The holidays are here again, and with the price of gas lower than it’s been in years, it’s likely more people will choose to hit the road this holiday season. If you’re one of those travelers, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers some basic tips to help keep you safe and maybe save you some money.

Prepare a budget – Planning is important. Make a little room in your budget by allowing for unexpected occurrences and emergencies.

Be resourceful – Book hotel rooms in advance and consider exploring money-saving sites like Priceline or Hotels.com. See if there are any good discount (such as Groupon) offers in the city you’re visiting.

Avoid unnecessary costs – Don’t find yourself trapped by additional charges or fees. For example, avoid hotel room phones, which often carry hefty surcharges. When you’re on the road, travel with a cooler and purchase snacks ahead of time. It’s a lot cheaper than the hotel mini-fridge.

Create a car safety kit – Holiday driving often includes the threat of dangerous winter weather. Snow and ice can lead to accidents, car troubles, long delays and road closures. You can be ready for bad weather by creating your own safety kit. Basics for the kit include a blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, non-perishable foods like granola bars and nuts, bottled water, an ice scraper and warm gloves. Having a cellphone charger for your car is also a good idea.

Get a tune-up – If your car is due for a tune-up, take it in before making that long haul. At the very least, check the car’s fluid levels, wipers and tire pressure. Check the condition of your tires and, if you plan on driving through serious winter weather, consider getting snow tires.

Take BBB with you – When you’re away from home or in the midst of an emergency, it’s hard to know which businesses such as tow trucks and locksmiths you can trust. The good news is that free BBB Business Reviews are optimized for smartphones. Now you can easily find businesses you can trust when you’re on the go by visiting bbb.org.

Get an early start and take your time – The best way to fight holiday traffic is to give yourself some extra time to make the trip, and don’t speed. Also, if you’re caught speeding by law enforcement, that adds travel time and puts a dent in your holiday budget.

Drop the distractions – A lot of tragic accidents take place when people are talking on their cellphone or sending text messages. When you’re behind the wheel, don’t text and drive. Let incoming calls go to voicemail or hand your cellphone to a passenger and let them take the call. Also, don’t make or return calls – or send or read – text messages until you reach a safe spot off the road, such as a rest area or a gas station.

For the latest fraud alerts, consumer news and free BBB Business Reviews, visit bbb.org.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 

Some people support their favorite charities and causes throughout the year, but many wait until the holidays to extend the spirit of the season to those in need in their communities and throughout the world. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers some DOs and DON’Ts that apply year-round when it comes to charitable giving, and these tips will help ensure your donations reach their intended destinations this holiday season.

DON’T succumb to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, and if a telemarketer or person on your doorstep plays the guilt card things may not be what they seem. Well-run charities won’t impose on you or put you in a tough spot. They will welcome your donation just as much after you’ve had time to do your due diligence.

DO research the charity. Make sure you feel comfortable with how your money will be spent. Don’t just take the word of someone else; the most important action a donor can take before donating is to check the trustworthiness of the charity. BBB Wise Giving Alliance (give.org) evaluates charitable organizations on 20 holistic standards covering governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, appeal accuracy and other issues to assist donors in making informed giving decisions.

DON’T give out your credit card number over the phone. The days where you could give out sensitive financial information over the phone are over. With the number of fraudulent solicitors out there, you want to be sure your information – personal and financial – stays secure. Go directly to the website of the charity you’re supporting and make your donation there. Always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// or in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before making your donation.

DO be sure it’s the right charity. With so many similar-sounding organizations, names can blur in a donor’s mind. Many phony charities purposefully choose a name that sounds similar to more familiar, legitimate outfits. Do the legwork and make sure your gift reaches the group or cause you’re looking to support. Donors can research BBB Wise Giving Alliance evaluations on nationally soliciting charities for free anytime at give.org.

DON’T assume that the charity wants any item you donate. Worn out, unusable or unwanted goods cost charities millions of dollars each year because the organization has to bear the cost of disposing of unacceptable donations. If you have questions about an item’s acceptability, visit a given charity’s website or call them directly and ask.

