A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: Getting a barrage of robocalls? Technically there may be a solution coming

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau The rise of complaints from consumers and businesses alike about the barrage of robocalls has reached a feverish pitch. As a result, the Federal Communications Commission and cell phone carriers across the nation have released the Caller Verified Program. This reactive measure is to help reduce the number of spam callers and robocalls, as scammers have improved...

BBB Trends: Unsettled weather? Beware of lurking storm chasers — don’t let emotions get best of you

Storm chasers are people who follow severe weather hoping to get business from victims whose homes have been damaged by storms. They follow weather reports and sometimes will arrive in town before the storm even hits and are ready to pounce as soon as the weather breaks. After the storm hits, they’ll target areas hardest hit by damage because they “just so happen” to notice the homes have storm...

BBB Trends: Time for some very important spring cleaning — Clean out your digital data

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau If your closet is feeling a little cluttered, imagine the ‘stuff’ that’s on your digital device? Perhaps the cleaning bug has bit and fortunately, springtime is a great time to add “digital spring cleaning” to your to-do list. There are several easy steps that everyone can do that will go a long way in tidying up digital disorder. Keep a Clean Machine Update...

BBB Trends: Read, understand tax-refund loans — Is it worth it? What if your tax filing is wrong?

If you are one of the few who hasn’t filed your taxes yet, be on the watch for advertisements with a tempting offer: “file your taxes with us, and we’ll give you an advance on your return.” Some ads target consumers in need of loans to buy a car or pay off debt. BBB received more than 3,550 against tax return preparation businesses across the United States and Canada in 2018. Common...

BBB Trends: Employment scams top the list for 2018, representing a $50 billion drain on the economy

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau Marketplace scams represent a $50 billion drain on the U.S. economy, robbing consumers and legitimate businesses alike. Scams have a negative impact on one in four households and one in five individuals each year. These thieves masquerade as trusted brands, erode consumer confidence in the marketplace and often hide on the internet. Last year, people in the U.S....

BBB: Elder financial abuse continues to increase, yet still goes underreported; quadrupled in four years

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau 
Financial institutions are seeing an increased number of older customers fall prey to financial crimes by perpetrators ranging from offshore scammers, close family members to caregivers. Yet, many of these incidents go unreported or remain unknown to family, friends or relatives when a financial crime happens. According to the Consumer Financial Protection...

BBB Trends: National Consumer Protection Week coming up, designed to help you know your rights

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau Are you looking to protect yourself from fraud or identity theft? Maybe you heard something on the news about a scam but didn’t catch the whole story? Perhaps you’re wondering about the best way to establish credit, shop for a used car, or maximize your security online. There is conflicting information on multiple websites, so it may be difficult to determine...

BBB Trends: Get a call from an Unknown Number? Leave it alone — this is still the best advice

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau When was the last time you received a phone call from someone you actually wanted to hear from? Or, the phone number on the Caller ID was from a person or place that you recognized? Experts are saying cell phone owners are drowning in a sea of robo-calls: U.S. phones were inundated with 26.3 billion robo-calls last year, that’s a 46% increase from the 18 billion...

BBB Trends: Let me call you sweetheart anytime of the year — but don’t be heartbroken by a scammer

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau Online dating and matchmaking apps have made it easier than ever to meet new people and find a date – but that means they’ve made scammers’ work simpler too. Technology like this allows scam artists to create compelling backstories and fully-fledged identities in order to trick victims into helping someone who doesn’t even exist. It’s the basic framework...

BBB Trends: Check out home remodeling shows for ideas on your updates, but read contracts carefully

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau Home remodeling shows highlight the latest and greatest must-have features to update any living space. Homeowners attending remodeling expos should plan to listen to presenters and pick up contact information from potential contractors – not go in with the intent to hire someone on the spot. After returning from the show, sift through the information, select...

BBB: Government shutdown doesn’t slow down imposters; as watchers aren’t watching, be careful!

The recent Federal Government shutdown is impacting agencies consumers and businesses depend on. Until a resolution is announced, a number of services provided by the FTC, the SBA, and the IRS are unavailable to the public. It also allows an opportunity for scammers posing as a government agency and phish for personal information, so watch out for bogus phone calls, emails, and text messages during...

BBB: Returning gifts? Be timely — and check the store’s return policies; return frauders are at work too

Did you receive a sweater for Christmas that’s too small?  Three copies of the same movie on DVD?  Chances are you will be among those who are now trying to return or exchange gifts at retailers this week. Better Business Bureau® serving Central & Eastern Kentucky reminds you that sellers have policies in place to protect their businesses from “return fraud” as well as make customers...

BBB Trends: A look back to look forward — but both ways, there are still scams to be aware of

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau As the year comes to a close, now is the time that many people look back and reflect on all that happened in order to get ready for the year ahead, and BBB is no different. Unfortunately, scammers stay the same from year to year and will continue to work to steal important information from people. To help consumers deter them, BBB has compiled scam information...

BBB Trends: Naughty, not nice — watch for scammers (the Scrooges!) this holiday season

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau The 2018 holiday season is here and with it comes an abundance of activities – like trimming trees, decking the halls, and plenty of to-do lists. This provides scammers plenty of perfect opportunities to use people’s distraction for their own gain. Some scam artists got an early start, swapping out UPC codes on the backside of gift cards with fake ones...

BBB Trends: Protect your holiday packages from being stolen; porch pirates threaten holiday cheer

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau Online shopping is a great time saver during the holiday season but the shipped packages left on the doorstep provide a great opportunity for theft. According to insurancequotes.com, 26 million Americans have had holiday packages stolen from their homes since 2015. This often happens because people aren’t home when items are delivered, allowing thieves...

BBB Trends: All is calm, all is bright — but here are a few tips to keep at lease some control of the chaos

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau The hectic pace of the holidays is here. With it comes to do lists, family visits, holiday shopping, and get-togethers with friends. It’s also a time when our attention gets diverted away from checking important little details like our how our personal information is being used, what wi-fi connection we’re using and not quite checking out charity requests....

Central Kentucky computer users targeted by phone scammers to steal money, personal information

Central Kentucky computer users are being targeted by a phone scam claiming that they are owed “refunds” by well-known computer technical support companies. The calls are really from scammers trying to steal money and personal information. A Fleming County woman tells Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky that she received a phone call saying she was being billed $499...

BBB Trends: Don’t cash that check! Fake check schemes are on the rise — be cautious

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau People are writing fewer checks in this era of electronic financial transactions. Despite this, fake check scams are on the rise. Fake checks are used in a variety of frauds, from employment scams to prize and sweepstakes fraud. In all reported cases of check fraud, victims deposit the check and send money back to scammers. Complaints to regulatory agencies...

BBB Trends: Nanny job may sound too good to be true; scammers could be trying to get your money

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau The school year has begun and for many families, it may be necessary to find a babysitter or nanny to ease the pressure of a hectic schedule. If you’re in the market for such a job, be wary of the posting descriptions that sound promising. The posting may read as a family seeking a nanny offering a great salary with wonderful working conditions. For example,...

BBB Trends: Robocalls, spoofing and smishing are on the rise — what it is and what to do

By Sandra Guile Special to KyForward Does it seem like there are more robocalls and spoofed numbers appearing on your cell phone lately? On average, 112 million of these calls are placed per day or 1,297 calls placed per second to the more than six billion smartphones in circulation. As if your phone didn’t buzz enough, 15.2 million text messages are sent around the world per minute. Of those, 90...