Jan 26

Protecting your credit cards

Even with credit card chip technology, protecting your credit cards from fraud is still important.

Niagara County Sheriff’s deputies are warning people about skimmers on credit card machines. 

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York wants everyone to keep their cards safe when using them at retail establishments.

What are skimmers?
Skimmers are card readers that can take your information fraudulently and get it in the hands of criminals.

Skimmers are commonly found on gas pumps and ATMs. Remember, if a card reader appears to have been tampered with, it’s best to not use it and let someone know.

What can you do? 

BBB has advice for protecting your credit card:
Credit Card Protection Info

There is a light at the end of the tunnel; Arrests were recently made in Genesee County. Read more here.

Jan 09

Looking to join a gym and get fit in the new year? BBB has advice

If you are looking to get fit and join a gym in the new year, you aren’t alone.

Each January, millions of people crowd into gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers. While it’s exciting to gear up towards a goal, Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York advises everyone to treat this like any major purchases. BBB received hundreds of complaints about gyms, fitness centers and health clubs across North America in the last two years.

2017 new years resolution is exercise calendar icon

Many complaints were related to contract issues. Remember, those who ask the right questions and read the fine print are more likely to be satisfied.

Five questions to ask the gym:

What are the terms of any introductory offers? Make sure you understand the terms and what price the service will be once the introductory period is over.

Will my membership renew automatically? Many times people join a gym but don’t consider what happens when the original contract runs out. Some gym contracts renew automatically unless they are canceled.

How can I get out of my contract?effect-of-leaving-gym-on-your-health

Getting out of any contract isn’t always as easy as getting into one. Make sure you understand what steps are necessary to cancel your contract.

What happens if I move? Gyms have any number of policies for what happens if you move. It might depend on how far away you’re moving and if they have affiliate gyms you could attend.

What happens if it goes out of business? Ask the gym to explain what will happen to your money if it goes out of business.

Five questions to ask yourself when looking at a prospective gym:

What are my fitness goals? Determining your fitness goals in advance will help you select the most appropriate facility for your needs. If you have a serious medical condition, consult a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.

Is this location convenient? If the gym is across town, you’ll be less likely to work out. Choose a fitness club that is convenient for you from work and home.

Can I really afford this? Monthly gym fees add up and after any introductory periods are over, the price could jump higher than your budget can handle. Do the math before you join and make sure you can afford the gym membership.

Am I feeling pressured to join? Do not give into high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facility, and make an informed decision.

Did I get everything in writing? Read the contract carefully and make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing. What matters is the document you sign, not what you heard.

For more information, visit bbb.org/gym.

 

 

Dec 07

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

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 in 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 computer, but mailing money to participate) violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute.”

 Remember: 

  • Ignore the scam if it appears in 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 every 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 23

Avoid being the victim of a snowplow scam!

Do you know how to avoid being the victim of a snowplow scam?

Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Upstate New York reminds everyone to do their homework before hiring a snow removal service. By doing so, you will know to be on the lookout for prices too good to be true, fly by night operations, and other red flags.

 

BBB urges everyone to keep these important tips in mind when hiring snow removal services:

Look for experience. Each home or business is different and experience does matter. Check to see if everyone who works for the company you hire has relevant experience, not just the owner.

Ask about scheduling. Some contractors do snowplowing as a part-time job, and this may affect their availability to clear a driveway when needed. Always check to see if there is a schedule for snow removal.

Get more than one estimate. BBB recommends you get at least three estimates before making a decision. Ask for all the costs upfront to avoid any surprises. Keep in mind the lowest price doesn’t always mean the best service.

Ask about insurance. Who is responsible for damage of your home or grounds during the winter season? Find out what type of insurance coverage potential contractors provide, as well as homeowner’s insurance. Does a municipality require the contractor to have a permit or license? Before you hire anyone, make some calls to find out and then check to make sure the contractor is appropriately covered.

Review the contract.  Never settle for a verbal agreement. Contractors should always provide a written contract. A representative should come out to look at the property and make notes about services requested and potential obstacles. Get all of the details in writing and always read anything before you sign. Understand cancellation fees and any extra charges that may apply.

