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BBB: Avoid falling victim to summer scams

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Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau shared advice on how to protect yourself from scammers this summer. (WLS)

Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau shared advice on how to protect yourself from scammers this summer.

PRESS RELEASE

Moving Day Scammers are on The Move in May, BBB Warns to Know Your Rights and the Red Flags of Moving Scams

CHICAGO - May 10, 2016 - Half of all moves occur during one-third of the year - between the beginning of May and Labor Day; for consumers planning a move the number one rule when selecting a mover "do your homework". The BBB says, that simple step can go a long way toward protecting yourself against potential scams and fraud when changing your residence.

"There were 460 consumers who filed complaints against movers and moving and storage companies in the past 12 months. That number remains pretty consistent compared to previous years," says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Anyone can claim to be a mover, so checking a mover's credentials is critical and fortunately it's easy to do."

Bernas notes, "It's equally important for consumers to know their rights, and take necessary precautions before turning their belongings over to a mover."

The BBB offers the following checklist for finding a trustworthy moving company:

Research the company thoroughly. While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at minimum, be licensed by the federal government and are assigned a motor carrier number you can verify. Anyone can get a free BBB Business Review on movers from across North America, including ratings and complaint information at www.bbb.org/chicago.
Get at least three written in-home estimates. Not all price-quotes online or over the phone are legitimate. Keep in mind that the lowest estimate can sometimes be an unrealistic low-ball offer, which can cost you more in the end. Get free quotes from BBB Accredited Businesses at http://ask.bbb.org/
Know your rights.Research your rights as a consumer for interstate moves or for moves within Illinois. Also, enlist the help of BBB or local law enforcement if the moving company fails to live up to its promises or threatens to hold your belongings.
Consider getting full-value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it may provide some peace of mind and eliminate a headache after your move. Investing in full (replacement) value protection means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age.
Encounter problems. - File a complaint with the BBB at http://ask.bbb.org/ or the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA)
Bernas added, "The Chicago BBB had more than 82,000 inquiries about movers in the past 12 months. Those kind of numbers show that consumers do have many concerns when it comes to hiring a moving company."

The BBB also offers these tips for a smooth move:

Best days of the week to move are during the middle week - from Monday to Thursday - because most people plan their moves for the weekend.
Worst days of the week to move are on weekends - Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The reason: most people tend to move on weekends when they are not working. Weekend days can also cost more even if you make the reservation ahead of time.
Best day of the month to move is mid-month - on around the 15th.
Worst day of the month to move is on the 1st of the month. That's typically when everyone else is moving.

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

PRESS RELEASE

Scammers Spring Into Action As the "Unofficial" Start of Summer Begins Memorial Day Weekend

CHICAGO - May 24, 2016 - The BBB of Chicago and Northern Illinois is issuing this ALERT to warn consumers to watch out for Spring scammers. While it's still Spring, scammers use this weekend to launch a couple of key recurring problems that rip off consumers and rob legitimate businesses and charities of revenue.

ALERT for Fake Concert Ticket and Scam Veterans donation scheme's.

Memorial Day is upon us, a time to honor those who served and given their lives for our country, but "Con artists use Memorial Day as an opportunity to take advantage of caring people, especially elderly veterans," says Steve J. Bernas president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "They must remember to do their research and check the legitimacy of any business or charity they wish to support."

Consumers can check charity reviews at www.give.org and find concise tips on the "Truth About Charity and Giving Wisely".

Fake Concert Tickets, Even Fake Festivals - a REAL Problem

Another major summer problem that starts to Spring up around Memorial Day - FAKE TICKETS. BBB President and CEO Bernas adds, "History shows that another scam activity that tends to heat up with the warmer weather includes rip-offs like fake ticket sales." Counterfeit Tickets are becoming more lucrative and wide-spread with soaring ticket prices. Even Fake Festivals are popping up.

