Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Post of the Year

It's been a good year on the blog. We had more than twelve thousand visits to the blog in 2011 and the Scams of the Week has been a huge success for being a helpful resource for people on the web. Next year, we will most likely post updates on each individual scam as it arises, rather than lump them together. It would be more beneficial to people surfing the web immediately after being contacted by the scam.

The Kansas City BBB has created a Facebook page as another tool to spread the word about scams, tips, and news. If you'd like to get updates via your Facebook stream, like our page.

We will continue to have the posts about charities, scams, news and tips. In addition, we will be making some fun additions. Hopefully occasional comic strips as well as podcasts.

The BBB wishes you a great weekend, and we'll see you next year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How NOT to Handle Complaints

*There will be some unprofessional language in the links provided below.

Ocean Marketing took every single wrong turn possible in handling a complaint from a justly dissatisfied customer. Ocean Marketing has never had a complaint to the BBB, but the way they handled this single issue, not even filed with us, has caused an incredible amount of grief for the company.

A customer dissatisfied with delayed shipping of product, coupled with rude and vague communication from Ocean Marketing, forwarded his email chain with PR Rep Paul Christoforo to internet traffic magnet, Penny Arcade. Penny Arcade published the entire chain. Read the details here. The rep from the company patronizes the customer for his valid complaint, then berates Penny Arcade's founder Mike Krahulik.  On the occasions that people have insulted Penny Arcade, and as soon as Penny Arcade fans heard about it, it fanned internet flame wars with unparalleled intensity.

Apparently Mr. Christoforo wasn't finished torching his reputation, because he begins trashing other industry professionals for refuting his shameless namedropping. Gaming site Kotaku's Editor and Chief also refuted Mr. Christoforo's claims of his support. Another industry powerhouse, IGN, weighed in as well, condemning the actions of Ocean Marketing.  Other sites are also coming forward with their stories of poor customer service from Paul Christoforo. *Special thanks to this guy for compiling most of the links above.


In addition to the general customer service no-noes this Chistoforo guy engaged in, he tragically misunderstands his customer base. The customer in this story, Dave, accurately sums them up:

"You Show a surprising lack of business polish for someone who's quite established, AND a lack of awareness of your customer base: Hardcore gamers. We're demanding, vocal customers but the flip side is we're loyal and eager to spend."

Hardcore gamers are just about the only group that can activate an effective boycott. They're tight knit and back each other up. If one of them is wronged, they all feel wronged. They also know that if something happens to one person, it can happen to another. The customer only asked to be kept informed, which is a mild request, and typical of hardcore gamers. More than most any other customers, they're extremely well-informed about their purchases and know what to expect. What could Paul Christoforo have been thinking?

Needless to say, business owners, use this as a lesson on how NOT to handle a complaint.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Automatic Renewals: Benefits and Hazards

Most people are familiar with companies that automatically renew memberships for services. The BBB is intimately familiar with it as we, because it generates a considerable amount of complaints when customers don't want the service anymore and are told that they were enrolled in another year of service. Most people think that companies have these policies only so that companies can keep customers, whether customers want to stay or not. This isn't always true... It's often true, but not always.

One of my favorite examples of automatic renewal is XBox Live. XBox live has high value. Users can stream Netflix and Hulu, watch music videos and play multiplayer games with their friends via the internet among other things. It's pretty much a must have for Xbox 360 owners. I don't want my subscription to run out, that's for sure. Microsoft does almost everything right regarding the automatic renewal. The user is prompted when 'e signs up for Xbox Live, asking about auto-renewal. Within a month of the auto-renewal date, the subscriber is again greeted with a prompt, asking if 'e would like to auto-renew the subscription. It's very nice of Microsoft to ask right before the subscription expires if the person would like to auto-renew, but the prompt doesn't give the user the option to review his payment method. If a subscriber hasn't purchased any Microsoft points any time in the past year (i.e. me), it's difficult to remember which card is on the account. I'm unsure if I really want to auto-renew when I don't know which account will be charged. It would have been better if it had an ask me later option like Adobe updates. It's a minor complaint and it's the only hiccup in the process. The subscriber is also sent an email about the renewal and a receipt via email. This is how auto-renewal should be handled, by keeping the subscriber perpetually updated.

For a long time, Weight Watchers received numerous complaints about its automatic renewal system. In an effort to curb these complaints while keeping their automatic renewal system, their site changed multiple times to make the auto-renew feature more obvious. I watched as they moved their disclaimer about the automatic renewal all over the page. At one point it was boldfaced and in red print above their sign-up section. Now, it is in bold black print, next to all capital letters that say "PLEASE NOTE," followed by an explanation of the renewal. It is also boldfaced in the subscriber agreement. The Weight Watchers online membership apparently allows users access to etools that help trend eating habits and plan diets. They rarely get complaints over their auto-renewal nowadays. However, the benefit of automatic renewal for a set of tools is not immediately apparent.  For automatic-renewal to be valuable to the customer, it has to prevent the termination of a service. When a customer has to log in and use the site, auto-renewal is, I suppose, a handy bonus if one does not want to do monthly accounting, but it doesn't really prevent the termination of a service. If the service expires, the next time a person needs to use those tools, he or she can renew at that time with no loss of needed service.

Netflix, Hulu, Gamefly and many others have automatic renewal services because their services are themselves automated. Netflix and Gamefly have queues that discontinue if payment isn't made. Hulu will throw all Hulu+ videos out of a subscriber's queue (or prevent the subscriber from watching them. Same thing.). Trash service is also a valuable to have auto-renewed.

Complaints and consumer backlash start when they don't feel the service warrants automatic renewal. It gets worse if the company doesn't do a good job of updating the customers on the status of their renewals. Customers will feel slighted or cheated. If you are a business contemplating auto-renew services, take these things into account. It's very difficult to win back a customer who feels wronged, and even harder when you cannot justify the use of a service that cost them money. Customers need to be aware of what they agree to before signing up. So many people who filed complaints against Weight Watchers had click "I agree" right near where it explicitly mentioned the automatic renewal. Be aware of these types of things.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Scams of the Week: December 17, 2011

It's kind of a slow week for scams in the KC Area, which is good. Be aware that there is is still phishing scam out there that is using the BBB's name to trick businesses into clicking a link via email. Call us to verify complaints.


