• December 3, 2020

Odessa American: BBB Column

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BBB: Better Business Impact Report

Online retail has become more important than ever in the face of COVID-19. Online shopping has become a convenient way to shop while staying safe. A recent report from BBB examines the e-commerce industry and how small businesses can become a part of this trillion dollar industry.

More From Top Story

Sunday 11/01/2020
BBB: Beware of open enrollment scams
Posted: November 01, 2020 - 5:15 am

Open enrollment for Medicare has begun, and open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is close behind, beginning Nov. 1. BBB Scam Tracker has received dozens of reports of healthcare scams from consumers since September 2020, stating they received calls and recorded messages from scammers claiming they can help you navigate your insurance options.

Sunday 10/25/2020
BBB: Spooktacular Halloween tips
Posted: October 25, 2020 - 5:15 am

Dealing with COVID-19 in 2020 has been more trick than treat. The pandemic has forced us to adjust our everyday lives, cancel plans and wonder how to observe upcoming holidays safely. With Halloween approaching, and local governments encouraging social distancing over social gatherings, many are looking for creative new ways to enjoy fall festivities.

Sunday 10/18/2020
BBB: Internet safety tips during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Posted: October 18, 2020 - 5:15 am

The Internet has become a significant part of our everyday lives, allowing us to work, socialize and shop online. Unfortunately, cybercriminals also benefit from that same convenience and accessibility. That’s why the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) team up each October for National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart,” which emphasizes the importance of individuals taking steps to protect themselves online.

Sunday 10/11/2020
BBB: Wise giving during Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Posted: October 11, 2020 - 5:15 am

Every October, countries across the world observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month to increase support and awareness of this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), breast cancer is the second most common cancer among U.S. women. In Texas alone, nearly 17,000 new cases of breast cancer were reported in 2017. Unfortunately, there is no cure, and funds are needed to continue research.

Sunday 10/04/2020
BBB study: Virtual vehicle vendor and escrow scams
Posted: October 04, 2020 - 5:15 am

Used car sales — and scams involving vehicles — have surged during the pandemic. Buyers shop for a used car online and ask to see it in person, but the seller uses COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid meeting. The buyer sends the money to purchase the car, but it never arrives.

Sunday 09/27/2020
BBB: Heater repair tips
Posted: September 27, 2020 - 5:15 am

Autumn is here, and while the Texas heat is still lingering, it’s never too early to prepare for cooler weather. You may decide to purchase a brand-new unit ahead of winter or tune up your current one. Either way, doing your research is key to saving yourself stress and frustration in the future.

Sunday 09/20/2020
BBB: Tips for buying a car
Posted: September 20, 2020 - 5:15 am

The end of the year is a popular time to buy cars, as prices go down to make room for the new year’s models. As 2020 slowly makes its way to 2021, more consumers are preparing to purchase their new vehicle. The car buying process can be overwhelming and difficult. In 2019, new and used car dealers ranked fifth and ninth respectively in complaints to BBB Serving the Heart of Texas. In 2020, both industries have risen to fourth and seventh respectively.

Sunday 09/13/2020
BBB: Celebrating Grandparents Day
Posted: September 13, 2020 - 5:15 am

Grandparents Day falls on Sept. 13 (today) this year. As you spend the day appreciating the grandparents in your life, take time to remember how to keep them safe. Scammers often target older adults, as they have financial savings, better credit and spend more time at home. Some scams are more likely to target seniors than others. For example, emergency scams, also called the grandparent scam, involve scammers posing as grandchildren needing money to get out of a dire situation.

Sunday 09/06/2020
BBB: Better Business Bureau offers tips for National Preparedness Month
Posted: September 06, 2020 - 5:15 am

Ready is a public service campaign from the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to educating Americans on how to prepare for and respond to emergencies. The Ready campaign recognizes September as National Preparedness Month, which promotes family and community disaster planning.