DO consider easy text-to-give options. BBB Mobile Giving Foundation makes it easy to give smaller donations (usually $10) to charities they monitor, including those providing relief to victims of famine and natural disasters the world over. Visit mobilegiving.org to learn more.

Lastly, if you’re planning on claiming your donations as tax deductions, verify the charities you’re supporting have received their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 

 

 

 

 

The fifth annual Small Business Saturday, which takes place November 29th this year, is a day designed to support and promote small businesses during the long and busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is helping to spread awareness of Small Business Saturday and encouraging businesses and consumers to participate.

Falling between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” Small Business Saturday can be a fun part of your holiday weekend schedule.  By staying local, you’ll support the small businesses that helped create the identity of your community. This yearly event is a great way to show your support for these local “mom and pop” shops that make your home feel like home.

BBB is working with American Express OPEN to assist in getting the word out about Small Business Saturday. Businesses benefit not only from increased customer awareness, but also from the many free marketing tools offered online by Small Business Saturday partners: United States Postal Service, Foursquare, Fed Ex Office, and Twitter. Free signage, shipping, ads, and more can be accessed online at facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday.

Some consumers also have the opportunity to take advantage of an American Express statement credit offer. American Express is offering card members the opportunity to get a $10 statement credit when they enroll their eligible American Express Card and then use it to spend $10 or more in a single in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location on Small Business Saturday. Registration is limited.

Shopping small is the theme of Small Business. Small businesses are the heart of our communities and everyone is invited to join the 200 organizations that have already teamed up with American Express OPEN in designating the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday.

Remember to research companies for free at www.bbb.org, and for more information on Small Business Saturday, visit smallbusinesssaturday.com.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 

The Thanksgiving holiday is right around the corner, and some retailers have already announced at least some of their Black Friday deals. Though more and more stores are opening their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving – Black Friday – will remain one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is offering advice for people making plans to capitalize on Black Friday savings offers.

“Though the impact of Black Friday shopping might be at least somewhat diluted with some stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, we still believe it will be a day where many folks will focus their holiday shopping – and bargain-hunting – efforts,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

The National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday sales will increase by more than 4% this year. As always, retailers will compete feverishly to get shoppers to visit their stores – and their websites! Whether you’ll be doing your holiday shopping on Black Friday or beyond, be sure to keep these BBB tips in mind to help ensure a satisfactory experience:

  • Research the company. Visit bbb.org or call 800-646-6222 to obtain free Business Reviews. Remember, BBB Business Reviews have been optimized for smartphones.
  • Getting the real deal.  Do you know if a sale is really a sale?  Many times companies boast “70 percent off,” but 70 percent off what? It always pays to comparison shop. If a company is advertising a “Going out of Business” sale, don’t automatically assume they are offering the best prices in town. Take the time to check prices on the same items at other stores.
  • Search for Black Friday Ads Ahead of Time. Some retailers have ‘gone for it,’ announcing their Black Friday specials well in advance of Friday, November 28. Newspapers often have coupons that outline store discounts for Black Friday, and some specials are posted on the Internet. By keeping your eyes open and nose to the ground, you can sniff out deals others might miss.
  • Return policies, restocking fees and refunds.  Ask for the store’s return policy before you make your purchase. Companies are not required to give you your money back, but they need to post their return policy prominently near the cashier. Also, always ask about restocking fees, and save your receipts in one place so you don’t lose them.  Many companies will require you to produce a receipt for a return. Ask for a gift receipt.
  • Watch out for deals too good to be true. While many retailers offer ‘doorbusters’ – specials that are eye-opening – some websites offer suspiciously low prices on sought-after goods in an effort to entice shoppers into turning over their credit card information. Stick to trustworthy websites and look for the BBB seal and other recognized “trust marks.” Be sure to click on the seals to confirm they are valid.
  • Gift cards. Gift cards regularly top consumers’ wish lists. Federal rules govern gift card sales, and those rules state:
  • An inactivity fee cannot be charged until the card has not been used for 12 months.
  • Gift cards cannot expire for at least 5 years.
  • No more than one fee (of any kind) can be charged to the cardholder in a single month.
  • Information printed on the card must disclose fees and expiration date and provide a toll-free phone number or website where you can get more information.
  • A one-time fee can be charged when you buy the card, though this generally only applies to gift cards purchased through your credit card company – not those purchased directly from stores and restaurants.
  • If you receive a gift card, you should redeem it promptly if, possible.

