Jan 03

Remember BBB advice when buying playoff tickets, merchandise

The Buffalo Bills are headed to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. Remember Better Business Bureau advice when buying playoff tickets, booking travel, or buying merchandise online.


The Buffalo Bills are in the playoffs for the first time in 17 years!


In the 17 years since the last playoff appearance, we’ve seen big changes in the way tickets to events are bought and sold. Also, there were no social media back in 1999. So we can say that things have changed a lot!

Purchasing Tickets

The Buffalo Bills will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The Jaguars’ website states that all tickets are mobile entry only, meaning no paper tickets are issued for the game. Fans must have a smartphone to enter.

If you decide you want to buy tickets, they are available on the secondary market. But remember to check those tickets before purchasing. BBB has advice for buying tickets here

Traveling to Jacksonville

Getting that ticket is the first part of the battle, now you have to get to Jacksonville. BBB has advice for those seeking last-minute travel arrangements. 

Online Merchandise

Sports fans are always eager to show off their team’s accomplishments. Hats and other merchandise are already out there celebrating the Bills in the playoffs. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of this excitement and set up fake websites.

We recently spoke to Justin Moore of WKBW-TV in Buffalo about this:

Remember BBB advice when buying online: 

Know where you are.
 Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to pop up out of nowhere, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. BBB of Upstate New York recently worked with the Buffalo Sabres to take down a fake website. More here. Check out retailers at bbb.org before you shop.

Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL will start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.

More shopping advice is available at BBB.org. 

If you see any scams, please report them to BBB’s Scam Tracker by visiting BBB.og.



Dec 01

Why that gift exchange on Facebook could be a scam and is illegal

*Better Business Bureau is again getting reports of these posts on Facebook. BBB reminds everyone that while it may sound like a great idea, these types of exchanges can be scams and are illegal.*

Social Media

From Secret Sister to a wine exchange, that gift exchange on Facebook seems too good to be true. Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York says that while it may be tempting to jump in, it could lead to you getting scammed and at the end of the day, it is illegal.

Here’s what you might see on your Facebook feed:

A new twist to the "Secret Sister" gift scam is wine.

A new twist to the “Secret Sister” gift scam is wine.

Or this, the original post:

This is a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.

This is a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.

BBB did the research and according to the New York State Attorney General’s office, a pyramid scheme is “a fraudulent system of making money based on recruiting an ever-increasing number of  ‘investors,'” in this case, ‘sisters’ or ‘wine drinkers’ who recruit more people to participate.

Why it is illegal

This “gift exchange” is a twist on the old chain letter. Chain letters would come to your house, tell you to send a certain amount of money to the person at the top of the list, cross them off, then add your name to the bottom and send it along.  According to the United States Postal Service:  “Chain letters are a form of gambling, and sending them through the mail (or delivering them in person or by the computer, but mailing money to participate) violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute.”


  • Ignore the scam if it appears on your Facebook feed.

  • Never give out personal information to someone you don’t know.

  • Remember that participating is in fact, breaking the law.

  • Keep in mind that pyramid schemes do not work – not even when they are promoted by Facebook friends.

If you ever have a question about something you see on social media, feel free to call BBB at 800-828-5000 or check out BBB’s Scam Tracker. 




Nov 22

BBB, Community Partners support Small Business Saturday

Saturday, November 25th is the day to support Small Businesses for Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday started in 2010 by American Express, a BBB Accredited Business.

The goal is to encourage shoppers to support small, local businesses. Each year the message and movement get bigger.

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York is pleased to support Small Business Saturday for the sixth year and urges consumers to support small businesses in their community.

BBB’s Community Partners are working with businesses in their regions across Upstate New York to support Small Business Saturday.

Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce

Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce 

Chemung County Chamber of Commerce

Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce

Clarence Chamber of Commerce

Colonie Chamber of Commerce

Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce

Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce

Greece Regional Chamber of Commerce

Guilderland Chamber of Commerce

Lewis County Chamber of Commerce

Niagara USA Chamber

Southtowns Builders Association

Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce

West Seneca Chamber of Commerce 

Small Business Saturday by the numbers:

Number of Small Businesses: There are 23 million small businesses in the country.

Overall Sales: An estimated 112 million consumers reported shopping at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, marking a 13 percent increase from 2015.

Engaging Others: 81 percent reported encouraging friends and family to shop or dine small as well.

Local Support: Among those who shopped on the day, 32% reported attending a community event.

Social Media: November through the 26th, there were nearly 250,000 social media posts combined on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #ShopSmall, #SmallBizSat and/or #DineSmall.

Awareness: 72 percent of U.S. consumers now know about Small Business Saturday.

Remember, you can always look up your local businesses on our website at bbb.org.








Nov 17

Upstate New York 2017-2018 Giving Guide

UNY Giving Guide now available online.

‘Tis the season for giving and Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York’s 2017-2018 Giving Guide is a great resource to help you give wisely. The Guide can be accessed online and lists charities across Upstate New York

Download the Guide below.