BBB: Choosing the right driver’s ed course
Posted: September 06, 2020 - 5:00 am

Students are looking for a sense of normalcy as they navigate the school year during COVID-19. Students in Driver’s Ed are no exception. While some Texas driving schools are holding classes in person, many are encouraging students to pursue online or parent-taught courses to limit exposure among students.

Sunday 08/30/2020
BBB: Labor Day tips
Posted: August 30, 2020 - 5:00 am

As we approach Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, consumers are looking to take advantage of the holiday. Some will look for the best Labor Day sales, while others will be taking vacations (or staycations) to have one last bit of summer fun.

Sunday 08/23/2020
BBB: Wedding tips to help navigate your big day
Posted: August 23, 2020 - 5:00 am

While summer is generally considered wedding season, a survey conducted by Wedding Wire shows that Oct. 10 was the top 2020 wedding date. October has also been the most popular month to get married for four consecutive years. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced many couples to cancel or postpone their weddings, and many couples are still unsure what the future holds for their big day.

Sunday 08/16/2020
BBB: Tips for college students on avoiding fraud
Posted: August 16, 2020 - 5:00 am

College students are returning to campus for the start of the semester, and with confusion surrounding new COVID-19 procedures, they may not be thinking about protecting their identities. Students are becoming more susceptible to fraud, which means educating children and young adults on financial literacy is more important than ever.

Sunday 08/09/2020
BBB: Government impostor scams
Posted: August 09, 2020 - 5:00 am

It is no secret that COVID-19 has brought confusion along with concern. This confusion provides opportunities for scammers to target consumers in new, creative ways. A recent study from BBB shows that reports on government impostor scams have decreased, but the pandemic has allowed for these scams to take new forms that may be more difficult to recognize. From posing as CDC officials to preying on CARES funds, impostors are once again taking advantage of trying times.

Sunday 08/02/2020
BBB: Back to school during COVID-19
Posted: August 02, 2020 - 5:00 am

Back to school season has arrived, but it looks a little different this year. School districts across Texas are trying to figure out how to best serve and protect their students and teachers. Some are starting with virtual learning, while some want to keep classes online through the end of the year.

Sunday 07/26/2020
BBB: Foreclosure rescue scams
Posted: July 26, 2020 - 5:00 am

It’s no secret that many consumers are struggling financially during these trying times. Unfortunately, some are at risk of losing their homes. In an already stressful situation, scammers are targeting vulnerable homeowners.

Sunday 07/19/2020
BBB: Scammers use dating apps to launder CARES money
Posted: July 19, 2020 - 5:00 am

The CARES Act, which was passed into law in late March, has been providing financial relief to consumers and businesses across the country. With money being moved into the economy, scammers are looking to profit at the expense of the everyday consumer.

Sunday 07/12/2020
BBB: Military Consumer Month: Employment scams targeting military families
Posted: July 12, 2020 - 5:00 am

July is Military Consumer Month, which is a perfect time to reflect on how the marketplace affects service members and their families. Last year, BBB released the Military Consumers and Marketplace Trust Report, which revealed military consumers report more scams and more money lost.

Sunday 07/05/2020
BBB: Tips for buying cars online
Posted: July 05, 2020 - 5:00 am

Fourth of July is approaching, bringing car sales and deals with it. Among COVID-19, online car sales have been increasing in popularity. However, this makes aspects of the car buying process, like financing and payment terms, more difficult to understand. Knowing the best ways to handle online car sales is important. In 2019, BBB received nearly 200 complaints against the auto industry. Between January and May 2020, 99 complaints were made: a higher monthly rate than last year.

Sunday 06/28/2020
BBB: Planning summer travel ahead of Fourth of July
Posted: June 28, 2020 - 5:00 am

The Fourth of July has become one of the most popular times of year in the U.S. for traveling, but summer vacations may look different this year. COVID-19 cases are rising in Texas, causing many to re-evaluate their Fourth of July plans. Although state government has allowed most businesses to reopen and travel restrictions have expired, Texans are still wondering how they can stay safe on their holiday vacations.