Split the payments. Find out how the company expects payment. Most snow plow contracts take two forms: pay per plowing or pay per season. If you choose a pay per season contract in a light snow season, the contractor is not obligated to refund any money. If you’re expected to pay all fees upfront – consider it a red flag. Most contractors will split fees into two or three payments – one at the beginning, middle and end of the season.

Beware of scams. Remember even if a business appears to be reliable, it does not mean it is. When a company is reluctant to answer questions, won’t supply proper information or unwilling to offer references – there could be cause for concern.

Check with us. BBB provides background information, complaint history, and resolution to complaints in our Business Reviews. Check out snow removal services at bbb.org.

Report a scam. If you spot a business or offer that sounds like an illegal scheme or fraud, tell us about it through BBB’s Scam Tracker. BBB’s Scam Tracker provides information on trending scams in our area.

Nov 14

(Re) Discover “BBB Business Profiles” – more than just a name change

(Re) Discover our new look BBB Business Profiles this week
Whether you’re looking for a new car or your next contractor, pretty much everyone does research online before buying. Finding a trusted business online is now easier with bbb.org.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has worked with businesses and consumers to build an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other.

BBB offers free resources and information for more than 5.3 million businesses to help people make smart buying decisions and to avoid fraud and scams.

This is a sample of a new BBB Business Profile

This is a sample of a new BBB Business Profile

Trust matters
Each day, nearly half a million people go to bbb.org to look up businesses. BBB Business Profiles may have a new name and a new look, but the free information is all still there and easy to access. Each company’s BBB Business Profile includes:

  • Accreditation status

  • A company’s  BBB rating

  • Overview information

  • Customer Reviews

  • Complaints

  • Links to Request A Quote, File a Complaint, or Submit a Review

  • Map of business location

  • Pictures and videos from the business (if supplied)

  • Additional links to business’s social media pages, website, email, and phone numbers

Why BBB
BBB Business Profiles are a great resource for consumers to help them make wise purchasing decisions and build marketplace trust. As a nonprofit, BBB tries to report on all businesses and gives ratings when there is enough data for a company to earn a letter grade. Businesses may update their information or create a BBB Business Profile for free at updateyourinfo.org.

Before you make your next purchase, (Re) Discover for yourself how easy it is to access a business you can trust by using BBB Business Profiles.

 

 

Oct 13

Utility scam back in Upstate New York

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York is warning people that a utility scam is back. National Grid says scammers are targeting its customers.

An old phone scam is back.

An old phone scam is back

Scammers are demanding payment over the phone saying they will shut off service if you do not comply.

Utility companies do sometimes contact their customers by phone, which can make it difficult to tell if it is a legitimate call.

BBB offers the following tips:

If they ask you to pay with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer,that is a big red flag. Most utilities accept check or credit card payments and will usually direct you to a payment location.

If you aren’t sure if it is legit, do not give your any of your personal information. This includes credit card, debit card, Social Security, ATM, checking or savings account numbers.

If you feel pressured for payment or information, hang up and call the customer service number on your bill. That way, you know you are speaking to a real representative.

Don’t allow anyone in your home unless you scheduled an appointment or reported a problem. Also, don’t go outside to view broken meters or point out property lines. Always ask utility employees for proper identification.

If you have questions or concerns, you can always call BBB at 800-828-5000 or check out our Scam Tracker for the latest information.

Oct 11

Secure Your ID Day

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York hosted its annual Secure Your ID Day event on Saturday, October 8th.

Tops, Shred-It, and AT&T helped to make this event the largest it has ever been.

Over 1,700 people brought their old documents for free shredding and destruction.

Missed the event? Take a look at photos and videos shared by BBB of Upstate New York:

Oct 06

BBB shred day is this Saturday!

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York (BBB) shred day is this Saturday, October 8, 2016.

In 2015, 13.1 million Americans reported being a victim of identity fraud at the cost of $15 billion.

Did you know every two seconds someone steals an identity? BBB says the first rule of protection is if you don’t need it you should shred it – responsibly.

