyone knows that it’s easy to get caught up in the sheer volume of information on the Internet; just about anything you want to research is online somewhere. Just the other day, out of curiosity, I went on Googleto see how many noses a snail has. Will I ever need this information? No, probably not. But the answer is out there so I just had to find it. Fun…
World Cup Scams Get A Red Card
June 5, 2014 – On June 12, 2014, the FIFA World Cup tournament begins in Brazil, pitting 32 of the best football—or “soccer” in the United States—teams against each other in one of the world’s most widely viewed sporting events. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is kicking off the occasion with some tips on safely following the action.
Fans who are considering attending matches in person should read BBB’s article about getting “tripped up” during travel season and the Federal Trade Commission’s article on avoiding fake tickets; fans who are attending matches from home should score a GOAL:
Go with official event broadcasts and avoid potentially malicious online streaming sites.
Obtain authentic mobile apps from legitimate sources to keep devices secure.
Access secure wireless networks when surfing to avoid hackers.
Link with caution and avoid shady email offers.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported on a large cyber-attack against one of the main World Cup ticketing services, and it is likely that attempts to scam fans will increase in the final weeks before kickoff.
Don’t get stuck on the sidelines and miss all the action, visit the BBB News & Events page for the latest scam alerts and marketplace updates.
Trojan | © Berishafjolla / Wikimedia Commons /CC-BY-SA-3.0
One of the most common ways in which people unknowingly fall victim to cyber-crime is through computer-related phone scams. According to the most recently available United States Census Bureaudata, 75.6 percent of Americans had household computers in 2011. With the population of the U.S. approaching 319 million, there are approximately…
Better Business Bureau Helps Consumers Find Reputable Workers
According to the National Association of Home Builders, 60 percent of home owners hired professional contractors to perform work in 2011. And with consumers each spending an average of $4,000 per year on home repairs, this large industry attracts a lot of companies—good and bad. Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington advises remodelers about choosing the right tools for pricey jobs to avoid costly re-do’s of shoddy work.
- Research credentials. Check for permanent places of business, telephone numbers, tax ID numbers and business licenses. Make sure businesses are financially stable and ask for proof.
- Verify insurance coverage. Ask to see copies of liability coverage and workers’ compensation certificates. If contractors aren’t properly insured, home owners may be liable for accidents that happen on their properties; ensure that coverage runs through job completions.
- Examine licensing and bonding. Licenses protect consumers and payment bonds will insure liens cannot be placed on homes if subcontractors do not get paid.
- Ask about reputations. Ask contractors for lists of completed projects and double-check with previous customers. Verified customer reviews on local businesses are available at bbb.org.
- Read the fine print. Carefully read and understand contracts; look over warranties and any provisions that may void them. Once contracts have been signed, make sure all changes are in writing—never rely on verbal agreements.
- Avoid large upfront payments. Initial payments should not exceed $1,000 or 10 percent of total contracts and only pay for work that has been satisfactorily completed.
Consumers should avoid contractors who use high-pressure sales tactics, refuse to give written estimates or contracts, fail to get proper permits or require full or substantial payments before the work begins. Remember, the lowest price is not necessarily the best.
Finding the right company for the right job takes a little work, but will be worth it in the end. Oregonians can visit Construction Contractors Board and Washingtonians can visit Labor & Industries ProtectMyHome page for tips on hiring smart; everyone can visit the BBB Accredited Business online directory to find local reputable contractors.