Sunday 06/21/2020
BBB: Storm chaser warning
Posted: June 21, 2020 - 5:00 am

At over 260,000 square miles, Texas spans over several different regions with different climates. From hurricanes to tornadoes, with thunderstorms and wildfires in between, Texas consistently ranks in the top 10 states affected by extreme weather, according to the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies (NCICS).

Sunday 06/14/2020
BBB: Supporting small businesses
Posted: June 14, 2020 - 5:00 am

Local small businesses across the United States have not been immune to the struggles caused by COVID-19. BBB’s Business Impact Report surveyed more than 1,300 accredited businesses, 70 percent of which believed the outbreak would have a significant negative impact. Their main concerns were keeping up with customer demand and paying employees, with cash flow being the biggest worry.

Sunday 05/31/2020
BBB: Reopening tips
Posted: May 31, 2020 - 5:00 am

The Governor’s office began Phase I of reopening Texas on May 1. Since then, the state has moved into Phase II, and more businesses have resumed operations. Consumers and businesses alike are wondering where to begin as the “new normal” settles in. Data shows that a new type of consumer is emerging, one who is more cautious and makes more informed decisions.

Sunday 05/17/2020
BBB: CARES small business relief
Posted: May 17, 2020 - 5:00 am

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed into law with the intent of helping those financially impacted by COVID-19. Small businesses, such as local restaurants and retailers, have struggled due to consumers spending increased time at home. In addition to relief for American workers, employees and families, the CARES Act provides assistance to small businesses.

Sunday 05/10/2020
BBB: Charitable giving tips
Posted: May 10, 2020 - 5:00 am

In the time of COVID-19, charities and organizations are creating relief funds to assist those who have been affected by the crisis. GivingTuesday, the organization behind Giving Tuesday at the beginning of the holiday shopping season, established #GivingTuesdayNow. The event, officially observed on May 5, encourages charitable giving to COVID-19 relief efforts. GivingTuesday suggests supporting your community by purchasing gift cards from local small businesses, donating supplies to healthcare workers and more.

Sunday 05/03/2020
BBB: Top COVID-19 scams
Posted: May 03, 2020 - 5:00 am

It is well known that scammers take advantage of consumers in dire situations. Natural disasters and other catastrophes attract scammers, and COVID-19 is no different. Many scams we are already familiar with are taking a coronavirus twist. The best way to prevent falling victim to these scams is educating yourself on them, so you can recognize the signs and know to walk away.

Sunday 04/26/2020
BBB: COVID-19 scams targeting senior citizens
Posted: April 26, 2020 - 5:00 am

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tells us that older adults are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Unfortunately, they may also be at high risk for being targeted by scammers.

Sunday 04/19/2020
BBB: Knowing debt and credit obligations during COVID-19
Posted: April 19, 2020 - 6:00 am

As the COVID-19 crisis moves forward, with businesses closing temporarily and employee layoffs, many are wondering how they will manage their finances. Among these worries are how to handle credit and debt repayments. The CARES Act offers relief to those financially impacted by the pandemic. The new law requires lenders to report to credit bureaus that borrowers are current on their debt obligations, so long as the borrower has sought relief from those obligations due to pandemic-related hardships.

Sunday 04/12/2020
BBB: Scams targeting economic impact payments
Posted: April 12, 2020 - 6:00 am

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The act aims to provide economic relief to both individuals and small businesses that have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Deposits of economic impact payments into taxpayer bank accounts are scheduled to begin a few weeks after the signing, but scammers are already using CARES to target consumers.

Sunday 04/05/2020
BBB: Tips for businesses during COVID-19
Posted: April 05, 2020 - 6:00 am

In this time of social distancing and shelter-in-place, small businesses are wondering what they should do. Many organizations and government agencies are already moving quickly to provide economic relief. For example, the Small Business Administration is allowing small business owners to apply for low-interest loans as part of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Texas workers whose employment has been affected by COVID-19 can visit the Texas Workforce Commission to learn what benefits they are eligible for.