Finally, consumers should keep in mind there will be many more opportunities for savings as we go through the long holiday season.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 

 

 

The Great Recession is over, but its effects are still being felt. One of those effects saw layaway plans reintroduced into the marketplace. With many shoppers still minding budgets and searching for more affordable methods of paying for big-ticket items, layaway plans are worth exploring. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is offering advice on how to use this payment plan in lieu of credit cards.

Once considered a dated, old-fashioned method of payment, layaway services are back, with many retailers dusting offering payment plans for today’s more frugal consumers. Buying items on layaway is different from putting them on a credit card because the buyer isn’t charged interest on the purchase and can’t take the item home until it is paid off. When purchasing items on layaway, the buyer must typically make a down payment of 10 to 20 percent and pay any service or plan fees for the store to hold the item for them. The customer then typically has 30 to 90 days to make periodic payments to pay off the balance. Once it is paid off, the customer can take the item home.

“For many people, layaway plans are a preferable alternative to taking on more debt via their credit cards,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

As a complement to in-store layaway, some stores provide online layaway services for purchasing items through the retailer’s website. Additionally, third-party businesses have sprung up for the purpose of setting up layaway plans online between customers and retailers that don’t already have a layaway program. Customers make periodic payments to the third-party layaway service provider. Once the item is fully paid for, the business then buys the item from the retailer and ships it to the customer.

When buying items on layaway, the BBB advises consumers to get everything in writing and offers the following checklist of questions to ask:

• How much time do I have to pay off the item?

• When are the payments due?

• How much do I have to put down?

• Are there any storage or service plan fees?

• What happens if I miss a payment? Are there penalties? Does the item return to inventory?

• Can I get a refund or store credit if I no longer want the item after making a few payments?

• What happens if the item goes on sale after I’ve put it on layaway?

• Does the retailer or third-party layaway service have a good BBB rating? Research them for free at www.bbb.org.

For more advice on how to be a savvy consumer this holiday season, visit bbb.org.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 


 

As part of their outreach to the military community, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota’s local Military Line (BBB) program has partnered with the Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance to create a specially-designed tri-fold handout containing tips on scams targeting servicemembers and their families, as well as a list of community resources they can turn to when they have questions, concerns or need assistance.

The handout, which was first distributed at a MACV StandDown event in Mankato on Wednesday, November 12 – and is now widely available to the military community – is designed in muted colors, to be user-friendly for veterans suffering from symptoms due to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Reports indicate that up to 20 percent of returning veterans exhibit symptoms of having sustained traumatic brain injuries. People suffering from these symptoms find brighter colors and densely-worded materials off-putting and have difficulty processing information formatted in standard fashion.

“This information is important to all servicemembers and veterans, and when we designed this handout, we did so in such a way that it would be accessible to all,” said Lisa Jemtrud, Director of BBB’s Institute for Marketplace Ethics. “Our goal is to reach and help protect everyone, but especially those that need our help most.”

BBB’s new handout for veterans and servicemembers, as well as their families and caregivers, includes:

  • Tips on scams targeting military personnel and their families – and how to avoid them
  • An index of resources available to veterans
  • Information on payday loans and pension scams
  • A list of Do’s and Don’ts designed to protect personal information and help ensure financial security

For more than two years, BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota staff has made presentations at more than 100 events, reaching 10,000-plus people through workshops and military expos. BBB regularly provides information regarding employment scams at job fairs, offers resources to struggling veterans at StandDown events, conducts workshops on buying a car to veterans transitioning from various support programs and educates servicemembers and their families on how to be smart consumers in today’s fast-paced economy.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 


 

This year’s winners of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) Torch Awards for Ethics were named at a ceremony held today at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. BBB Torch Awards for Ethics recognize worthy companies that display an outstanding level of ethics and integrity in all of their business dealings.