US Grant & Finance Department - They spoofed some numbers from Washington D.C. to make themselves appear official (202-621-0402 and 202-621-0357). They claim that their victims have been awarded a $7000 grant for being a good citizen and ask for $100-250 in processing fees to be wired to them. Grants don't work like this. If these people call, or anyone with a similar story, hang up the phone.

Loyalty Rewards Co. - Only a few people have said anything about them. People mostly complain about getting unsolicited phone calls, but in one case, the company claimed to have obtained the person's phone number from their online activities. But the person didn't even own a computer. They're calling from 314-627-2824 and asking for credit card information.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Charity Wednesdays - Women Drive Charity Donations

I found this note from The Chronicle of Philanthropy on the who, what, and why of charitable giving not very suprising.  A study conducted by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy*  and paid for by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Foundation found that women were the driving force or equal partner in 75% of giving choices by wealthy American couples. 

This seems really obvious to me.  The charitable sector is about emotions.  We are motivated to give  and serve because we feel bad for animals in need, homeless people on the street, and artists who need jobs.  Women are emotional. Of course we drive giving decisions!


*I'm a proud alumna of Indiana University.  Click the video below to see how IU put the smack down on Kentucky last weekend.  Go Hoosiers!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Phishing Scam: BBB interview on KCTV5

People are being targeted by a phishing scam that is using the BBB name. You can watch the video here.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Charity Wednesdays - Holiday Bell Ringers

I'd like to take an informal poll:  Do you give to those holiday bell ringers that stand outside of stores looking for donations?

While there are a few organizations that do that type of fundraising, Salvation Army, a BBB accredited charity, is the most well-known.   While I have little doubt that donations to them are doing good things for the people they serve, I have mixed feelings about this type of fundraising.

The Good:
* A wonderfully visible sign of the need to support charities during the holiday season.  What's more iconic than a red kettle and a bell ringer this time of year?

* It's a really easy way to donate.  It can't get much easier than dumping the spare change that didn't make it back in you wallet before leaving the store. Of course, as fewer people carry cash, this does get less convenient.  But in some areas, not Kansas City, Salvation Army bell ringers are now using a mobile ap to collect credit or debit card donations.  If it catches on, I'm sure we'll see it here in a season or two.

* It's a great way to teach kids about charity.  A lesson in generosity can't get more hands-on than by putting some change in a bucket.

* For many, it's a great volunteer job.  Many churches and other organizations work with the Salvation Army to sign up volunteer bell ringers.  Some bell ringers are employed, and in this economy, a job is a job is a job and that's o.k, too.


The Bad:
*It is difficult to know how much control their is over collections. I'm sure it drives accountants nuts. It is hard to tell for absolute certain that the $5 you put in that kettle will make it's way to the local Salvation Army.  But, honestly, it's not very common.  It may happen in a few well-publicized cases but it is very rare.

*It's a high-pressure sale.  At least, it can be, if you're the type of person that is easily swung into a guilt trip.  This guilt trip could be made considerably worse if your 6-year-old asks why other people are putting change in the red bucket but you're not.

*It really shouldn't be part of a serious giving plan. At our house we map out how much we can afford to give to charity, what we want that money to do, and which organizations are the best fit for it.  On a tight middle-class budget that means that $5 here, $3 there - amounts that add up - are not part of our plan.  But the $0.53 I got in change after buying my sister-in-law a Justin Bieber CD?  O.k., the red kettle can have that.  But it's the 'extra' in my budget, not what I've set aside for organizations with which I have established relationships.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Does that Asterisk Mean?


A common trend consumers may notice is just how many asterisks are on advertisements.  Some advertisements have so many asterisks that the company begins using additional symbols like crosses, degree symbols, or double crosses.  Asterisks usually lead to additional information about a deal being offered. However, the frequency in which asterisks are misused or used for purposes that have the potential to mislead is concerning.

Last year, the Kansas City Better Business Bureau had to contact multiple car dealerships with advertisements that had asterisks the led nowhere. There was no additional information. The asterisk implied that there were exceptions to a listed price, but the consumer had no way of knowing what those exceptions were.

Some asterisks lead to lengthy disclaimers that virtually nullify everything that the advertisement has just said.  Asterisks should never be used to contradict what was said immediately before. Companies can face legal action over this. Short disclaimers can do the same thing.  Businesses are not allowed to advertise something that is untrue in most situations unless conspicuously disclosed near the advertised items, not hidden away in small print at the bottom of (or back) of the ad.

I've seen companies link their asterisks to disclaimers or terms of use that are dozens of pages long. The advertisement gives no indication of where to look for the additional information that is undoubtedly buried somewhere within the 10,000 word disclaimer. That too, is unacceptable.

Even though some companies make asterisks difficult to follow, they should be much easier to comprehend.  Just follow the BBB Code of Advertising:

An asterisk may be used to impart additional information about a word or term which is not in itself inherently deceptive. The asterisk or other reference symbol should not be used as a means of contradicting or substantially changing the meaning of any advertising statement. Information referenced by asterisks should be clearly and prominently disclosed.


If you see an advertisement that might violate the above statement, contact your Better Business Bureau. It's possible that the business is accidentally or intentionally misleading consumers. It will need to be rectified.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Charity Wednesdays - 2011 Holiday Giving Guide


The BBB Wants YOU To Make Smart Giving Choices This Holiday Season!

Many individuals and families make holiday giving a part of their celebrations as a way to remember those less fortunate, to teach their children about caring for others, or even as a way to receive last-minute tax deductions before year’s end.  Charities often depend on end-of-year giving to keep their financials in the black.   We want you to know how to make sure your holiday giving makes a difference.

Responding to Natural Disasters and Humanitarian Crises

Many in our metro were personally touched by disasters in Reading, Kansas and Joplin, Missouri.  Natural disasters around the world have left many in great need.  As you consider donating money to meet the needs of people who are suffering, here are some tips.

1.Be cautious when giving online.
2.Find out if the charity has an established, on-the-ground presence in the impacted areas.
3.Find out if the charity is providing direct aid or raising money for other groups.
4.Gifts of clothing, food or other in-kind donations.

