A list of hot topics presented by the Better Business Bureau for the month of March 2012. For more information visit www.bbb.org.
1. Hiring a Contractor - Whether you have damage after severe storms, or you are trying to spruce up your home, hire a contractor you can trust. Get at least three bids, get everything in writing, and beware of those who knock on your door offering “too good to be true prices” and asking for money up-front.
2. BBB Tips on Storm Relief Donations: Be cautious when giving online, especially in response to spam emails that claim to link to a relief organization. Be wary of those who knock on your door, wanting money “on the spot.” A reputable organization will welcome your money later. Be wary of claims that 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. And, check out the charity at www.bbb.org/charity.
3. Beware of Gas-Saving Claims that “empty your wallet, instead of saving you fuel!” Many websites make claims for various aftermarket auto devices (fuel-line magnets, air bleed devices, etc.) and oil and gasoline additives that supposedly “increase gas mileage.” Many of these claims are false or overly exaggerated. Some could even cause engine problems.
4. Clev Tower Dispatch Deliveries contacted a local consumer via email, saying they had won a 2012 BMW. The company, supposedly located in Louisville, was going to deliver the car to their home, but the “lucky winner” had to pay $300 to get it. Luckily, this smart consumer didn’t fall for it!
5. Sentry Armored Dispatch Company is contacting local consumers, impersonating government agencies, claiming they are supervising the distribution of sweepstakes winnings. The FTC has put out an alert on this company. The scammers attempt to convince lucky winners to wire money to “ensure delivery of the prize.” This is a SCAM!
6. Scammers are using social media sites to con people into Investment Scams. The ability to access personal information on the sites allows scammers to personalize and target their pitch, and over time, build trust with potential victims. Beware of unknown “friends,” avoid high-pressured pitches, beware of testimonials from other “investors,” and check the reliability of a company at www.bbb.org.
7. March 4 – 10 is National Consumer Protection Week. BBB, along with other organizations, is encouraging every consumer to make better-informed purchasing decisions. Go to NCPW.gov for information on protecting your privacy, staying safe online, managing your money, how to avoid identity theft, and more.
8. BBB Commends Savvy Consumers: Consumers asked BBB for help more than 103 million times in 2011, up from 87 million in 2010 – the highest rate in the organization’s 100-year history! Complaints were down across the U.S. and Canada to 927,000 in 2011 compared to just over one million in 2010. It looks like consumers are doing their homework!
9. It’s Prom Shopping Season! Do your homework before you make a purchase for your high school student for this special occasion. Check out dress/tuxedo shops, florists, and limo companies at www.bbb.org.
10. Spring Cleaning is a good time to rid your home of paperwork! What should you keep/discard? Keep canceled checks related to a home purchase or sale, renovations, for contributions to retirement accounts, or checks that support your tax returns for a minimum of seven years – all other checks can be discarded. Throw out deposit, ATM, credit/debit card receipts after the transaction appears on your statement. After one year, you can throw out credit card and bank account statements that have no tax or other long-term significance. And be sure anything with confidential information is shredded before you throw it out!