Mar 04

BBB and the Buffalo Home Show

Spring is just around the corner, which means it’s home show season in Upstate New York!

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York is proud to be a sponsor of the 2016 Buffalo Home Show.

Come see us at the information desk.

home show

Visit us at the information booth!

Our Accredited Businesses are also at the Buffalo Home Show.

home show

If you want more information about the Buffalo Home Show, click here.

 

For discounted tickets, click here.

 

 

Share

Mar 01

Know the signs of an online rental scam

Is that apartment a dream come true, or an online rental scam?

You’re searching for an apartment online and you spot one that looks awesome…but there are no photos and the owner lives out of town. The owner asks to you wire money for your security deposit.

You think to yourself: Is this a huge find, or a scam?

A Buffalo woman recently told WIVB TV that she lost $800 from a Craigslist rental scam. She wired the money to a “landlord” out of state, but it turns out that person didn’t even own the property. WKBW-TV reported a new variation in the rental scam. The scammer contacts a legitimate listing and pretends to be interested in renting the property. They gain the access to the property but instead, use it to show the property to potential victims.

Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker shows close to 160 rental scams reported across the country, some right here in Upstate New York. Some people report losing over $3,000.

Do you know the warning signs?

rental scam

Big sign For Rent in front of townhouses

BBB has the following tips for people looking for an apartment online: 

The ad doesn’t have photos. It’s possible that a normal ad may not have pictures. But if the ad describes fabulous amenities, where are the pictures to show off the property?

The contact information does not include a phone number. Scam postings usually only provide an email address. If the email address looks like a string of consonants, the poster is using auto-generated email accounts so that they can’t be tracked.

The price is *too* cheap. If the ad offers extra benefits such as free heat or electricity, low or no security deposit, those should be red flags.

Credit check not required. A credit check is common step in renting an apartment. Be wary of a listing that says “no credit check!” or encourages people with bad credit or prior evictions to apply.

The address is never revealed. If the “landlord” is making you jump through hoops before telling you where the property is located, there’s a good chance that it does not exist.

If you suspect a rental scam, visit BBB’s Scam Tracker to report it.

Share

Feb 26

Grandparents scam warning

The grandparents scam is back.

“Grandma, it’s me! I’m in trouble!” If you get a call like this, chances are it’s scam.

A recent article from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle says the Monroe County Sheriff’s office is warning the elderly about the scam. They say the scammers are asking for iTunes gift cards in exchange for getting their grandchild out of trouble.

Makes sure your grandparents or loved ones know when anyone is traveling

Makes sure your grandparents or loved ones know when anyone is traveling

While the grandparents scam isn’t new, those calling are always changing the method of payment. This is the second report Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York has seen with the request for iTunes gift cards. In January, a report out of Chautauqua County to BBB’s Scam Tracker shows a similar scam with the same request.

BBB has tips to avoid the grandparents scam:

Know the red flags. Typically, the grandparent receives a frantic phone call from a scammer posing as a grandchild. The “grandchild” explains that he or she is in some kind of trouble and needs help. The “grandchild” pleads to the grandparents not to tell his or her parents and asks that they wire thousands of dollars for reasons such as posting bail, repairing a car, covering lawyer’s fees or even paying hospital bills.

Stay calm. Scammers are hoping for an emotional reaction. It’s important to resist the pressure to act quickly or react to the caller’s distress. Tell them you’ll call back and ask for a number; then contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate, and confirm the whereabouts of the grandchild.

Ask a personal question, but don’t disclose too much information. If a caller says “It’s me, Grandma!” don’t respond with a name, but instead let the caller explain who he or she is. One easy way to confirm their identity is to ask a simple question that the grandchild would know such as what school he or she goes to or their middle name. Your family might consider developing a secret code or password that can be used to verify a true emergency.

Do not wire money. Wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you can’t get it back. If you are asked to wire money based on a request made over the phone, especially to locations overseas, consider it a serious red flag. Always make certain of the recipient’s identity before using a wire service or pre-paid debit cards.

Communicate. Families should share travel plans with relatives before leaving the state or country. Parents are encouraged to let extended family members know when their child is traveling.

Share information. Students should provide cell phone numbers and email addresses of friends they are traveling with in the case of an emergency. Family members should remind students to be cautious when sharing details about travel plans on social media.