Smart Giving Basics
  1. Do not give cash; always make contributions by check and make your check payable to the charity, not to the individual collecting the donation.
  2. Keep records of your donations (receipts, canceled checks, and bank statements) so you can document your charitable giving at tax time. Although the value of your time as a volunteer is not deductible, out-of-pocket expenses (including transportation costs) directly related to your volunteer service to a charity are deductible.
  3. Don't be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization.
  4. Check out the organization with the local charity registration office (usually a division of the state attorney general's office) and with your Better Business Bureau.


Below is a list of local charities that have been reviewed by the BBB according to the Standards for Charity Accountability. 

Accredited Charities

The following local charities meet all 20 BBB Standards of Charity Accountability and have been awarded the Kansas City BBB Charity Seal.



The following organization also meets all 20 Standards:

Additionally, the following national charities based here the Kansas City metro area are accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance:

Other Charity Reviews
The following local charity voluntarily submitted information to the BBB and have been reviewed BBB.  For a variety of reasons, they do not meet all 20 Standards. 


Nondisclosures
The following charities have chosen not to respond to BBB requests for information.

For more information on making wise giving choices, check out the BBB’s Tips on Giving

The BBB reports on charities that the public has us asked about. If your favorite charity is not listed with us, click here to inquire about that organization.  Organizations can also register themselves by visiting our registration page. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Scams of the Week: November 30, 2011

BBB Sweepstakes - Jamaicans are calling Kansas City residents claiming to be the Better Business Bureau of Denver and that they are giving away $1 Million. Unfortunately, the BBB does not give away millions of dollars to random people. They ask victims to go to CVS and get two $400 "Moneypack Reloads," and then to call them back for directions of where to send them.  They call from (876) 420-8921.

Exterior Home Concepts - According to the BBB in Indianapolis, Exterior Home Concepts has been taking money from homeowners in advance for roof work. The company never starts work on the homes and keeps the money. Certified mail has been returned from their local address at 8016 State Line Rd in Kansas City, KS.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Charity Wednesdays - If It Sounds Too Good to Be True . . .

In the spirit of the holiday season, I thought this vintage BBB commercial would be fun.  Our most basic advice on avoiding consumer scams is the same today as it was back then - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

The same message applies to charitable giving.  If a charity tells you it has no overhead expenses or that all of your donation will go toward programs, they are probably not telling you the truth.  Always ask questions and never feel pressured into making a donation.   Your generosity this holiday season is sorely needed by your favorite charities.  Your experience of giving should be a good one.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Scams of the Week: November 23, 2011

BBB Phishing Scam - As of today, all across the country, scammers are claiming that businesses have gotten complaints.  Most of the complaint numbers begin with "22" or "24," but some don't.  The scammers are trying to cash in on communication difficulties during the holidays, making complaints difficult to verify because the BBB will be off for Thanksgiving. The emails are supposedly coming from "Risk@bbb.org," "Service@bbb.org," and "Alert@bbb.org."  Fortunately, the scammers unleashed their plan a bit early, and we are in our offices today. They are also trying to attack our main email accounts to further disrupt communication. If your business receives an email about a complaint that fits the description above, delete the email and have your IT department run a virus scan. You can contact us at info@kansascity.bbb.org or (816) 421-7800. Or you can contact us during the holidays at KANSASCITYBBB@GMAIL.COM

The text of the email looks like this:

"The Better Business Bureau has received the above-referenced complaint
from one of your customers regarding their dealings with you.
The details of the consumer's concern are included on the reverse.
Please review this matter and advise us of your position.
As a neutral third party, the Better Business Bureau can help to resolve
the matter. Often complaints are a result of misunderstandings a company
wants to know about and correct.
We encourage you to use our ONLINE COMPLAINT system to respond this
complaint.

The following URL (website address) below will take you directly to this
complaint and you will be able to enter your response directly on our
website:


Winners Circle - A group of foreign scammers who call people and tell them they've won $2.5 million. They must pay a fee of $750--to be wired via Moneygram or Western Union, of course.

Xbox Live Phishing Scam - Microsoft got hit by another elaborate phishing scam today.  People are being contacted by scammers asking for personal information such as credit card numbers. Xbox's official blog has more details.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Scams of the Week: November 14, 2011

Jamaican Lottery Scam - This is one of the scarier scams. They actually want to meet up with the victims. They want their elderly targets to bring money with them to a meeting spot. We're not sure if they change their plans to a wire transfer at the last minute or actually have a confederate located in the area. They are calling from 1-876-864-8217 at the moment, but will likely change that soon.

Wire Transfer Confirmation - This is one of the more clever scams, except for the bad grammar. The scammers send a blast email to as many people as possible, saying that their wire transfer has been put on hold. They will probably contact a few people who have recently wired money. They will then try to get the victim to give personal information and even re-wire the money to a third party.

Realty Executive Escrow - We finally determined the name of the "escrow group" that All City Management claims to use.  All City Management contacts victims and claims that they have a buyer for their timeshares. They recommend using Realty Executive Escrow, which, in reality, is actually the same group of people. IF SOMEONE CALLS YOU AND SAYS THEY HAVE A BUYER LINED UP FOR YOUR TIMESHARE, IT'S A SCAM.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Charity Wednesdays - What The Occupy Movement Can Teach All Nonprofits

Whether or not you sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street protesters, there is something that all of us in the nonprofit sector can learn from this movement.  As The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes, the Occupy movement has been successful because the campaign doesn't have the look of something created in an ad agency, but rather a genuine 'rough around the edges' tone that appeals to an audience looking for something real.  Real people expressing themselves in real ways.

I'm not sure that the Occupy folks consulted with any professional advertisers about how to channel their passions. They're not a centralized movement and not exactly the type of people that would 'pitch-in' to hire a corporation to help them craft their anti-corporate messages.  Take those cardboard signs with hand-written messages.  I'm guessing that came from one of many pre-protest brainstorming sessions.  Maybe it was Ted or Jan that grabbed a discarded pizza box and felt inspired to write something on it with a Sharpie. Maybe it was a 'plan b' after Greg's balloon idea fizzeled.  I don't know.  But it works. And it at least seems genuine.  Add the techie elements from a generation that can't remember the world without social networking and texting and you have a movement that people identify with. I've heard a lot of speeches from so-called experts on how nonprofits can get people to identify with their cause and I have yet to hear one expert suggest that a sharpie and a pizza box are necessary tools. 

