Be aware of a new scam hitting consumers and businesses in which the BBB's name is being used in order to collect consumer and business information. We believe these scam calls are likely to result in you receiving further telemarketing calls or potentially having your personal or business identity stolen.
Several individuals have reported they were contacted over the phone by someone claiming they were with the Better Business Bureau. The businesses were told that the BBB was updating their information, and in some instances, businesses that were contacted were asked to verify if they were moving locations.
In a similar issue reported in the United States, consumers were told they had won a Better Business Bureau lottery and in order to receive the prize, they must first wire money to continue.
Consumers and businesses should think twice when giving out any information or sending money to a stranger – even if the name sounds legitimate. Scammers often use familiar or well-established names in order to gain trust, which poses a real danger to the public.
How to Protect Your Business
Make sure the story checks out. Always confirm the facts directly with the organization the representative claims to be from—whether it’s Better Business Bureau or any other organization. Use contact information that you found on your own from the organization’s website; don’t rely on phone numbers or web links provided by the representative. Scammers often pretend to be from legitimate businesses or non-profits and a quick call directly to the organization can help set the record straight.
BBB does call businesses, but is transparent unlike scammers. The Better Business Bureau will contact Accredited Business members by phone, but they will freely offer all their contact information during the call. Take down the person’s information and offer to call them back once you verify who they are.
How to Protect Yourself
Never pay money to get money. Lottery scammers make their money by convincing victims that they have to pay money up front—to cover such costs as taxes or fees—in order to receive their winnings. Because it is extremely difficult for the victim to track or retrieve money sent via wire transfer, scammers will often use this as their payment method of choice.
Do not pay to collect your winnings. Legitimate sweepstakes or contests don't require up front tax payments, or charge insurance, delivery or other fees to collect a prize.
Don’t fall for the phony cheque. Scammers will often send a cheque in the mail to the victim with the instructions that—in order to receive the full prize—he or she must deposit the cheque and wire back a portion of the funds to cover fees or taxes. This gives the victim a false sense of security because the cheque will clear initially, but eventually be discovered as a fake. The money is then taken out of the victim’s account and he or she is out the funds sent to the scammer.
If you have been contacted by someone posing as a Better Business Bureau employee, contact your local BBB and report the incident. If you are located on Vancouver Island visit vi.bbb.org or call 250.386.6348 (or toll free 1.877.826.4222).