BBB November Scams

Gain By Giving

BBB Center for Ethics has a program that allows businesses and charities to connect with one another to make the community a better place. The program - called Gain by Giving - was designed to fulfill operational needs encountered by area Accredited Charities, and it gives BBB Accredited Businesses the opportunity to lend a helping hand. 

BBB Center for Ethics will act as a facilitator, bringing the Accredited Charities and Businesses with similar goals together to fulfill the requests. This not only gives the nonprofits the boost in morale they need, it also creates lasting relationships between community leaders.

Interested organizations are encouraged to visit, as that is where everything comes together; charities can list what they need, and businesses can post what they can give. 


Gift Receipts: Always ask for a gift receipt. This way the recipient can return or exchange a gift if it’s not just right.

Warranty Information: Inquire about the store’s return policy before purchasing. Also, be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the person who will use the item.

Research: Read product reviews, check for Business Profiles, look at the sales flyers and ads, compare prices, look for early promotions and “flash sales.” For tips on searching online, check out BBB Digital IQ.

Mobile Security: With so many shoppers using their mobile devices to research and make purchases, it’s important to have a secure device. Be sure you're using the recently updated version of apps and operating system on the phone.   Also, actively manage your location services, Bluetooth, microphone and camera – make sure apps use them appropriately.

Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi is vulnerable to thieves and fraudsters looking to steal your info. When in stores or restaurants, avoid using banking or other apps that access sensitive personal information.

Email Phishing: With all the promotional emails received during the holidays, scammers will be out in full force. It’s best not to click on links from senders you don’t recognize. You can also hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is really taking you to where it says it is. Also, check the reply email address. The address should be on a company domain. Watch for look-alike domains.

Interest-Based Advertising: As you browse the web or use your favorite store’s app, you might notice ads personalized to you, sometimes based on your previous web searches. This is called Interest-Based Advertising, which is often signaled by Ad Choices in the corners of ads. If you want to opt out of receiving this type of advertising, download the AppChoices app or visit

Back up Your Data: Have an online backup option in case your device is attacked by hackers. You do not want to lose all your family’s information and memories.

Look Out for Scams:  If you suspect a scam, check out BBB Scam Tips to learn more ( or report scams to BBB Scam Tracker (

Charity Disclosure: Check out to find BBB Accredited Charities that have fully disclosed information to BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Although participation is voluntary, you may want to be cautious of charities that don’t disclose requested information to BBB.

What’s In a Name: Be on the lookout for name similarities. Dubious charities often pick a name that sounds like a more famous charity.  Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity you want to support. Learn more about charitable giving at

Makers, Minds, and Money: Celebrating Small Business Success in Lebanon - Friday, Nov. 16

The Cincinnati Better Business Bureau, U.S. Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Lebanon will celebrate the city’s entrepreneurs, highlight small business resources and publicize the upcoming November 24 Small Business Saturday initiative with a resource fair and Lebanon small business walking tour on November 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lebanon Public Library. This event highlights the benefits that small businesses bring to the local community and strengthen the business environment by amplifying the resource network available to rural entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.According to the Small Business Administration, this initiative generates two of every three net new jobs and deliver essential goods and services to consumers. Last year, more than 108 million Americans participated in Small Business Saturday, by shopping or dining small, and generated approximately $12 billion in reported spending. This year, support your local businesses and remember to #ShopSmall with us on November 24. 

To Grandmother’s House, We Go - Panel Discussion and Community Forum Dec. 5

Join us December 5 for a panel discussion and community forum to address this issue featuring experts from the Cincinnati Police Department, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department, Council on Aging and Pro Seniors to talk about what scams are affecting the community, how thieves are fooling victims and what resources are available for vulnerable groups that can help prevent scam activity. 

All communities, caregivers, healthcare providers, law enforcement and media are welcome to join this free event at the Veterans Medical Administration Center, 3200 Vine St. in the Auditorium beginning at 3:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session. Reservations recommended. Please RSVP on Eventbrite or

Duke Energy, the Better Business Bureau, and the Ohio Consumers Counsel join forces to protect customers and small businesses on Utility Scam Awareness Day

WHAT:  Duke Energy, the Better Business Bureau of Cincinnati and the Ohio Consumer’s Counsel are working together as part of a week-long campaign focused on identifying the tricks scammers use to steal money from customers and how customers can protect themselves. 

WHEN:   November 15 at 10:30 a.m.

WHERE:       Better Business Bureau 1 E. 4th Street Suite 600  Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

WHY: Scammers posing as utility representatives use a variety of email, in-person and phone tactics to target families and small businesses to steal money. Duke Energy customers have become nearly 50 percent less susceptible to scams since the formation of Utilities United Against Scams in 2016, scams continue to evolve. According to Hiya, a phone spam protection company, utility scams grew 109 percent in 2016. BBB also reported an uptick in these types of scams in the winter and summer months, when people are most likely to need heat or air conditioning. In the summer, door-to-door tactics from scammers have become more common. BBB’s 2016 Scam Tracker Risk Report found that of those who were victims of a utility scam, the average loss was $500.

Here are the common scam tactics and ways customers can protect themselves:

Common scam tactics

Power disconnection threats: Customers may receive threats to turn off electric service – usually in less than an hour – if a large payment is not made. 

Immediate payment requests: Customers are asked to quickly purchase a prepaid debit card and provide the card information, which grants the scammer instant access to personal funds. Some scammers may also request a money wire.

Calls that appear to be from your utility: Scammers may rig caller ID to make it look like the call is from a service provider. 

How to protect yourself All three agencies encourage customers who suspect a scam, hang up and call Duke Energy at the number listed on their bill. Never dial the phone number provided by the scammers. Report these incidents to BBB's Scamtracker at

Do not pay over the phone if immediate payment is demanded to avoid disconnection. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification from Duke Energy with the regular monthly billing – never a single notification an hour before disconnection. Duke Energy never asks or requires a customer with a delinquent account to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection. Customers can make payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.

Brian Thomas

Brian Thomas

Based in Cincinnati, OH, the Brian Thomas Morning Show covers news and politics, both local and national, from a conservative point of view. Read more


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