But what I love more than anything about the nonprofit sector is that the number one way to succeed as a charity, as a movement, as a cause is to do something different.  Ideas that stick can come from anywhere.

Monday, November 7, 2011

BBB Anniversary Recap

In celebration of the Kansas City Better Busienss Bureau's 95th anniversary, we hosted an awards ceremony in honor of longtime BBB Accredited Businesses.

We first had a Meet & Greet hour, during which our Accredited Business owners and reps could mingle with us and others.


During the meet & greet, there was a live Jazz band.

During the meal, our Chairman of the Board, Aaron Brown, Customer Relations Manager for Nebraska Furniture Mart, spoke on the importance of BBB history.

Our Keynote speaker, Kathy Pickering, Vice President of the H&R Block's Tax Institute, spoke on business taxes and what's in' store for small businesses.


President of the Better Business Bureau, David Buckley, gave report on the BBB's financial history and some of our activities in the past 95 years.


As dinner winded down, we presented our longtime BBB Accredited Business. Our Director of Accreditation Dustin Johnson gave descriptions of the company's commitment marketplace ethics over the years while President David Buckley presented the awards.


Accredited Businesses with more that 50 years of continued support to the Better Business Bureau include:
Arthur Fels Company 
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
Dean Machinery Co.
First Federal Bank of Kansas City
Ford Motor Company - Kansas City
Helzberg Diamonds Shops, Inc.
Hovey Williams L.L.P.
James B. Nutter and Co.
John A. Marshall Company
The Kansas City Star
KMBC - TV 9
KPMG LLP
McConnell & Associates Corp
Missouri Peace Officers Association
Pace Products Inc.
Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Service
Shawnee Steel & Welding Inc.
Standard Improvement Company
Strasser True Value
Tivol Plaza Inc.
Victor Ross & Company Realtors
Vita Craft Corporation

Businesses that have given 25 years of continued Support: A F C Heating & Cooling, ABC Home Heating & Cooling, LLC, Able Auto Service, Arctic Air Heating & Cooling Company, Arrow Truck Sales Inc., Banks Pool & Spa Design, Beaver Foundation Repair, Bernstein-Rein Advertising, Inc., Blue Ridge Mazda, Blue Springs Ford, Blue Springs Truck Line Inc, Boan Heating & Cooling Inc., Bob D. Campbell & Company, Boelte-Hall, LLC, Bratton Bros Contracting Inc, Burke Travel Inc, Casey Brothers Sinclair Inc., Cates Service Co., Celebrity China & Crystal, City Wide Remodelers, Claymark Homes, Inc., Comcast Cable, Cottman Transmission Center, Cox Roofing, Credit Motors Inc., Dade Remodeling, Dave Cross Motors Inc, Don Kahan Motors, Enterprise Leasing Company of KS, LLC, Family Tree Nursery, Firestone Tire Service Centers, Foley Belsaw Company, Galen Boyer Motors Inc, Gary Crossley Ford Inc., George's Imports Ltd, Gerber Moving & Storage, Glitters Fine Jewelry, Grandview Furnace Company, Grant Renne & Sons Inc, Gunter Pest Management Inc., Industrial Lumber Company Inc., J&R Asphalt Paving & Concrete, Jewelry Arts Inc., Johnson County Guttering Co., Kansas City Chiefs Football Club, Kimbrough Roofing Inc., Larry L. Vaught Roofing Inc., Lee's Summit Honda, McCarthy Blue Springs Nissan Inc., Meredith Corp, Merriam Body Shop Inc., Meyers Turf Farms Inc., MHC Kenworth, Midwest Carpet Center Inc, Morse Chevrolet Company, Overland Park Jeep Inc., Ozark National Life Insurance, Patricia Stevens Model & Talent Agency, Pinnacle Career Institute, Posty Cards Inc, R. Trusty Construction Co., LLC., Reddi Services Inc., Renner Supply Co/Delden Mfg., Rob Sight Ford Lincoln, Roe Body Shop, Inc. Rosehill Gardens Inc., Seeburg Mufflers of MO Inc., Speak Family Legacy Chapels, Inc., Star Motors LTD, The AMCO Solution, Throroughbred Ford Inc, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., Wisner Concrete & Crack Repair, Witter Plumbing & Electrick, Wright Dental Care.

Thanks for all your support through the years, 
BBB Staff


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Charity Wednesdays: Local News Investigates SCTNow

NBC Action News recently investigated Stop Child Trafficking Now, also known as SCTNow and Strategic Global Initiatives.  The charity, based in New York, has started fundraising in Kansas City and there are concerns that, despite their claims, the money they raise will not be used to help fight child trafficking her in KC.

According to the Kansas City Star, KC is an emerging hub of human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery.

While the BBB's Wise Giving Alliance is working to develop a comprehensive report on this nationally-soliciting charity, I invite you to learn more about child trafficking from the BBB Accredited Charity, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scams of the Week: November 1, 2011

NiGen BioTech, LLC - They advertise a weight loss product called the "HCG solution." Already, the FDA has outlawed HCG homeopathic weight loss supplements.  This one doesn't say it's homeopathic, but I don't see much difference. It caught my eye because of the incredible advertisement they published. It says,

"But do they really work? To tell you the truth, almost every expert will say either "absolutely not," "The reduced calorie diet plan caused the weight loss" or "the weight loss was the result of the placebo effect." Yet the fact remains that tens of thousands of men and women swear by it... just ask your friends."

I was dumbfounded.  They're saying that it's universally reviled by weight loss experts and dietitians, but if you ask someone with no qualifications whatsoever, they'll say it works. It's an interesting tactic. I suppose it will only work on people who don't believe "almost every expert."

All City Management Group - Another timeshare resale company that claims to be in the area. Their website is (surprise surprise) privately registered, so no details about the company can be ascertained. They claim to be at an address without a suite number or address letter. They say that they have a buyer lined up for their victims' timeshares, but they have an 8% finder's fee.

Investment Negotiation Email - "I want to know if you are willing and capable of partnering with me on this investment..." That's about all you need to read before hitting "send to spam folder." It's from someone you've never heard of, emailing from angelkofiangel@kimo.com. It's a variation of the Nigerian email scam, only with a clever twist...it's from Cote d'Ivoire. How clever.