Share

Feb 17

Click bait continues

Another day, another Facebook click bait scam is making the rounds, this time it’s a fake Southwest Airlines offer.

Facebook recently removed the page.

BBB of Upstate New York recently warned everyone about clickbait on social media.

It’s a great reminder to check before you click! 

We managed to grab some screenshots of the click bait Southwest promotion:

Click bait

Southwest “offer” on Facebook

 

This is NOT Southwest Airlines' page

This is NOT Southwest Airlines’ page

 

 

real southwest

This is the REAL Southwest Airlines page (note the blue checkmark, which means it is verified by Facebook)


BBB recommends the following when it comes to social media promotions
:

Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions of “exclusive,” “shocking” or “sensational” footage. If it sounds too outlandish to be true, it is probably a scam.

Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, mouse over the link to see where it will take you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.

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.)

 

 

 

Share

Feb 10

Scam Tracker now local

scam tracker map

Scam Tracker allows people to report scams. Now, it’s tracking the local trends. By clicking on the map, people will now be able to see scam trends being reported to Better Business Bureau right in their neighborhood.

A quick look at trending scams around here:

1. Tax collection aka IRS scam-people are reporting to Scam Tracker threatening messages from the “US Treasury.” Many say the person calling says his name is “Steve Martin.” Remember, the IRS will never call you.

2. Tech support- also, people are reporting on Scam Tracker that someone calls saying there is a problem with their computer. If a message pops up on your computer, turn it off and call a reputable computer repair company. Do not give the scammer any access to your computer.

3. Debt collection-caller tells you that you owe a debt. Some report being threatened with court action or arrest.

Remember, debt collectors may not:

  • Use threats of violence or harm against the person, property, or reputation

  • Publish a list of people who refuse to pay their debts (except to a credit bureau)

  • Use obscene or profane language

  • Use phone calls to repeatedly harass you

  • Fail to identify themselves on the telephone Advertise your debt

  • Threaten arrest if you do not pay your debt

  • Say they will take things from your or garnish your wages

  • Say a lawsuit is being filed if it isn’t

  • Collect any amount more than what you owe

    Deposit a post-dated check prematurely

  • Use false statements when collecting a debt.

More information on debt collection can be found here.

Here are the Top 10 Scams of 2015. All of the information was collected from Scam Tracker. You can use it as a reference if you get a weird phone call or email that you think is a scam, please report it to us by clicking here. 

Top Scams 2015

 

Share

Feb 08

The Torch Award winner is…

Catholic Charities of Buffalo is the 2015 Torch Award for Philanthropic Excellence winner. A reception was held at the organization’s office on Delaware Ave. in Buffalo.

“It is a completely rewarding process to see the commitment our charitable organizations make to serve their communities; not only through their programming but by the commitment they make to transparency and strong management and leadership disciplines,” said Warren Clark, BBB president.

torch award

BBB Upstate New York President Warren Clark speaks while BBB Upstate New York Foundation Director Shawn Schofield displays the Torch Award

“This prestigious award is a concrete affirmation to our supporters, donors and the people we serve that Catholic Charities will continue to meet and exceed best practice standards as a quality service and charitable organization,” said Dennis Walczyk, CEO of Catholic Charities.

torch award

BBB Foundation of Upstate New York presents the Torch Award to Catholic Charities of Buffalo

Proud of the honor, Catholic Charities created a new sign out in front of the building. torch award

Congratulations to Catholic Charities of Buffalo! Please visit BBB Foundation of Upstate New York’s website for more information on programming.

Share

Feb 02

How to spot clickbait

You see your friends sharing too good to be true coupons, but do you know how to spot clickbait on Facebook?

From free airline tickets, to gift cards and free Disney trips, Better Business Bureau gets calls from people who see the clickbait in their Facebook newsfeeds.

You may think it is from a company or someone you trust, which makes it more likely that you will click the link. Just yesterday, people were clicking on and sharing what looked like a coupon from Wegmans. The company said in a statement that the coupon is a fake.

Earlier this month, some people saw what looked like an offer for free tickets to Disney World. That turned out to be a fake, too.

clickbait

The top photo is the real Walt Disney World

Facebook pages with the name Walt Disney-World popped up, telling people to click and share to enter to win.

