Photo by Psychonaught [public domain]I’ve always pictured my parents as invincible—two superheroes who not only gave me sound advice growing up, but were always there to pick me up when I fell. They also taught me to make smart decisions and be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers. So you can imagine my surprise when I received a call last week about their major life-changing event.…
BBB Warns of Attacks on Income
As the filing deadline quickly approaches, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is warning tax-paying consumers to file cautiously.
On the Phone:
On March 20, 2014, the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration issued a statement that more than 20,000 people have collectively lost more than $1 million in the “largest ever” phone fraud scam of its kind. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office issued a similar alert.
E-filing continues to be a primary target for cyber thieves, who can collect personal data and divert refunds to their own accounts without the victims’ knowledge.
Tax-related identity theft is the number one threat to taxpayers, according to the IRS. BBB issued a release in January 2014 which highlights the increase in threats and what filers can do to protect identities. Read Tax Season Brings Out Identity Thieves for more information.
Remember, the filing deadline is April 15, 2014. Failure to file may result in fees and penalties. For more information on protecting identities, visit BBB News & Events. To report phishing or tax-related identity theft, visit irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing.
Whether it’s someone posing as a relative in need or a desperate lover in distress, imposter scam complaint numbers continue to climb. In 2013, the Consumer Sentinel Network collected more than two million consumer complaints from the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureaus and many other agencies to create its Data Book. The annual publication analyzes patterns in complaints to aid consumer advocates and law enforcement agencies in protecting Americans.
Imposter scams take on many different forms and can lead to identity theft and major financial problems; the 2013 Data Book reveals some disturbing trends:
- “Imposter: Business” complaints jumped 4,415 percent since 2011.
- “Imposter: Romance” complaints climbed by 321,333 percent since 2011.
- “Lending: Payday Loan” complaints increased by 3,951 percent since 2011.
Number of complaints by year; source: 2013 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book
BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington has previously issued warnings about these topics to protect local communities:
- Avoid business imposter scams by Being Mindful of Masqueraders.
- Avoid romance scams by not Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.
- Avoid payday loan problems with What You Need to Know About Payday Loans.
The best line of defense in protecting identities and avoiding scams is being proactive. Whether it’s securely destroying unneeded documents at a BBB Secure Your ID Day or following BBB on Facebook and Twitter, visit bbb.org and take steps to avoid becoming a statistic in next year’s Data Book.
An encryption flaw called the Heartbleed bug that has exposed a collection of popular websites — from Airbnb and Yahoo to NASA and OKCupid — could be one of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen.
Better Business Bureau Helps Prevent Medical ID Theft
According to the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, medical identity theft increased nearly 20 percent in 2013 and affected approximately 1.84 million victims in the United States—who paid more than $12 billion in out-of-pocket costs. Statistics still indicate that a majority of identity theft occurs by physical means—like dumpster diving and mail theft—and properly destroying sensitive personal documents is extremely important.
To protect consumers, Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington and sponsors present BBB Secure Your ID Day—which will offer free document shredding and cell phone recycling—on April 26, 2014, at locations across BBB’s service area:
Alaska: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Salvation Army Community Center, 1701 C Street, Anchorage. Shredding by Shred Alaska.
Oregon: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bridgeport Village—located off I-5 at exit 290, just 15 minutes south of downtown Portland, in the Orvis parking lot. Shredding by Shred-it.
Western Washington: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome, 2727 East D Street, Tacoma – Lot G. Shredding by Cintas.
Drop off up to three bags or boxes per person to be destroyed on-site. Sign up for the chance to win a personal shredder from BBB—Alaska and Western Washington only. Unwanted cell phones will be accepted as part of Verizon’s HopeLine, which wipes data and allocates devices to victims of domestic abuse.
In conjunction with Secure Your ID Day in Alaska, BBB is partnering with several community organizations and financial institutions to simultaneously host the third annual Financial Fitness Fair, which will offer free financial workshops and prizes.
For more information on what to shred, read Securing Identities: A Step-by-Step Guide to Document Shredding.
These events are made possible by Better Business Bureau, Wells Fargo, Shred Alaska, United Way of Anchorage, CINTAS, Legal Shield, Safe Streets, Print NW, Boy Scouts of America Pacific Harbors Council, LeMay America’s Auto Museum, KIRO Radio, Tacoma Dome, DirectBuy of Portland and Shred-It.
Shredded Paper | © Mike Haw / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-2.0
Spring is in the air and it’s the perfect excuse I need to begin the process of cleaning and reorganizing my home/desk/life. I’ve never been much of a hoarder but working at Better Business Bureau for the last few years has reinforced my fear of throwing away any pieces of paper that have personal information on them—after all, most iden…
I got ya
Photo by Bill Branson [Public domain]Checking a BBB Business Review is the first step in vetting a company, but it’s not the only step. Additionally, potential customers should check that businesses have the required licensing before signing contracts. BBB Accredited Businesses are required to keep all licensing up-to-date in order to maintain accreditation; however, BBB does not publicly report…
Green Cleaning Seattle is BBB’s 2014 Western Washington Business of the Year
Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is proud to announce that Green Cleaning Seattle – Eco Maid Services™ of Seattle is the 2014 recipient of the Western Washington Business of the Year Torch Award.
In its entry for BBB’s Business of the Year Torch Award, Green Cleaning Seattle cited the importance of building a strong, happy community of both team members and customers. Employees are valued as family and are treated to monthly events like camping trips, movie nights and dinner outings. Customers are educated and inspired towards “greener solutions.”
When asked what the Torch Award means to her business, Franchise Owner Gea Bassett said, “This award represents an acknowledgement of success—that we are on the right path. Receiving this award is encouraging and makes us want to continue to do better and provide better services for our clients and our community.”
Basset also explained her reason for submitting an application: “We wanted to share the fact that if we can do it, anyone can. Our company was started with very little revenue, but our community has been receptive to the work we do and the philosophy we embrace.”
BBB Torch Award recipients are selected by volunteer judges from third-party community organizations.
Learn more about BBB’s Business of the Year Torch Awards at bbb.org/bbb-business-of-the-year-torch-awards.