Easy Financial Services - They want victims to Wire money to some guy in Canada to secure a loan. Illegal on lots of levels They claim to be at 2500 Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles and have the phone number 213-438-9795

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Charity Wednesday - The Harm that Comes with Donating 'Stuff'

A friend of mine just lost most of her posessions in a house fire.  Like many people, my first reaction was to think "Hmmm. . . what do we have around here that I could pass her way.  What stuff can I give her?" But because of the work I do, my next thought was "No, not stuff.  What she needs is money.  Maybe gift cards.  Not my excess junk."  See, my friend's life is being redefined in the wake of her tragedy.  While she sorts out what needs to be done and how she'll recover, the old flannel sheets I have in my closet probably don't fit into her recovery plan.  The bed she's sleeping on at her mom's house is probably the wrong size, and it may not be the right size for the new bed she'll get  after sorting through the bigger issues like how she'll pay for the rebuilding of her home. Giving her my old sheets would be an easy and low-cost way for me to give. But it wouldn't help her.  If anything, they'd be a burden for her store until maybe someday she does have a use for them.  

If my goal in giving is to help my friend, or anyone else facing hardship, then what I should do, what I will do, is give her resources that are actually helpful.  In my friend's case, that will be cash.

After every major disaster or well-publicisized tragedy, there is always a rush for people to 'collect stuff' for those affected.  I know some people who do it because it's a basic way to give that is easy for their kids to understand.  At their core, 'in-kind' donations evoke a quaint  simplicity and feeling of 'pitching in'.  Like Amish barn raisings.  But truth is, 'in-kind' donations often place a burden on recipients.  Stuff has to be transported. Stuff has to be sorted. If, as is often the case, stuff isn't needed immediately, stuff has to be stored.

And in communities where businesses have been affected - think Joplin - 'stuff' should be supplied by local retailers.  After the tornado, lots of people went to Wal Mart stores in Kansas City to buy toiletries for Joplin.  But it was the Joplin stores - the places that hire displaced people and the places that generate badly needed tax revenue - that needed the business.

The same goes for donations abroad. This article in Philanthropy Today mentions how when the US unloads its surplus abroad, ostensibly to help people, it actually hurts local economies by driving down prices and zapping the market for local goods.

Real relief comes when we focus more on those we wish to help than on our own experience of giving.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Scams of the Week: October 21, 2011

There are an array of different scams this week. First off, I want to get those people out of the way who claim to be affiliated with the BBB, but are not. Some companies try to lure customers into a false sense of security by claiming BBB Accreditation.  It's trademark violation and fraud.

Assured Recovery - [Edit] The company contacted the BBB, apologized for the logo misuse and provided the BBB with evidence that they've ceased the use of our Logo. We met with a representative of the company to ensure that further violations will be avoided.

Costume Hub, LLC - We've repeatedly told this F-rated company to remove our logo from their website. Every attempt at conversation has been rebuffed by silence. The company's complaints generally allege a failure to ship products in a timely manner, failure to ship products by the "guaranteed" delivery date, shipping the wrong product, wrong size, and refusing guaranteed refunds. They also make the unverifiable claim that they have the lowest prices.  Considering many consumers don't get what they pay for, the price doesn't matter anyway.

Now that we've got the logo-violators out of the way, here are the rest of the scams for the week.

Styling Tresses - An online wig store with striking similarity to the complaints received against Costume Hub, failure to deliver products, failure to ship in a timely manner, wrong sizes, etc. They, too, have an F rating with the Better Business Bureau.

US Protection - A traditional phishing scam that claims to be in Phoenix, AZ. They obtained the numbers to government issued unemployment prepaid cards, but don't seem to have access to the accounts. They are calling people to get their information so they can steal unemployment funds.







Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Grey Area of False Advertising

Most people don't realize the complexity of false advertising.  Many people assume when an ad is misleading, it is false advertising.  Not so.  For something to be considered "false advertising" it must meet additional criteria.

It must be interpreted from the viewpoint of someone who reasonably discerns the meaning of advertisements. If other consumers will likely interpret an ad in the same incorrect way, it would be considered a "misleading" advertisement. I have received phone calls from people who considered an advertisement misleading, but their interpretation of the advertisement was unreasonable. In fact, the term "false advertising" is flung around so often, I'm afraid it will lose its importance.

Pepsi had a commercial in the 90s for their Pepsi Stuff rewards system. At the end of the commercial, it claimed that a Harrier jet would be 7,000,000 Pepsi Points and showed a kid land one in front of his school.  Some guy tried to claim the jet by buying $700,000 worth of Pepsi.  A federal court ruled that "no objective person could reasonably have concluded that the commercial actually offered consumers a Harrier jet." For reference, each Harrier Jet costs $30,000,000 (30M) and the program to develop them cost $6,500,000,000 (6.5B), putting the actual cost of each harrier at about $85,000,000 (85M).

It must be likely to affect a consumer's buying decision. It has to have the ability to sway their decision of whether or not to buy. It has to be enticing. The advertisement may have incorrect information, but if it is not essential to the product being sold, then it's probably not going to be considered false advertising. This criteria has all but vanished. Nearly every defendant in a false advertising case used to say that the case against them was trivial and had little effect on consumers' buying decisions.  Because so many defendants claimed this, judges stopped taking the plea seriously.  The FTC rarely has to establish this criteria in court cases.What it means in actual practice is that the FTC or other consumer protection agencies rarely prosecute over small amounts of money obtained through false advertising.

It must be likely to mislead a "substantial number" of customers who read the ad. According to the BBB's resources, "Neither the FTC nor the courts have identified a threshold level or percentage of consumers that will satisfy the "substantial number" test."  Instead, The FTC tries to identify the reaction of the group targeted by the advertisement.  If that group is likely to be misled, the advertisement will probably be challenged. So, it has basically been turned into an addendum to the first criteria.

It must be intentional. Typos don't count. If a customer sees a brand new Cadillac Escalade on sale for $6,317, a reasonable consumer should assume that the advertiser simply forgot to put a zero on the end of the price.  The consumer cannot demand that the dealer sell the vehicle for $50,000 below sticker price because of a typo. If an advertiser does not include information because he thinks it unimportant, only to find that people were misled by its omission, the advertiser is responsible for misleading his customers. Mostly, businesses are not held liable for honest mistakes, as long as they are rectified in a timely manner.