Beware of summer concert ticket scams. Before paying for concert tickets online, make sure the seller is reputable. Oftentimes, phony sellers will trick consumers into wiring money with no intention of sending real tickets. Most concert venues now allow ticket holders to print tickets from personal computers, which also gives scammers the opportunity to sell the same ticket over and over to unsuspecting consumers. Also consumers need to be wary of fake festivals and other events.
Some Scam Ticket and Scam Festival Insights:
You see a great deal on tickets to a summer festival in your city, usually through a social media link. For a reasonable entrance fee, the festival offers delicious food such as all-you-can-eat crabs, live music, and/or craft beer and wine. You click the link, and it takes you to a website to buy tickets. Just enter your credit card information, and you are set.

Don't do it! Better Business Bureaus across North America have reported fake festival sign-ups. Victims purchase tickets and show up at the time and location, only to find a crowd of frustrated ticket holders. Other times, the festival is real, but the tickets are fake.

Internet shoppers often find themselves deceived into jumping on sites with no connection to the actual event or venue.

Ticket Buyers and all consumers can search the BBB database of accredited businesses at no charge at "Ask BBB" http://ask.bbb.org/. A full database of all businesses and ratings can also be found on the main webpage at www.bbb.org - also like us on Facebook, follow us onTwitter and add us on Pinterest.

How to Spot a Fake Festival Scam:

Do your research before purchasing. Search online for the name of the festival and make sure the name advertised matches the website. Scammers often use names that sound similar to those of real festivals.
Check for (working) contact information: Be sure the festival website has a phone number and email address. Watch out for being rerouted to site with non-related names.
Prices too good to be true: There is no way a festival can offer tickets at extremely low prices without losing money. If the prices are much lower than elsewhere, it's likely a scam.

What Can You Do?

Pay with a credit card: You can dispute the charges if the business doesn't come through. Be wary of online sellers that don't accept credit cards.
Look for secure sites: The website should begin with https (the extra "s" is for secure) and have a little lock symbol on the address bar.
Avoid tickets sold on Craigslist and other free online listings: Scammers are skilled at providing realistic tickets and fake receipts. Check out third-party ticket sites at www.bbb.org before making purchases.

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at . The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

PRESS RELEASE

Students Risk Identity Theft and Other Scams during Summer Job Searches Warns the Better Business Bureau

CHICAGO - April 26, 2016 - With spring break behind them High School and College students turn to the next most important thing on their agenda, finding employment this summer. The Better Business Bureau warns now is the best time to begin that job search because waiting until late in the summer jobs season increases the risk of getting caught in a scam.

"Scammers know the longer students wait the more desperate they become and the easier it is for them to become victims," says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "When the job search turns to desperation, a great posting can seem promising, but it can also lead to trouble."

Bernas explains, "Falling for these scams, students can waste time, lose money, and open themselves up to identity theft."

The Better Business Bureau recommends that when job hunting, students think twice about getting involved with potential employers that:

Disseminate unprofessional materials- if you receive an email that has spelling errors, typos, misused words or bad grammar, it probably is not a legitimate email from the stated company and may not even be from an actual company at all.

Send out email from personal accounts - if a person contacts you from a personal email account, such as through Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo, do not give them your information. Most enterprises conduct business through a business email account.
Request personal contact information before sharing job information -if a person asks for your home mailing address, personal cell phone number or personal email account, do not provide that information except when completing a formal employment application.
Request sensitive financial or other personal information- never provide banking information, credit card information or your social security number over the phone or via email. A legitimate company will not ask you for this information until you are filling out hiring paperwork that will include federal and state documents.
Have new employees start working before filling out paperwork- when a company wishes to hire you, it will have you complete hiring paperwork and forms for tax purposes before you start to work.
Have employees expend their own money to conduct company business- never invest your money. You should not have to pay out of pocket to do your job or have to use your personal bank account to conduct company business.

To further avoid being scammed students should:

1. Check out the supposed employer carefully. Having what appears to be a legitimate website means nothing. Try a search using their name and the word "scam." Ask for a full address and landline phone number plus contact details of other employees. Also check their Business Review with the BBB at www.bbb.org/chicago.
2. Don't pay in advance for anything. Most, if not all, genuine employers would never ask for this - and certainly not until the final stages of a job offer. And never, wire payment to someone you don't know.
3. Read the fine print on any application form or job contract you receive.
For more information on scams, visit www.bbb.org/chicago, and like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or add us on Pinterest.

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

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