BBB - January Scams


BBB Spoof Call

BBB recently received information indicating a BBB “neighbor spoof” may again be circulating.

“Neighbor spoofing” is a scam tactic in which a fake number shows up on your caller ID to attempt to trick you into thinking someone local--possibly even someone you know--is calling. According to experts, this may interest people just enough to answer their phone.

Answering one of these caller ID spoofed calls will indicate to the caller that you have an active phone line. Active phone lines are valuable to phone scammers and will often put you on what is referred to as a “sucker list,” potentially opening your phone line up to more scam calls.

BBB recently received a call from a consumer, explaining that her mother-in-law was contacted by someone claiming to be from BBB, and stating she would be charged $299 for a “subscription” if she did not call a specific number. The caller was unaware of any subscription offered to consumers by BBB, and was rightfully suspicious of the call.

BBB does occasionally reach out to consumers, but would never request money, passwords or any other sensitive personal information.

If you are unsure if it's really the BBB calling, tell the caller you will call them back and end the call. Then check the phone number on bbb.org and call your local BBB directly.

Always Use Caution when Shopping Online

In today’s global economy, our scope of consumerism is far greater than ever before. If you aren’t able to find a product locally or at your desired price point, ordering online is a convenient option. Before you make purchases from unknown retailers, keep the following in mind:

●The trendier the item, the more likely you’ll see it advertised by multiple retailers online. Your internet activity is also often data-mined to produce ads tailored to your interests, so this may contribute to ads for the item popping up in your social media feeds. Many times these retailers aren’t actual businesses, but are individuals who act as middlemen who drop-ship goods from manufacturers to consumers. This means they may never actually lay eyes on the product they’re selling.

●Anything shipping from overseas is going to take much longer. In the age of Amazon Prime, we’re accustomed to a fast turnaround for online purchases. However, documentation, customs clearance, handling, and inland shipping can add weeks-- and sometimes months-- to the total shipping time. If you’re ordering items from an overseas retailer, be prepared to wait.

●When it comes to clothing, sizing in other countries is not the same as sizing in the US. Consult sizing conversion charts, and also any reviews you can find about the item and how it might fit on American bodies.

●Speaking of reviews, read them thoroughly for product quality information. Many times products are advertised as stock images, and may not arrive in the same condition as stated.

●If ordering products involving drugs, makeup, hygienic products, or similar, do as much research as possible into any potential safety regulations imposed on the product, and if possible, the country from where it was manufactured. Many products in the United States are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, but other countries do not necessarily have to adhere to these same guidelines.

●Refunds could be trickier. You might be required to pay a high return shipping price, or in some cases BBB has noted recently, be asked to donate the item and provide verification of the donation in order to receive the refund. Sometimes refunds might not be available at all.

When in doubt, rely on your internal compass for risk v. reward. And as always, be sure to use BBB’s tried and true checklist of questions before entering into a transaction with any business:

●Am I doing business with a business or an individual?

●Where are they located? Do I have proper contact information for the business? This should include address, email, phone, website, etc. (the more, the better)

●What are their policies? Can the policies be enforced?

●What is their track record?

●Have I done proper research on them?

●Am I protected if there is a problem?

●Does the business need to be registered and/or licensed?

If any of these questions are difficult to answer, or produce red flags, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local BBB with your concerns, or submit your experience to www.scamtracker.org.