False Advertising is a tricky beast to tackle. There is so much information about it, that it's difficult to become an expert on the subject.  There are city ordinances, state laws and regulations, federal laws and regulations, and a considerable number of court cases that set precedent for how laws are interpreted. For instance, there are many state laws that say only that ads can't be "misleading" and don't give any details.  At that point it is up to lawyers and courts to determine if the advertisement was, in fact, misleading. Court cases set precedent for the cases to follow until they have successfully defined what actually is misleading and what is not.  To give an idea of how much information on advertising law exists, I have included a picture of my reference materials for Advertising Review.


In those books and papers are about 4000 pages of laws, regulations, policies and court decisions involving misleading advertisements. Even with extensive rules, regulations and laws, ethical grey areas simmer just below the brim of false advertising, neither honest, nor illegal, surfacing and receding, flirting with our tolerance threshold.

I ran across a company that offered coaching sessions to help people get their website-based businesses up and running.  The website said the sessions were hosted by professional consultants. The program cost $4000 for 8 sessions--$500 for each half-hour session. Steep, but people were willing to pay for professional consultations.  It turned out that the "consultation sessions" were Q&A sessions via phone with low-wage operators who read from a script.  For $1000 an hour, budding entrepreneurs could hire a top-notch expert business consultant to personally address the issues for their individual websites.  They got ripped off.  But it would be hard to prosecute this company for engaging in "false advertising." After all, they did give coaching sessions, even though they were second-rate, and the company only claimed that a "professional" would coach them, not an "expert."

There is also a group of meaningless words in advertising. "Best" is chief among the meaningless words.  Advertisers figured out that the word "best" is completely subjective.  When someone says they got the "best deal" on some thingamajig, others my have a different opinion of the price or value of said thingamajig.  So ads constantly and perpetually use "Best." Best deal. Best Store in Town. Best Prices. Best Value. Etc. On occasion, I have challenged the use of the word, but rarely. After all, it is subjective.

Another meaningless advertising word is "unique." Technically, everything is unique in some way. A flaw in a pair of blue jeans makes it unique. Two side-by-side red Lego® pieces, identical in every way, are both unique because only one of them is to the left and only one of them is to the right.  Advertisers picked up on this and started advertising the "unique" tastes of mass produced food products. It may be terrible, but if you make "unique" sound like a compliment, then it gives the impression of superiority....sometimes. The worst is when firms say that they offer a unique experience for their clientele. It can give the impression that the client will have information and expertise lacking in their competitors.  This can be very close to false advertising because they may not offer anything particular that other companies do not.  They get away with it because something, somehow is a just a little different, and therefore "unique." Consumers should just keep in mind that "unique" does not mean "better."

Use of the words above is commonly referred to as "puffery"--exaggerations expected to be made by the seller based on his or her own opinion of the product or service.  Sometimes the use of these words are acceptable and accurate. Other times, they blur the line between false advertising and acceptable boasting.

If something just sounds too good to be true, but you can't place your finger on why that is, look for the above examples. Look for details about the product or service before buying. Ask friends. Look at Consumer Reports and Angie's List if you're a subscriber.  Contact the BBB and obtain a business review. These things will help you evaluate the information you're provided from an advertisement.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Too Much Pink?

Driving around Kansas City last weekend, I couldn't help but notice the pink flowing from our treasured fountains. And retail outlets of all types these days are awash in an interesting mix of pink products and orange pumpkins.  Yes, it's breast cancer awareness month and you can't miss it. 

Since Susan G. Komen for the Cure introduced pink ribbons as symbol of the fight against breast cancer in 1991, the color pink has become linked to the cause.

Looking for a way to connect with consumers, many companies have jumped at the chance to connect their brands and products the breast cancer fight through cause-related marketing.  Typically, products - ranging from yogurt to handguns - used in this manner will have pink packaging and wording indication how the purchase of the product will help Komen or other charities fighting breast cancer. 

Does the influx of all the pink help people stop and think about what they can do to help fight breast cancer (Has mom had a mammogram?  Did I give enough to my neighbor when she did that walk?), or as asked in this Associated Press report, has it become a distraction?  Is it just another way to differentiate between products?

For it's part, Susan G. Komen for the Cure stands behind the pink madness. It says all that pink helps the organization fund research for better treatments and cures.  Says Leslie Aun, a Komen spokeswoman, "We don't think there's enough pink. We're able to make those investments in research because of programs like that."

The BBB advises that consumers take caution when purchasing products advertised as helping charities.  All products touting support of a charity should clearly disclose how much of the purchase price (i.e. 50 cents, 10%, etc.) of the product will be donated to a cause, any donation limit (for example, up to $100,000) and the duration of the cause-related marketing campaign.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Scams of the Week: October 12, 2011

Indivision Consulting Company - This business is a work at home scheme. They claim to be at "600 Broadway" in Kansas City, but like most scams, they don't give a suite number, making it difficult to verify if they are there.  The building has multiple suites and no one, not even the property manager of the building can use the address without adding a suite number and expect to get any mail. The website has some testimonials on there. However, the website has only been around for 20 days.

Facebook Chat Window Phishing - This is a small twist on the normal phishing scams. This one doesn't show up on a person's wall, but a chat window. The window says that the user's Facebook information needs to be verified or the account will be closed.

MBA - A foreign lottery from Auckland, New Zealand.  At any point that anyone claims that you've won the lottery or a sweepstakes from outside the country, know that it is a scam. It is always a scam and always will be.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Scams of the Week: October 6, 2011

Bottom Dollar Payday Loans - An unlicensed online payday loan business that has a PO Box in Overland Park, KS.  We've received quite a few complaints on them in the past few months about unauthorized debits from people's accounts. The consumers find it impossible to get a hold of the business to straighten it out. In response to all complaints, the company says that they're sorry and the customer should just give them a call. So, even though no one can get a hold of them, they're proposed resolution is for the consumer to call the number that they actively ignore.

Imperial Distribution Company - From Ontario. They send mailing stating that consumers have won $10,000 and ask for a "processing fee" of $29.95. Consumers haven't won anything. They pay the money and they get nothing in return.

