Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tips When Donating to Charities

The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to give, but give wisely to charities.

Your BBB offers the following tips when donating to charities:

• Do not give cash; always make contributions by check or credit card and make your check payable to the charity, not to the individual collecting the donation.

• Never donated to a charity you know nothing about. Check out the organization with the Better Business Bureau at

• Don’t be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization.

• Don’t feel pressured into giving a donation and don’t be afraid to request additional information from the charity regarding its finances or programs.

• Keep records of your donations (receipts, canceled checks, and bank statements) so you can document your charitable giving at tax time. Although the value of your time as a volunteer is not deductible, out-of-pocket expenses (including transportation costs) directly related to your volunteer service to a charity are deductible.

• Be aware of claims that state “every penny will go to the charity.” All charities incur expenses. Make sure you know where you donation is going and who is benefiting from it; BBB/Wise Giving Alliance charity standards state that at least sixty-five percent of the organization’s total expenses should be spent on program activities. To see all twenty charity standards visit

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beware: The Truth About Wire Transfers

Money transfers can be convenient when you want to send funds to someone you know, like a trusted friend or relative. But money transfers are extremely risky when you’re dealing with a stranger or an unfamiliar business. Money transfers happen to be the preferred payment method of scammers. Why? Simply because wiring money is fast, irreversible and virtually untraceable.

A person may not be aware for days, sometimes even weeks that they have become victims of a scam. However, money sent by wire can be in the scammer’s hands in a matter of minutes and can’t be recalled. Typically, there’s no way to reverse a wire transfer once the money has been picked up and tracing where the money goes is nearly impossible. The receiver is not always required to show identification or even provide a verifiable mailing address or contact information. Scammers know they can pick up the money at virtually any location in the country so it’s just about impossible to pinpoint exactly where the scammers are operating in time to stop the transaction.

For more information on wire transfers, visit

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Auto repair and service

If you’re having car trouble or just looking for a business to perform routine maintenance, your BBB offers tips to find a reputable auto repair shop:

• Shop around before you need a mechanic to avoid being rushed into a last-minute decision.

• Ask friends, family, and other people you trust for recommendations.

• Get a free Reliability Report from your BBB on a specific business or request a list of all BBB Accredited auto repair businesses in the area.

• Check with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office or the Department of Consumer Services to see if the business has a record of complaints.

• Shop around by telephone for the best deal, and compare warranty policies on repairs.

• Ask to see current licenses.

• Make sure the shop will honor your vehicle’s warranty.

• Look for shops that display various certifications - like an Automotive Service Excellence seal. Certification indicates that some or all of the technicians meet basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certifications are current, but remember that certification alone is no guarantee of good or honest work.

• Ask if the technician or shop has experience working on the same model vehicle as yours.

When considering parts to be repaired or replaced, it’s important to understand parts’ classification:

• New: Parts are made to the original manufacturer’s specifications, either by the vehicle manufacturer or an independent company.

• Remanufactured, rebuilt and reconditioned: These terms generally mean the same thing - parts have been restored to a sound working condition. Many manufacturers offer a warranty covering replacement parts, but not the labor to install them.

• Salvage: These are used parts taken from another vehicle without alteration. Salvage parts may be the only source for certain items, but their reliability is seldom guaranteed.

For additional information you can trust, start with

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Shred It and Forget It

Free Shredding Services Saturday, September 11 at the West Suburban Bank in Downers Grove

Each year more than 8 million Americans fall victim to identity theft, according to a Javelin survey, losing over $40 billion. But now there's a free way you can protect yourself from ID thieves. You can "Shred It and Forget It."

To an identity thief, one person's trash can literally become another person's stolen treasure. By going through garbage cans and diving through dumpsters, thieves dig out documents with valuable information from names and social security numbers to bank and credit card information.

"If you're putting your personal or business information in the trash, there's a chance that somebody's going to get a hold of that and use it for purposes you don't intend," Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois President & CEO Steve J. Bernas said. "One of the most popular schemes among these low-tech identity thieves is finding pre-approved credit card offers in the trash."

A free shredding event will be held on Saturday, September 11 from 9AM-2PM at the West Suburban Bank, 2800 Finley Road in Downers Grove.

Hosts of the annual event include the Better Business Bureau along with the West Suburban Bank, Federal Trade Commission and United States Postal Inspection Service.

This shredding service is FREE. The Better Business Bureau and its partners are hosting Shred It and Forget It – up to ten boxes of papers shredded per person.

For more information go to

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