Why should you “Look for the Logo” when searching for trusted businesses
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BBB Event 4/26/2014: FREE Document Shredding & Electronic Recycling
The $3.17 Email is NOT a Scam! Why Amazon May Have Given You a Little Green
If you’ve bought a bestseller in the form of an ebook from a major publisher between April 2010 and May 2012, you may have gotten a little bonus in your Amazon account today.
Here’s an explanation from Time Magazine’s blog:
“The money is the result of an Apple eBooks anti-trust settlement between various publishers and the Department of Justice. Publishers and Apple were accused of conspiring to fix select ebook prices when the iBookstore launched. Apple is still fighting the suit but publishers decided to settle.
“Thus, anyone who bought an ebook from HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin, or Macmillan between April 2010 and May 2012 that made it onto the New York Times bestsellers list got a $3.17 refund. Non-bestsellers got 73 cents. (Minnesotans received $3.93 and 94 cents.) The refund has already been automatically added to customers’ Amazon accounts.”
The settlement shows up as a credit to your Amazon account, and you can use it to purchase any books (traditional and digital), but not other purchases. Have questions? Amazon has a pretty thorough FAQ that explains a lot more detail. They point out they are not a party to the Justice Department’s case, just a channel for distributing the settlement money.
NOTE: Amazon.com is a BBB Accredited Business.
Don’t Be Fooled by IRS Email!
The tax man cometh next month! BBB warns you not to be fooled by emails claiming you qualify to receive Federal and State tax relief. In fact, one such email says, “It will feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.”
This so-called Tax-Reprieve Package Federal Relief Program email gives a file number, then asks you to click on a link saying, “See the amount of Tax-Relief you will receive.” But, if you do click, you could be downloading spyware onto your computer that will steal your personal information.
It is important to keep in mind the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. Scam artists routinely pose as tax preparers during tax time, luring victims in by promising large Federal tax refunds or refunds that people never dreamed they were due in the first place. BBB recommends not clicking on any links from a source you do not recognize. This time of year, there is the potential for several schemes mimicking the IRS.
Bottom line: Emails like this are a sure indication it’s all just a scam from those looking to steal your personal information.
Don’t click, just delete, otherwise you’ll have a much larger weight on your shoulders trying to get out from a huge case of identity theft. Start with Trust, visit bbb.org.
Think Twice Before Signing Up for That “Free” Trial
If you’re interested in a certain product or service, you might jump at the chance to participate in a trial and try it for free. You might think you have nothing to lose plus you can figure out if you actually want to buy the good. These trial products range from kitchen gadgets to weight loss supplements. However all free trials have one thing in common: eventually they end. And when they do and the company has your credit card information on file, you might find yourself roped into paying for products you don’t want or need.
Some companies use free trials to sign you up for many other products that come with a monthly charge until you cancel. However, dishonest businesses have several tricks up their sleeve to make it extremely difficult to cancel whatever offer(s) you signed up for. They will hide the terms and conditions of these offers, use pre-checked sign-up boxes you might not even notice, automatically renew your subscription, enroll you in some type of club and employ strict return and cancellation conditions that make it near impossible to stop the charges.
If you are interested in participating in a free trial follow these tips to avoid any hidden tricks:
-Research the company online to see what other people are saying about the service and its free trials. Also, remember to check bbb.org to find businesses you can trust and make sure you double check which company is behind the offer.
-Look carefully at the terms and conditions in order to know what you are agreeing to before you sign up.
-Watch out for pre-checked boxes because this may allow the company to continue to send you more products – only this time you’ll have to pay for them.
-Mark on your calendar the day when the free trial ends because in many cases if you don’t cancel your trial by this date, you may start receiving other items.
-Check your credit and debit card statements for any unauthorized charges from the company. If you see charges you didn’t agree to, contact the company directly to sort out the situation. If that doesn’t work, call your credit card company to dispute the charge.
For more important information regarding free trials, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0101-free-trial-offers.
Identity Theft: Signs and Solutions
In the wake of recent, large-scale data breaches, it might be a good time to discuss what could happen when your personal information falls into the hands of the wrong person. Identity theft is a common and growing problem as today’s thieves get more resourceful and more technologically advanced. Some may rummage through your or a company’s garbage, some will target you directly, hoping to trick you into revealing personal information, and others will execute complex hacking techniques. Whatever the method may be, the outcome remains the same: these thieves and scammers get a hold of your personal and sensitive information.
Once these thieves have your information they can withdraw money from your bank account, charge purchases to your credit card, file a tax refund in your name and even get medical treatment under your health insurance.
The following are a few signs that you have been a victim of identity theft:
- Unfamiliar withdrawals from your bank account
- Missing bills and other mail
- Calls from debt collectors about debts that aren’t yours
- Unauthorized charges to your credit card
- Medical bills for services you did not receive
- Multiple tax returns were filed in your name
It is extremely important to monitor all of your sensitive accounts for identity theft, especially following a data breach in which your information may have been compromised. If you believe your information was compromised and you have been the victim of identity theft, always take immediate action in order to stop an identity thief from doing further damage.
Follow these three steps as soon as possible:
- Place an Initial Fraud Alert
- Order Your Credit Reports
- Create an Identity Theft Report
Details on how to follow these steps can be found on the FTC site here.
Identity theft is not the end of the world. However, it takes a great deal of time and effort to reverse the potential damage to your sensitive accounts. Once a report has been filed you will want to monitor these accounts for fraud and frequently check your credit reports for any additional or recent damage.
For more information from the FTC on identity theft and solutions, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/repairing-identity-theft.
Beware of Spring Break Scams
The calendar tells us spring is just around the corner. And following a brutal winter season, college students and consumers alike will be looking forward to spring break getaways. Before you make your escape, the Better Business Bureau wants to make sure your trip isn’t ruined by the threat of scams.
The BBB offers the following tips when planning a vacation.
- Book through a reliable travel agent.Check the agency’s report at BBB.ORG. or find a BBB Accredited Business. Accredited Businesses must adhere to the BBB’s 8 standards of trust, including advertise honestly, be transparent, and honor promises.
- Get details about your trip in writing.Be sure to confirm the details, such as total cost, any restrictions that apply, flights, hotel reservations, and car rental.
- Use a credit card as payment.Paying by credit card offers the most protection should something to wrong.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance.Travel insurance provides coverage for particular perils which are specificconditions under which it will pay claims. Be sure to shop around and read theterms and conditions before purchasing.
- Usecaution when considering deals.If a deal or package offers a lot for a very low price, be wary. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
- Be wary of claims you “won” a trip.Generally if you’ve truly won something, it will be given to you as a gift. Be especially leary if the offer is unsolicited. Check on any offers with the Better Business Bureau.