Burkhart Mobile Homes - Scam may be accurate, maybe not.  Steve Burkhart takes money from people who want to purchase mobile homes and rarely delivers.  He tells customer after customer that after a few weeks of repairs, the mobile home will be ready.  Most customers call Burkhart for months on end and are given excuses as to why the mobile home isn't ready.  On the occasions that the buyer actually gets to move in, they are rarely given the title. The liens aren't paid. Nobody but Steve Burkhart seems to know where the money is at any given time. Problem Solvers and Linda Wagar did a segment on one of Burkhart's unlucky customers. Here are parts one, two and three.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Charity Wednesday - Upcoming Trainings at Nonprofit Connect

Need help with your grantwriting skills? Want to learn how to better market your nonprofit?  Wish you could just hire an intern to do all the gruntwork?  Then check out the upcoming trainings at Nonprofit Connect.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Scams of The Week: September 28, 2011

Facebook Hack and Grant Scam - Every once in a while, we post Facebook scams here.  They are so numerous and prolific, that we only post the most widespread.  However, this one is different.  It's not just a phishing scam, trying to get your personal info for unscrupulous marketing purposes; they're trying to steal your money in a sophisticated con.  The scammer pretends to be someone you know and tries to talk you into applying for a government grant.  They convince victims to wire money to a grant writer in order to secure the grant.  This con job may seem complicated, but it can be done by one person.  One person can have several chat windows open at the same time, claiming to be several different people and having them all wire money to a "grant writer" who is actually the scammer himself.

Wells Fargo Fakers - Con men claiming to be with Wells Fargo are telling people over the phone that they will close people's account, due to security issues, if they are not provided with verification of the victim's bank account number and debit card number, including security code, of course.  They are calling from 913-649-1595.  One of our complaint analysts called the number from the BBB main line and it was out of service. However, a call from a cell phone goes right through. I don't know how they managed that.

DLR Sales - An envelope stuffing firm that is soliciting in the area.  We've gotten some calls. I can't say this enough, ALL ENVELOPE STUFFING COMPANIES ARE SCAMS. All of them. Always. Forever. For more information about why they're scams, check out a previous post of ours.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Charity Wednesday: Charitable Contributions Make Great Holiday Gifts

As of this writing, there are only 94 days until Christmas.  And this cooler weather is definitely making me think about our holiday plans.    

Like many, I love the holidays, but dread the search for the perfect gift for everyone on my list. Economic forecasts for the ever-important holiday shopping season aren't great. Unemployment and underemployment, and high gas prices certainly have something to do with that.  But another factor may be that everyone else shares my dread. 

Charities, already weathering a tough giving climate, are likely to have a challenging holiday season, too.

So here's my plea to consider honoring your family and friends this season by making a donation to a cause they support.   Maybe the surest way, finally, into Aunt Bertha's heart is through a donation to the local stray cat rescue group?   The BBB Wise Giving Alliance and the BBB of Greater Kansas City have reviews of local and national charities to help you make smart giving choices.  

One of my most treasured gifts of years past was a bee-hive a friend gave in my name to a family in need through the Heifer Project.  The bee hive gave a poor family a source of income.  A much better choice on her part than, say, than a box of chocolates my sweet tooth could do without.

Another way to support charities this holiday season is through Giving Cards sold by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. Similar to a pre-loaded debit card, these cards enable your recipient to choose as their beneficiary any 501 (c) 3 charitable organization, including schools, churches, and synagogues.

So as you start making lists of what to buy for whom, consider making lasting gifts that won't clutter up anyone's home or add to any waist lines.  Giving through charities is a guaranteed way to make lots of people happy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Charity Wednesday: Pay Attention to a Critic's Own Bias

When scanning through my Google Alerts for charity scams, this story by the St. Louis Dispatch caught my attention.  It seems that Mother's Against Drunk Driving (aka MADD), a BBB accredited charity, has gotten some flack lately from the American Beverage Institute (ABI), a lobbying organization that supports the interests of restaurants and bars that serve alcohol. 

Like many charities, the economy has been hard on the MADD's fundraising efforts.  It appears that the ratio of what they spend on programs to what they earn through fundraising may be down slightly.  Jumping on this information, ABI is warning potential donors about the pitfalls of donating to MADD.

But is ABI a benevolent champion of curbing drunk driving simply urging concerned citizens not to donate to an ineffective charity, or are they exaggerating facts to try to silence an organization they see as a threat to their members? You make your own decision.  I'll just say that I follow the logic of Slate Magazine's William Saletan  when, in a similar piece, he notes "If MADD were truly ineffective, ABI would be happy to let MADD's donors go on wasting their money. ABI is trying to defund MADD not because MADD diverts money from drunken-driving crackdowns, but because MADD spends money on drunken-driving crackdowns."

ABI is a very vocal opponent of alcohol-detectors in cars.  MADD, in its efforts to ensure that intoxicated persons do not operate what my mother calls "lethal weapons on wheels"  is a strong proponent of the development of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS).  ABI perceives that the businesses it represents would stand to loose money if such a system were routinely installed in vehicles.  It's easy to connect the dots and see why they'll jump on any news that will keep MADD from succeeding.

I'm not an unbiased reporter of this information.  As a mother, I know that the most dangerous place for my kids is my minivan - no matter how much I spent on their car seats.  And a dear family friend had a son who should be in his early 30's, but because of a drunk driver will be forever six years old. 

But this story is a good lesson on not taking criticism at face value.  Everyone has an agenda.  In our relationships with charities, its good to know where our favorite organizations stand with supporters and detractors.  And why.  

Charity Wednesdays: Philanthropy Midwest Conference: Oct 17-18

If you are in any way involved with a nonprofit, do yourself a favor and attend this year's Philanthropy Midwest Conference. This year it will be held at the Kansas City Convention Center, October 17-18. 

I make it a point to attend this event every year and I always come away with something that helps me professionally and in the private work I do with charities.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Scams of the Week: September 13, 2011

Consumers Global Awards - They claim that winners can claim $850,000. All they have to do is wire off a measly $850 to pay for advance taxes. The customer would have to wire the money via Western Union to Leroy Leslie, 401 M St. Queens, NY.  Of course, it's probably just someone claiming to be Leroy Leslie. If a person has less than $1000 wired to them, they don't have to show ID. The recipient also doesn't have to show up at a particular location, so once the money is sent, there's no way to track where the recipient went. They throw around names like Publishers Clearinghouse, and, surprisingly, the Better Business Bureau.  It's Bogus. They call from a Vegas area code 702-765-4513 and 1-888-685-4999.