BBB of Upstate New York along with Tops Friendly Markets, Shred-It, and AT&T are hosting Secure Your ID Day on Saturday, October 8, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. across Upstate New York (Western New York, Rochester, and Central New York).

The community can bring up to three boxes or bags of old papers for on-site shredding. BBB and AT&T volunteers will give out safety tips.

 Click here for locations and times. 

 

Sep 30

Tech support scams reappear in Upstate NY

The tech support scam is back in Upstate New York. Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York’s Scam Tracker is receiving reports again of scammers pretending to offer tech support to unsuspecting users.

There are three types of tech support scams. The first is a phone call from a “specialist” at a computer company. The second type is a pop up on your computer, wanting you to call a number to fix the “problem” your computer has. Ransomware is the third type. These programs lock your computer and demand payment to release your files. Be careful not to give in to this request. You may be targeted again because the scammers know they have someone who will do what they say.

tech support

Never give out your passwords over the phone.

Reports to BBB’s Scam Tracker:

Monroe County: “Pop up window appeared while using Internet and advised me to contact Microsoft immediately about a security breach on my system. Phone number given was ***-***-**** which went to an answering machine. Pop up does not go away even after the system has been turned off and restarted.”

Albany County: “This ****** guy called me up two days ago and said “Hi, I am from Microsoft tech support. I wanted to let you know that our servers here at Microsoft are showing that your software needs special attention as there is a problem on your computer.” He then told me to hold down the Windows key on the keyboard and search for the letters “OSK” in the search bar and then follow his instructions so that he can gain access to my computer and fix the problem.”

Orleans County: “Computer screen froze and said to call certain number to free it up of all spyware and such. Finally resolved for one check for $499.99 and another for $395.95. Haven’t felt good about it since it happened yesterday.”

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York provides these tips to stay ahead of these scammers:

If you receive a tech support call:

  • Do not rely on caller ID to know who is calling. Scammers can spoof a name and number to hide their real identities.

  • Use bbb.org or a known company’s official website to get tech support information.

  • Never give out your password or allow remote access to your computer the phone.

If you think you downloaded a virus or ransomware:

  • Update or download security software from a legitimate provider and scan your computer.

  • Change all of your passwords. Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords.

  • If you get a pop-up, use Control-Alt-Delete to get rid of it. Do not click on the ad.

  • Watch your credit cards statements for unauthorized charges. You can call the card company to have the charges dropped.

Update: One of our staff received this message from Microsoft with the correct information to reach their tech support staff.

Hi Z***,

The error telling you to contact this number  888-255-8309 or else you will lose your files is a well known scam. The number of the said department is not from Microsoft since we use this 800-642-7676 for global support. Please do report any issue like this one to our report-a-scam page. The link is given below.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/getsupport?oaspworkflow=start_1.0.0.0&wfname=scamsurvey&locale=en-us&wa=wsignin1.0&ccsid=636111176160299103

Thanks for contacting Answer Desk.

Sep 28

New state law protects gift card purcasers

A law signed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo this week now better protects consumers from hidden fees and other penalties associated with gift cards.

Regulations on gift cards in New York State changed this week.

Regulations on gift cards in New York State changed this week.

Under the new law:

  • No fees after 13 months for cards with a balance; that time frame is now 25 months.

  • If you use the card within three years of the issue date, there are no fees.

  • Cards expire no earlier than five years from the date purchased.

  • There are also additional terms and conditions for replacing a lost or stolen card.

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York wants everyone to do their homework to maximize their gift cards.

  • Be cautious about buying gift cards from third parties or online auctions, because it is hard to tell whether the cards have any value remaining. Also, you may not be able to see if a card shows signs of tampering or if it is expired.

  • If you buy a gift card in store, make sure to check the packaging and any security seals.

  • Check the fine print to see if there are fees associated with the card, including a transaction or inactivity fees. In some cases, an organization may charge a service fee to issue the card.

  • See if the card has a hard expiration date.

  • Check the terms and conditions on the gift card. If you are giving a card

    to a friend who wants to shop online, make sure you can use the card online and in stores.

  • Consider the condition of the retailer or bank issuing the card. If you think the store may be on shaky footing, you may want to pass.

Older posts «

» Newer posts