The 2014 BBB Torch Award winners are:

  • Category I (1-10 employees):

JD Haas and Associates PLLC, Bloomington, MN

  • Category II (11-50 employees):

ICC Restoration and Cleaning Services, Woodbury, MN

  • Category III (51+ employees):

KleinBank, Chaska, MN

“This is always an inspiring event,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “It serves to remind us how fortunate we are to be a part of a marketplace that is so vibrant, robust and anchored firmly on a solid bedrock of ethics.”

More than 250 business owners and community leaders attended today’s ceremony. Television and radio host Lee Valsvik once again served as emcee at the event, and Tony Heredia, Vice President, Strategy and Operations, within Community Relations at Target, was the keynote speaker.

“For the 15th year, the Torch Awards for Ethics have been presented to businesses in our community that demonstrate the highest standards of conducting business,” said David Aafedt, Chairman of the Board for BBB and shareholder at Winthrop & Weinstine. “We hope these admirable organizations serve as a beacon of leadership to help foster the continued growth of ethical practices throughout Minnesota and North Dakota.”

BBB also presented three area students with Student of Integrity Scholarships. These awards are presented to Minnesota and North Dakota high school seniors who demonstrate through essay their understanding of the importance of ethics. This year’s scholarship winners are:

  • Margaret Maurer, Forest Lake, MN – $2,500
  • Matthew Lagus, Stillwater, MN – $2,500
  • Samantha Goerger, Wyndmere, ND – $1,000

BBB presents the Torch Awards for Ethics each year to companies who exemplify ethical behavior and display integrity in all aspects of their operations. The Torch Awards are open to all for-profit businesses located within the Minnesota and North Dakota region. Nominees are offered the opportunity to submit an entry to the BBB, where a panel of independent volunteer business and community leaders review the entries and choose the winners.


Sponsors for the event are: CHS, Inc., Clear Channel Outdoor, Clear Channel Radio (Cities 97, KDWB, KFAN, News Talk 1130, K102, KOOL 108); Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal; NFP/Financial Concepts, Inc; Master Communications Group; and Rippe Print

Scholarship sponsors: CenterPoint Energy, Northland Group and Valley Pools and Spas

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 


College students have plenty to juggle when it comes to school, work and their social lives. Due to that level of activity, fighting fraud often doesn’t make the list of top priorities. However, college students are especially vulnerable to identity theft, and Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers a list of simple steps students can take to protect themselves on campus.

According to the 2014 Identity Fraud Survey Report released by Javelin Strategy and Research, more than 13 million people became victims of identity theft in 2013. Identity theft was once again – for the 14th straight year – the top complaint reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Last year, 14 percent of the two million complaints they received were related to identity theft, according to their 2013 annual report. The highest reported age group for identity theft was 20-29, comprising 20 percent of those complaints.

“Identity thieves don’t care if you’re a struggling student and don’t have a penny to your name; what attracts them is a clean credit record,” said Dana Badgerow, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “This is a problem all college students need to be thinking about.”

BBB recommends that college students take the following steps to keep their identity secure on campus:

  • Have sensitive mail sent to a permanent address such as the parents’ home or a PO Box. School mailboxes are not always secure and can often be easily accessed in a dorm or apartment.
  • Store important documents under lock and key, such as a filing cabinet or personal safe. This includes your Social Security card, passport and bank and credit card statements. Shred any paper documents that have sensitive financial information rather than just tossing them in the garbage. Also shred any unwanted credit card offers that come in the mail.
  • Never loan your credit or debit card to anyone, even if they are a friend. Also just say no if your friend wants you to co-sign for a loan or financing for goods like a TV or new computer.
  • Make sure your computer has up-to-date antivirus and spyware software. Always install any updates and patches to your computer’s operating system or browser software which help keep your computer safe from any new advances by identity thieves online.
  • Check your credit or debit card statements closely for any suspicious activity. The sooner you identify any potential fraud, the less you’ll suffer in the long run.
  • When shopping on unfamiliar websites, always research the company for free at bbb.org. Also look for the BBB Accredited Business seal along with other trust seals; be sure to click on those seals to confirm they are legitimate.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year with all three reporting bureaus for any suspicious activity or inaccuracies. You can do this for free by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 