Sunday 03/22/2020
BBB: Cancellation tips amid COVID-19
Posted: March 22, 2020 - 6:00 am

With the coronavirus strain COVID-19 appearing in multiple cities and countries, travel plans are being postponed, or cancelled altogether. Not only travel, but the schedules of large-scale events like sports, music festivals and more are being affected. Many are left wondering what to do about cancelled travels and purchased tickets they can no longer use.

Sunday 03/08/2020
BBB: National Consumer Protection Week 2020
Posted: March 08, 2020 - 6:00 am

National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 1-7, is here. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) organizes NCPW each year and partners with businesses and organizations across the country to inform consumers about scams, identity theft and other consumer protection issues.

Sunday 03/01/2020
BBB: Avoiding ticket scams this spring
Posted: March 01, 2020 - 6:00 am

Spring is on its way, along with all the fun the changing seasons have to offer. There’s a lot going on in the Heart of Texas as February melts into March; Austinites are gearing up for annual SXSW festivities, and basketball fans will be making their way to University of Houston to watch the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight of March Madness.

Sunday 02/23/2020
BBB: Tips for prom and graduation
Posted: February 23, 2020 - 6:00 am

If your child is a junior or senior in high school, you’re likely gearing up for prom and graduation season —  dresses, rentals for tuxes and limos, photographers and more. There is a lot to plan before these memorable nights, and your Better Business Bureau is here with tips to prepare ahead and keep everything running smoothly:

Sunday 02/16/2020
BBB: Avoiding tax identity theft
Posted: February 16, 2020 - 6:00 am

Tax season is upon us, and you have until April 15 to file your return. Scammers are also busy during tax season, hoping to steal money you earned. How will you know your tax return has been taken from you? When you go to file, you’ll get a written notice from the IRS that more than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number.

Sunday 02/09/2020
BBB: Romance scams
Posted: February 09, 2020 - 6:00 am

Love is in the air, and romantics are getting ready for Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it can be a lonely time for some, which prompts many to turn to the internet in search of that special someone. Online dating has helped many find their forever partner, but it can also be a vehicle to help scammers find their targets.

Sunday 02/02/2020
BBB: Planning for spring break
Posted: February 02, 2020 - 6:00 am

Spring break offers an opportunity to travel with your family while the kids get a vacation from school. While it may still be a few months away, now is the time to start planning your spring break travels and activities.

Sunday 01/26/2020
BBB: Data Privacy Day 2020
Posted: January 26, 2020 - 1:30 am

Technology is an important part of our everyday lives; our cell phones and computers offer the world at our fingertips. They also convert your passwords, emails, credit card numbers and more into data that can be extremely valuable to scammers looking to steal your information or money. This is why we observe Data Privacy Day on January 28, as a way to remind ourselves to improve our internet safety practices to better protect our privacy.

Sunday 01/19/2020
BBB: Trade show tips
Posted: January 19, 2020 - 1:30 am

The beginning of the year is a popular time for trade shows, and trade shows are great opportunities for businesses and consumers alike. For businesses, the shows allow you to display your products and meet potential clients face to face. Consumers are given the opportunity to shop around and compare different businesses in one place, so they can find the one that best suits their needs.

Sunday 01/12/2020
BBB: Finding the right personal trainer
Posted: January 12, 2020 - 5:00 am

Many are determined to achieve their personal fitness goals in the beginning of a new year, and there are many ways they might achieve this. Committing to healthy eating and working out is the most common way to improve health, but consumers who want a more focused approach may opt to hire a personal trainer.

Sunday 01/05/2020
BBB: New Year’s resolutions – A healthier 2020
Posted: January 05, 2020 - 5:00 am

The new year (and decade) are here! A new year provides a fresh start and an opportunity for people to assess what they’d like to do better in the coming months. A blog that conducted a survey in 2017 of 400 people in the U.S. and the U.K. found exercising more and eating healthier were the most common New Year’s resolutions, respectively. Of the survey participants, 45% set their resolutions with the hope of improving their quality of life, and 23% wanted to lose weight.

