Monday, November 28, 2011

FTC Adds New Protections for Consumers Seeking to Work from Home

The FTC has finalized a new rule to protect consumers with additional disclosure requirements for work-at-home programs/business opportunities. The new rule will be effective March 1, 2012. You can read more below. If you have any ABs in this category it might will be important they be able to meet the new requirements outlined by the FTC. 

The final Rule requires business opportunity sellers to give consumers specific information to help them evaluate a business opportunity. Sellers must disclose five key items of information in a simple, one-page document:

  • the seller's identifying information;
  • whether the seller makes a claim about the purchaser's likely earnings (and, if the seller checks the "yes" box, the seller must provide information supporting any such claims);
  • whether the seller, its affiliates or key personnel have been involved in certain legal actions (and, if yes, a separate list of those actions);
  • whether the seller has a cancellation or refund policy (and, if yes, a separate document stating the material terms of such policies); and
  • a list of persons who bought the business opportunity within the previous three years.

Monday, November 14, 2011

BBB Speaks Out Regarding Rogue Web Sites

Rogue websites are often designed to deceive consumers into believing they are legitimate by replicating popular brands or trademarks that are from respected businesses and entities. However, these sites are often run by criminals who sell shoddy, fake or replicated products that can in many cases endanger consumers’ health and safety.

Moreover, consumers who share sensitive personal and financial information with these sites are exposed to an increased risk of falling victim to other malicious online activity such as phishing scams, identity theft, or viruses.

Before you purchase, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers a few online shopping tips:

1. Trust your gut – Offers on Web sites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them more in the end.

2. Use trustworthy Web sites – Shoppers should start with the BBB to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Always look for a “trustmark” from BBBOnLine and click on that seal to confirm that it’s valid. If the company is unfamiliar to you, do your homework before buying their products. Reliable companies should also advertise their physical business address and at least one phone number.

3. Protect your personal information – The BBB recommends taking the time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. When placing an order, there is certain information that you must provide to the web merchant such as your name and address. Providing your Social Security number is also not a requirement for placing an order at an e-commerce Web site.

Before making any purchase decisions, visit

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Watch Out for Discount Gift Card Scams

It’s not Black Friday yet, but some of us have already started our pre-holiday shopping. Gift cards can be great present, they let the recipient get something they want, and still show them you are thinking of them because it may be from their favorite store or restaurant. Recently, the BBB received a complaint about a gift card scam on Craigslist.

Here’s what happened: The consumer saw a $1,000 card advertised for $750. She met with the seller and called the number on the card to verify there really was $1,000 on it. She handed over $750 to the seller. The next day, when she went to use the card, there was no money on it. And the scammer was gone.

How it works:

• It could be a faked duplicate card.

• The scammer could have switched cards when the consumer wasn’t looking.

• The scammer might have made an online transaction just minutes before meeting with the consumer. When the woman checked the card balance via phone, the automated machine read the balance before the transaction.

Always listen to your intuition. If you feel there’s something sketchy about the seller, then don’t buy. As in most cases, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If somebody’s selling a $100 gift card on Craigslist for $20, you’ve got to ask why. The safest way to avoid gift card scams is to always purchase gift cards directly from the store.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to Research a Company Before You Apply

For those of you seeking employment, the internet is a great tool for searching job listings. If you come across a company you are unfamiliar with, it’s important to do your research on how credible this company is before you give out any personal information.

Doing your homework on a company can include:

• Checking with and other trusted sites

• Googling the company name plus the word “scam”

• Verifying with the IRS, and the Secretary of State where the business is located

• Asking your state Attorney General’s office if the business is on their radar for any reason

• Searching the Internet for the company’s physical location or checking with the Post Office to see if this is a legitimate address

• Never click on a link from an unknown sender, and never give out your personal information to strangers unless you can verify their legitimacy

If you take these steps and find that you are dealing with a legitimate company, then you can proceed with the application process. However, if the company turns out to be a scam, you’ll be happy you did your homework and avoided wasting your time, and potentially having your identity stolen.

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