UNY Giving Guide



Nov 10

Fake Aldi Coupon Going Around on Social Media

Internet scammers are again. This time, posing as Aldi, a well-known grocery store, trying to get people to click on a potentially harmful link. At first glance, it looks like a legitimate coupon:


fake aldi coupon

The company posted a warning on its Facebook page in response to the offer:

 Aldi response to fake coupon

There are several tell-tale signs of clickbait on a fake page/offer, including:

Poor grammar/spelling. Legitimate companies do not share posts on social media with spelling, capitalization, and common grammar errors.

Check the URL. Most legitimate companies have a very simple web address. If you hover over the hyperlink and the website address looks fishy, don’t click it.

Is the offer too good to be true? It probably is! Most companies don’t offer large discounts for free. While it would be nice, remember, the ultimate goal of the scammer is to get a hold of your personal information or access to your Facebook friends list or in some cases, access to your computer or device.

BBB recommends the following when it comes to avoiding clickbait on social media:

Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive” or “one time offer.” If it is too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.

When in doubt, check it out. Go to the retailer’s page or to the website to see if there is an offer there that looks identical to the offer on social media.

Don’t trust your “friends” online. It might not actually be your friends who are “liking” or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked and scammers could be using another tactic called “clickjacking” (Clickjacking is a technique that scammers use to trick you into clicking on social media links on which you would not usually click).

You can also use BBB’s Scam Tracker to see if the scam has been reported by someone else and to report it yourself.

Oct 24

BBB works with Buffalo Sabres, NHL to shut down counterfeit website

Site also used BBB’s logo fraudulently in an effort to dupe consumers.

Hockey season is here, and fans are always looking to get a great deal on their favorite players jersey or other gear from their team. A Buffalo Sabres fan filed a complaint with Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York recently about a website they thought was legitimate, until the product didn’t come and they had no way to contact the owners of the site.

The website, hockeysabresshop.com, passed itself off as “the official online store of the Buffalo Sabres.” Through our complaint process, we reached out to the owners of the website several times asking for more information about the company. A BBB investigation revealed the domain name hockeysabresshop.com is overseas and was using the BBB logo fraudulently.
counterfeit Sabres website
From the complaint: “Website looks professional until I realized payment was made through a 3rd party, there is no contact telephone number nor any physical address, the language in some of the descriptions is not proper English (poor grammar and punctuation).”

You can view the BBB Business Profile here.

BBB worked with the NHL and the Buffalo Sabres to shut the website down, through a Federal court order.

To avoid purchasing counterfeit products, BBB has the following advice:

  1. Shop in established stores and on reputable websites. Try to shop at the team’s own store or website or at an authorized retailer. If you are not familiar with a website or business, make sure to look it up at bbb.org first to see its rating, complaint history, and reviews from past customers.
  2. Ensure that any website where you’re shopping is legitimate: Hover over links, check that the spelling and grammar are professional, and double check the URL and logo. It’s easy for scammers to create a fake website imitating a brand in an attempt to phish consumers.
  3. Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. If you see an ad for an expensive item at a low price, be careful. It probably means it’s counterfeit. Don’t click on ads you see online, on social media or that come in an unsolicited email. Even if the email or ad is from a brand you’ve heard of, look up the URL independently because it may be phishing.
  4. Buy sports merchandise that’s officially licensed. You can find authentic licensed merchandise and official retailers and resellers on the official website of your favorite team or league. Authentic apparel will always have the correct fonts, colors and spelling, attached tags will usually have hologram stickers, and there won’t be any loose threads or other signs of poor quality.
  5. Make sure your transactions are secure. Don’t make a purchase unless you’re sure the transaction is secure. Businesses that sell counterfeit goods may also have poor security. Look for “https:”, where the “s” stands for secure, and other trust marks. Websites should also have a privacy policy.

The bottom line: trust your instincts. If you aren’t comfortable with any aspect of your purchasing experience, it’s better to just walk away. If you stumble upon a counterfeit website, let us know! Report the info to the brand owner, the authorities, and BBB Scam Tracker.



Sep 11

BBB Warning: Fake emails appear to be from BBB but contain harmful links

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York has received several Scam Tracker reports and phone calls regarding emails claiming to be a notice of a complaint from BBB. These emails are fraudulent and are phishing scams, attempting to gain your personal information or download harmful files to your computer.

These emails are being reported across North America and BBB has additional information and steps to take, which can be found here.

Below is an example of the emails:

fake bbb complaint emails are a phishing scam


Sep 08

BBB advice in the wake of the Equifax cyber security incident

Equifax, Inc. this week was the target of a cyber security incident. As a result, it could impact over 143 million people in the United States.

This website will show people if their information is part of the breach.

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York has some suggestions if you were affected by this cyber security incident:

Do not take a “wait and see” approach. Breaches involving personal information have the potential to be damaging victims and can be hard to fix.

Consider freezing your credit reports. Freezing your report doesn’t impact your current credit cards and accounts, rather it creates a roadblock for thieves who try to set up accounts using your information. Visit go.bbb.org/creditfreeze for more advice.

If your Social Security number is on the list you should place a fraud alert on your credit report. This step will provide an extra layer of protection in addition to the other steps listed.

