The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a non-profit organization that has worked for more than 70 years to create a marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other. It accomplishes this through consumer and business education, setting ethical standards for businesses, complaint resolution and exposing unethical business practices.
Welcome to “Trust Matters”, the official blog of the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB). A large part of the BBB’s mission is to help you become a smarter consumer, and that’s why we’re excited about our new blog. Readers of our blog will get timely advice, helpful tips and warnings about unethical businesses or business practices in the metro-Milwaukee area. We want to help you make an informed choice about which businesses you should hire, and which businesses you should avoid…even if they were giving away their products or services!
First, a little bit about our organization: The BBB is a non-profit organization that’s been protecting consumers and setting ethical standards for Wisconsin businesses for more than 70 years. Last year alone, consumers turned to us more than 3.5 million times to read our Business Reviews when researching a company, file a complaint against a business, find a reputable company, and receive news and advice.
We've all seen the terrible pictures or videos of the devastation in Japan, and some of you may be moved to help by donating to a charity. Before you do, the Wisconsin BBB wants you to be aware of these tsunami-related scams that we've already seen in the few short days since the disaster occurred:
- Be careful of emails claiming to be from the "British Red Cross", asking you to use an online payment system to donate. The real "British Red Cross" has confirmed that this is a scam. Click here for more information.
- The Salvation Army reports that its name and logo has also been used to send phony emails to solicit donations to aid Japanese tsunami victims. Click here for more information.
- On Facebook, there are "clickjacking" scams that promise to show you a video of a whale being washed ashore during the tsunami. Don't click on any status updates that say, "24ftJapanese Tsunami Crashes Whale Into Building". Clicking on that status update won't show you the video, as promised. Instead, it will download malware to your computer and start spamming your friends.
- The BBB is also aware of celebrities selling wristbands and other items with promises to donate the proceeds to tsunami victims. Although well-intentioned, important information is not included in the offer, such as how much money will be donated per item, and to what charity. Please ask these questions before purchasing any items that you think will be helping tsunami victims.
- Some scammers are capitalizing on the nuclear reactor crisis in Japan by pushing potassium iodide kits. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that no U.S. resident needs to take potassium iodide because of the nuclear crisis in Japan. Click here for more information.
- Be wary of door-to-door appeals. If someone knocks on your door asking for a donation, ask them for written materials about the charity. A reputable charity should be able to provide them. In addition, tell the solicitor that you'd prefer to research a charity before you donate.
Before you give, research a charity at www.bbb.org. The Better Business Bureau and the Wise Giving Alliance have created reports on charities that can tell you about the charity's mission, finances, governance, and whether or not it meets the BBB's 20 Standards of Charity Accountability.
Most Americans will get assistance from a professional tax preparer or tax software when filing their taxes this year. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) encourages taxpayers to use caution when selecting tax preparation help or they may get hit with headaches and mounting fines and fees if the return isn’t correct or filed late.
According to the IRS, 80 percent of Americans enlist the help of a tax preparer or tax software when filing their taxes. Unfortunately, every year BBB receives thousands of complaints from consumers against tax preparers. Commonly, complainants state that the tax preparer made errors in their return which resulted in fines and fees.