First US Title - They are the supposed Escrow company for a timeshare resale company called Goldstein & Barnes.  I've posted several advisories on scams just like these two earlier this year.  This one claims to be in Kansas City and is, in all likelihood, a reincarnation of a scam that has claimed to be here before.

Fast Unsecured Cash Loans - It is extremely dangerous to get an online payday loan. The incredible majority, if not all of them, are scams of some sort or another. This doesn't even list a physical address or phone number. If you have any questions or concerns, you would be out of luck. The weirdest thing about this site is that they have a bunch of links to products sold on Amazon.com. So, while they are trying to get you to commit to a loan that you will probably never be able to pay back, they are shilling for products that you couldn't afford or you wouldn't be on their site. So weird.

Friday, September 9, 2011

New Law Breaks Bad Roofing Habits

On June 30, 2011, Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill into law that intends to curb unscrupulous roofing sales tactics. Before working for the Better Business Bureau, I was a roofer for eight years. Roofing paid my way through my first two years of college and I remember my time in the sun fondly. With my experience as a roofer and complaint analyst for the BBB, I realized that a law was inevitable because of the behavior of a considerable number of roofing companies--some local businesses, some out-of-area stormchasers.

The new law prohibits contractors from advertising or promising to pay any amount of an insurance deductible. It extends the consumer's right of rescission (right to cancel contract) from three days to five days, when concerning insurance claims. This must be printed in the contract.  If the contract is cancelled, the contractor must return any payments to the customer within ten days. This prevents businesses from purchasing materials for the job and then demanding payment within a couple days of entering a contract.  The most important part of the law forbids contractors from representing or negotiating with an insurance carrier on behalf of the homeowner.  The Kansas City Better Business Bureau has warned roofing companies to avoid this business tactic for more than a year. It is a sad occasion where the industry could not regulate itself and the legislature was forced to act.

Roofers negotiating with homowners' insurance carriers became commonplace when an unscrupulous company called American Shingle brought their tactics to Missouri from their headquarters in Atlanta.  Even though we warned businesses not to adopt their methods, roofers felt compelled to do so to remain competitive.  We issued a warning to consumers stating, "A business with a vested interest in getting your money should not have power to make home repair decisions for you. Whether or not the company's intentions are honorable, there is no need to take such steps for a roof. It is your money and your home. If you don't feel qualified to make decisions about home repair, find a trusted individual and ask them to do it for you."

Roofers informed homeowners that they would deal directly with insurance companies, making sure that insurance adjusters did not miss any damage. This never made sense, because it is the roofer's responsibility to provide the EXACT SAME information in a formal estimate, which the homeowner could then turn over to the insurance company.  Getting an estimate gives the homeowner the chance to get other estimates and feel no obligation to file a claim with the insurance company if the damage is minor. Roofers asked homeowners to sign a contract in advance of any bid and to file an claim with their insurance companies.  This caused problems when insurance companies would deny claims, even with the "help" of the roofer present during the appraisal.  These claims counted against the homeowners' policies and they received nothing but wasted time (sometimes homeowners would have to pay their deductible to fix minor issues, and it still counted against their policy).  Roofers frequently pointed out issues that were not important or not caused by hail.  Many stormchasers breezed through town and had homeowners file claims with their insurance company for hail damage even though the area had not received hail for years. Worst of all, several roofers had in their contract, no matter how much money was approved by the insurance company, the checks would be paid directly to the roofer.  If the cost of the roofing job fell thousands of dollars below payout, the roofers kept the difference.  Some stormchasers went as far as cutting corners to make the difference larger. American Shingle was in possession of 3000 such payouts when they went out of business, leaving thousands of customers with damaged roofs, no money to fix them, and a higher insurance payment.

Innumerable roofers gave consumers the impression that insurance companies would stiff them if they didn't have a roofer present during the appraisal. Many are still making that claim (in the comments). First of all, homeowners can provide a company's written estimate  to the insurance company in advance (or three companies' written estimates, which the adjuster prefers). Therefore the insurance adjuster must address why they will not cover something that needs to be repaired. Also, even if the insurance company tries to stiff the homeowner, the insurance industry is highly regulated.  The homeowner can report their activity to the Missouri Department of Insurance. No such higher regulatory authority exists to specifically regulate roofers.

The new law may not be popular with some roofing companies, especially stormchasers, but it should also be easy to comply with it.  The roofing industry will essentially revert back to the way it was before American Shingle came in and messed it all up.

9/11 - Ten Years Later, Still Give Wisely

From our friends at the Metro New York BBB:

Give with Both Head and Heart When Supporting
9/11 Charities

New York, NY – September 8, 2011 – Ten years after September 11, 2001, Americans remain deeply moved by the tragedy of that day and generously willing to aid those who still suffer from the impact of 9/11 events. A number of charities, both old and new, are currently soliciting donations in order to respond to ongoing needs of victims and their families, to support 9/11 memorials, and to carry out other legitimate 9/11 related purposes. However, recent news reports have suggested that some charities that solicited funds in the name of 9/11 relief did not apply the funds appropriately. It is wise to be wary.

BBB recommends: do your homework before giving to the 9/11 cause of your choice. Here are some tips to consider if you are approached with a 9/11 related giving opportunity, especially one that seems unfamiliar, or that is similar to the name of a well-known charity.

Ask questions about why the charity still needs to collect 9/11 related money now. What ongoing purposes are they serving that flow from the events of 9/11? You can request written details from the charity about what it does with the donations.

Check with the IRS at www.irs.gov/app/pub-78/ to verify the organization’s tax exempt status. In New York State, you can also verify charity registration through the New York State
Attorney General’s Charities Bureau at www.charitiesnys.com.

Contact your BBB to get BBB charity reviews on 9/11 related charities. See national BBB charity reviews at www.bbb.org/charity. Metro New York area charity reviews are also available through www.newyork.bbb.org.

Contact us at nypas@newyork.bbb.org to suggest a charity for BBB review, and to report any unfamiliar organizations that are collecting 9/11 funds now.

In the months following the 9/11 disaster, the Metro New York BBB Foundation’s New York Philanthropic Advisory Service surveyed 9/11 related charities and published a report about its findings. To view that report Click Here.