Take advantage of any free credit monitoring services offered by Equifax. While this isn’t a preventive measure, it is another way to let you know about new accounts or inquiries so that you can act quickly to repair the damage.

Check your credit! You can get a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com to check for any unauthorized charges or other signs of fraud (NOTE: This is the only free credit report option authorized by the Federal Trade Commission).

Over 143 million people could be affected by this cyber security incident.


For more information and complete step-by-step guidance on repairing the damage caused by identity theft, visit the FTC’s identity theft resources.

Equifax set up a website with information about the breach: equifaxsecurity2017.com.


Sep 07

Join Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York for Secure Your ID Day 2017!

BBB Secure Your ID Day October 7, 2017

In 2016, 15.4 million Americans reported they were a victim of identity fraud, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. We know it only takes one misplaced personal document to give someone everything needed to steal your identity. BBBs across North America participate in this event each year to help eliminate these potentially damaging documents.

To help combat ID theft and educate the public on best practices to secure personal information, Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York partners with Shred-it, Tops Friendly Markets, AT&T, Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce, West Seneca Chamber of Commerce and Greater Baldwinsville Chamber of Commerce to offer free document shredding in the Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse areas October 7, 2017. The event is from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the following Tops locations:

Buffalo Area:
355 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca, New York 14224
3865 Union Road, Cheektowaga, New York 14225

Rochester Area:
3507 Mt. Read Blvd, Greece, New York 14616

Syracuse Area:
2265 Downer Street, Baldwinsville, New York 13027

BBB Secure Your ID Day 2017 | Paper Shredding

We invite everyone to bring up to three bags or boxes of old files and papers for on-site shredding. Volunteers from the partnering organizations will be on hand to assist and distribute safety tips.

BBB offers the following tips to protect your identity:

  • Check your credit reports regularly. You’re allowed one free credit report per year from each of the

three credit bureaus at annualcreditreport.com.

  • Monitor account statements to be sure you were the source for all activity.
  • Shred credit card applications and statements before throwing them away.
  • Never give out personal information.
  • Look for secured websites. Make sure the website has a locked pad icon and “https” in the URL.
  • Protect your PINs and other passwords and change them regularly.
  • Cut up credit cards before pitching them and limit the amount of cards you carry.
  • Consider opting out of pre-approved credit card offers, which can be stolen from your mailbox by

identity thieves.

  • Update your computer with the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software.
  • Sign up for the Do Not Call List at donotcall.gov.

For more information, please contact us at 800-828-5000.


Sep 07

National Grandparents Day is a great time to talk about scams

Sunday, September 10th is National Grandparents Day which is a great time to talk to the seniors in your life about scams.

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York works every day to inform the public about scams that target seniors, including the “Grandparent Scam.” It’s designed to fool seniors into thinking that their grandchild is hurt, arrested, or stranded and in need of money.

What is the Grandparents Scam?
Family emergency scams can happen to anyone because scammers are good at making up an urgent situation: “I’ve been arrested,” “I’ve been mugged,” “I’m in the hospital” — and target friends and family with pleas for help…and money. Oftentimes, scammers gear their pitch towards unsuspecting seniors with a plea that appears to be coming from their grandchild.

Do not reveal any information to scammers.

Why are seniors targets?
BBB says there are several reasons, including:
  • They are more likely to be at home to answer the phone or door,
  • They tend to be more trusting of others,
  • Some are lonely or susceptible to a friendly pitch, or
  • They may need the help being offered and just want to get a job done as quickly as possible – skipping necessary research.
BBB offers these steps that families can take to avoid scams:

Know the red flags. Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from a scammer posing as their grandchild. The “grandchild” explains that he or she is in trouble and needs help. The “grandchild” pleads to the grandparents not to tell his or her parents and asks that they send money to post bail, repair a car, cover lawyer’s fees, or even to pay hospital bills for a person the grandchild has supposedly injured in a car crash.

Stay calm. Emergency scams count on an emotional reaction. It’s important to resist the pressure to act quickly or react to a caller’s distress. Tell them you’ll call back and ask for a number. If the call involves a grandchild – contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate, and confirm the whereabouts of the grandchild.
Don’t disclose too much information. BBB advises everyone not to reveal any personal identifying information to solicitors. Scammers like to say, “It’s me, Grandma,” hoping to get a name out of the person. Don’t respond with a name, but let the caller explain who they are. People should also not share too much travel information on social media.
Avoid phone and email schemes. Let seniors know about phishing scams including calls or email solicitations claiming great deals or sob stories that need immediate action. Never respond at that moment, instead, take the information and check out the claims. Never give away personal or financial information to anyone without verifying you are dealing with a legitimate company.
Create a family code. One easy way to communicate and confirm someone’s identity is to have a code word. You ask a simple question that the family member would know such as the name of a cousin or pet. Be careful not to ask something identifiable via a social media profile (such as the name of the grandchild’s school).
Share information. Families should provide cell phone numbers and email addresses of friends they are traveling with in the case of an emergency, and family members should be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media.

Be careful at the front door. Scammers can spot exterior home repairs from the street. These repairs can be risky business if your senior family member doesn’t know or trust the contractor or business, so always check with BBB for a contractor’s BBB Business Profile.