Sunday 12/22/2019
BBB: Tips for buying smart toys
Posted: December 22, 2019 - 5:00 am

Many toys can now be connected to the internet. This offers both fun and educational opportunities for your kids but can also come with risks if you’re uninformed. Many of these toys may collect a child’s personal information without parents’ knowledge. It is important to remember that, just like in most offline situations, a parent’s permission is required to collect or use a child’s information, such as a name or email address.

Sunday 12/15/2019
BBB: Holiday travel tips
Posted: December 15, 2019 - 5:00 am

Consumers are preparing for one of the busiest travel seasons of the year. Many are planning to visit family during the holidays, others take annual trips around this time. Some may feel the need to just escape for a bit, while thrifty travelers take advantage of holiday deals to plan vacations months in advance.

Sunday 12/08/2019
BBB: Common holiday scams
Posted: December 08, 2019 - 5:00 am

The holiday season has officially begun, and the average consumer has a lot to do: shop for gifts, prepare for family, make travel arrangements, plan holiday meals and more. Unfortunately, this is also a busy season for scammers looking to steal your money or personal information. With your mind on finding the perfect gifts and best deals, they hope you won’t be watching for fraud. That’s why your Better Business Bureau is here to remind you of common holiday scams to help you stay sharp this season:

Sunday 12/01/2019
BBB: Gift card scams
Posted: December 01, 2019 - 5:00 am

Gift cards are a popular purchase during the holidays. They’re convenient and easy for gift givers and allow gift receivers to pick the perfect items from their favorite stores. However, scammers love gift cards just as much as shoppers do. Gift cards act a lot like cash: they can be used anonymously and are extremely difficult to reverse once used.

Sunday 11/24/2019
BBB: Black Friday
Posted: November 24, 2019 - 5:00 am

Black Friday is typically the biggest day of the year for retailers, kicking off the holiday shopping season for consumers. The National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates an increase nationwide in both holiday spending and seasonal hiring. According to the NRF, the average consumer plans on spending over $1,000 this holiday season, between gifts, food, decorations and other purchases.

Sunday 11/17/2019
BBB: Scams targeting veterans
Posted: November 17, 2019 - 5:00 am

On Veterans Day, we had the privilege to honor those who risked their lives to protect our freedoms. Better Business Bureau offers resources to veterans through its Military Line program. It is designed to help veterans as they return and adjust to civilian life. These resources are especially important because studies show that veterans, as well as active service members and their families, face unique challenges that lead to higher losses when confronted with scams. In 2018, the average consumer lost $152 when they fell victim to a scam, whereas a military consumer’s average loss was $200 (32% higher).

Sunday 11/10/2019
BBB: Avoiding advance fee loan scams this holiday season
Posted: November 10, 2019 - 5:00 am

November is here, and consumers are preparing for the holidays. The season has become known for being hectic and stressful, as people travel to see family and attempt to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones without breaking the bank. It can also be a time of making big purchases for your home and family, since many businesses put costly items like cars and furniture on sale.

Sunday 11/03/2019
BBB: Scam risk study
Posted: November 03, 2019 - 5:00 am

Approximately one in 10 U.S. adults are victims of fraud every year. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 372,000 fraud complaints. With fraud being such a common issue, it becomes easy to wonder, “What separates victims from non-victims?” There isn’t a superior kind of person that is immune to scams, and even those who consider themselves savvy can find themselves a victim if they aren’t careful and informed.

Sunday 10/27/2019
BBB: National Cybersecurity Month
Posted: October 27, 2019 - 5:00 am

Since 2004, The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) has recognized October as National Cybersecurity Month. Cybersecurity remains a relevant issue for businesses and consumers alike. We rely on our phones, computers and even our watches for everyday tasks. However, we also trust these devices with our most sensitive information. Mobile payment and banking apps require financial information which is sent electronically. Hard copies of important documents and valued photos are becoming rare, because they can be easily stored on phones and laptops.

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