• September 22, 2020

Odessa American: BBB Column

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BBB: Tips for buying a car

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.

More From Top Story

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.

Sunday 10/20/2019
BBB: Census Scams
Posted: October 20, 2019 - 5:00 am

As 2019 draws to a close, a new decade will be here before we know it. However, as we usher in a new era, there is business to be taken care of; namely, the census. The deadline to take part in the national event is April 1, so you’re likely to hear a lot from the United States Census Bureau until then.

Sunday 10/13/2019
BBB: Halloween tips
Posted: October 13, 2019 - 12:00 pm

It’s the creepiest, spookiest time of year, but things really get scary when you think about how much money you’re about to spend on Halloween. Candy, costumes and decorations can really add up. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), an estimated $8.8 billion will be spent this Halloween, with the individual consumer spending an average of $86.27.

Sunday 10/06/2019
BBB: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Posted: October 06, 2019 - 12:00 pm

According to breastcancer.org, one in every eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. The CDC stated in 2016 that breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women, regardless of race or ethnicity. It was more than twice as common as lung and bronchus cancer, the second most common type.

Sunday 09/29/2019
BBB: Heater repair tips
Posted: September 29, 2019 - 12:15 am

As of September 23, autumn is officially here, and while the truly chilly weather is still on its way to Texas, now is the time to know where to turn for heater maintenance and repairs. It’s important to know ahead of time who you want to go to in case your furnace wears out. When you’re stressed, cold and in a hurry, you may not stop to think if a repair person is truly trustworthy.

Sunday 09/22/2019
BBB: September is National Preparedness Month!
Posted: September 22, 2019 - 12:15 am

You can never know exactly when disaster will strike, and in the moment, all you should have to think about is getting yourself and your family to safety. That’s why September is National Preparedness Month, a time that reminds us to plan ahead for whatever may be coming. Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas offers these tips to keep you prepared:

Sunday 09/15/2019
BBB: Genetic testing fraud
Posted: September 15, 2019 - 12:15 am

DNA testing is a practice that is becoming more common in the medical field. According to the National Institutes of Health, one of the main benefits of genetic testing is the ability to make more informed decisions about the future of your healthcare.

Sunday 09/08/2019
BBB: Grandparent’s Day
Posted: September 08, 2019 - 12:15 am

Today is Grandparents’ Day, when we get to celebrate the love and appreciation we have for Gramps and Nana. Chances are your grandparents looked out for you, and Grandparents’ Day is chance to return the favor. Better Business Bureau suggests taking a few minutes to learn how we can protect them from scammers looking to steal their money.

Sunday 09/01/2019
BBB: Ransomware attacks across Texas
Posted: September 01, 2019 - 12:15 am

Texas made headlines around the world as news broke of ransomware attacks on 22 municipalities across the state. The attacks happened on the morning of August 16 and seemed to target the local governments of mostly rural towns. What does this mean? Ransomware allows hackers to remotely encrypt computers, locking out the primary users.

Sunday 08/25/2019
BBB: Don’t fall for ticket scams this autumn
Posted: August 25, 2019 - 12:15 am

Fall is an exciting time in Texas for many reasons, but one reason may loom above the rest: football. The NFL season begins September 5, but here in Texas, the real draws kick off on August 24 with college football. Little compares to the combined electricity of school pride and Texas football, which is why consumers are willing to spend a pretty penny on good tickets. Tickets for 50-yard line seats at the UT vs. LSU game are going for $1,500 on StubHub. A club seat for the Texas A&M vs. Alabama game could cost you $2,500. Are you the kind of person that prefers music and festivals over sports? Concertgoers travel from across the country to attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival every October. If you’re looking to StubHub to get your tickets, a general admission three-day pass sells for over $1,400 (without VIP access).

Sunday 08/18/2019
BBB: Giving after tragedy
Posted: August 18, 2019 - 12:15 am

After tragic events occurred across the country recently, including a shooting in El Paso, communities are mobilizing to help those affected. Many are angry or grieving, and many are looking for the road to recovery. Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas applauds those who are offering what they can, and we are here to help as well, by advising consumers on the best ways they can give wisely after tragedies.

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