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.

Is the page verified? Do you see a blue checkmark next to the name? That means the page has been verified by Facebook to be authentic. The real Walt Disney World page has over 15 million likes and is verified by Facebook.

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

Is the offer too good to be true? It probably is! Saving hundreds of dollars on groceries or paying next to nothing for a trip or airfare aren’t common occurrences. 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.

Did you see this “coupon” for Dick’s Sporting Goods? It’s also a scam, which was confirmed by the company.

clickbait

Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York offers the following advice to avoid any issues with clickbait:

Don’t take the bait. Stay away from promotions that sound too good to be true.

Hover over a link to see its true destination. Before you click, put your mouse over the link to see where it takes you. Don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.

Confirm before you trust your “friends” online. It might not actually be your friends who are “liking” or sharing scam posts. Their account may have been hacked and scammers.

Report any suspected scam posts on Facebook by following these instructions.

 

Share

Feb 01

Facebook scam alert

Another Facebook scam is going around. This time, people are sharing a link for a $200 grocery coupon from Wegmans.

wegmans scam

This is an example of the fake Wegmans offer on Facebook

This is what people see when they click on the link.

An alert from CNYCentral.com says a Wegmans representative has confirmed this is fake. 

We’ve seen this before. Most recently, with Dick’s Sporting Goods.

To avoid falling victim to “click bait” or other spam offers on Facebook:

Check the URL. This was the URL for the Wegmans offer:

wegmans url

This is NOT the correct website for Wegmans

Wegmans URL is wegmans.com.

Don’t click on a Facebook link before checking it out independently. Hover over a link to see its true destination.  Also, don’t click on links leading to unfamiliar websites.

If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Con artists often use names of legitimate and popular companies or organizations to help lend credibility to a scheme. They will create an offer that is especially appealing to a large amount of people.

Attempting to claim a fake offer will likely prompt you to answer spam surveys, trick you into entering usernames, passwords and personal information or to download a program which could contain a virus.

When in doubt, check with BBB or head over to our Scam Tracker tool. 

Share

Jan 29

Customer Reviews: Good for businesses!

Customer Reviews are a huge part of your BBB Business Review. All reviews submitted to BBB are verified by BBB staff, meaning that the person reviewing your business used your services. Businesses with customer reviews are 204 percent more likely to be viewed as offering quality products or services and 199percent more likely to be viewed as caring about their customers.

Your customers should be encouraged to submit reviews because it helps their peers make a decision. In a recent study, 92 percent of consumers read reviews to determine quality of a local business.  Eighty percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Customer reviews are frequently being used to research more types of businesses than ever before. Use this knowledge to your advantage, and remind customers of the value of a review.

Click here to read more about BBB Reviews.

customer reviews

Share

Jan 28

IRS scam calls continue

IRS Scam

Do you know the warning signs of a tax scam?

The IRS scam is more prevalent than ever. As people gather their W-2 and other documents to file their taxes, Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York knows scammers are ready to try and take advantage.

BBB reports the IRS scam is number one for 2015, according to Scam Tracker. Of the first 10,000 reports processed by BBB, 24 percent were the IRS scam. For the Upstate New York service area, it was 19.8 percent.

Here are the two common tax scams to avoid:

Phone calls. People are consistently reporting to BBB that they received calls from “IRS representatives” who claim they owe taxes and must pay or be arrested. At this time, the IRS will never call you, only send you a letter.

Email phishing. The subject “you are to update your IRS e-file immediately” is a scam. If you get one of these messages, do not respond or click on the links. Forward the email to the IRS.

There are other ways you can lose money this tax season: 

Say no to refund advances.  It could mean high-interest rates and it doesn’t get you your refund faster. Beware of “prepaid” lines of credit, too. If you go for either, you’re giving away some of your refund to a money lender. Do not use a tax preparation services that promises larger refunds than the competition, and avoid tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.

When looking for a tax preparer, ask around. Get referrals from friends and family. Click here for a list of accredited tax preparers in Upstate New York. 

If you file your own taxes, use BBB’s checklist:
• E-file only from secure computers (no unsecured WiFi)
• Don’t file taxes from a link in an email
• Mail tax returns from the post office
• Shred old tax returns after 7 years of the filing date.

Share