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When you’re at your favorite coffee shop waiting for your drink to cool, the first thing you might do is open up your laptop and search for a Wi-Fi connection. Though it is a convenience, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) seeks to remind the public about the potential dangers of using public Wi-Fi networks.

Many businesses, particularly coffee shops, campus hangouts and even some retailers, have found that offering their patrons free Wi-Fi brings in more business and keeps customers coming back. However, it’s important for consumers to keep in mind that hackers sometimes target public Wi-Fi users to steal their personal information.

To avoid being hacked while using a public Wi-Fi connection, BBB recommends the following tips:

  • Verify the network before use. To verify a Wi-Fi network, simply ask an employee at the coffee shop what network they provide for customers. Also, is it password-protected?
  • Use common sense when you connect. If you’re signed in through an unsecured or unprotected network, be cautious about the sites you visit and the information you share.
  • Invest in your own personal hotspot
    • If you have a smartphone, you may also have a hotspot: a device that offers Internet access over a wireless local area network. All you have to do is contact your provider and set up a plan. Keep in mind, though, that while your own personal hotspot is convenient, it’s important to properly set up your security settings.
    • Cover up your keyboard when typing in usernames or passwords, as some hackers obtain information simply by glancing over your shoulder.
    • If you find a USB thumb drive on a coffee table, don’t use it. Some hackers leave USB thumb drives out in the open because they want you to use them. Once a compromised thumb drive is in your laptop, your personal information can be accessed.
    • Keep in mind that a computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.

In addition to the coffee shop crowd, hackers also target business travelers that spend much of their time in airports and hotels. Such travelers are often busy answering emails, returning phone calls and planning for their next meeting. When arriving at their hotel after a long day, they might check their email one last time before getting some rest. At such a time, though it may be tempting to simply shut the laptop and nod off, keep in mind that just because a computer is ‘closed,’ that doesn’t mean your information is safe. Always be sure to log out of your online accounts and close out all programs when you’re done using your laptop.

Business travelers and all public Wi-Fi users should also consider the following tips when accessing the Internet on the go:

  • Watch out for fake networks
    • In order to avoid fake networks, ask an employee at the airport or hotel to verify the Wi-Fi network they provide for customers.
    • Avoid certain websites, such as social networking or shopping sites, or any website that requires you to use a debit or credit card.
    • Keep in mind that banking online via a public Wi-Fi connection carries inherent risks. If you must access your bank information online and in a public place, be sure to check your statement frequently to verify that your account hasn’t been compromised.
      • Change your Wi-Fi settings so your computer doesn’t automatically connect to networks. Keep Wi-Fi off when you’re not using it.
      • Change your usernames and passwords as frequently as possible.
        • Make your passwords complex so hackers can’t easily break into your computer.

Despite the dangers that hackers pose, you can certainly do things to reduce your risk of problems when taking advantage of a public Wi-Fi connection.

For the latest fraud alerts, marketplace news and free BBB Business Reviews, visit www.bbb.org.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action to inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

 

Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) and AARP North Dakota are proud to once again offer free shredding events to the public and business community. The events, which will take place Saturday, October 11, in Bismarck and Fargo, will provide area residents and small businesses the opportunity to shred and properly dispose of up to two boxes of sensitive documents and CDs free of charge.

“Secure Your ID Day is a wonderful and free resource for consumers and small business owners to proactively reduce their risk of falling victim to identity theft,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota.

One of the main goals of Secure Your ID Day is to educate consumers about identity theft, which in 2013 – for the 14th straight year – topped the list of complaints reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Of the two million complaints they received last year, 14 percent were related to identity theft, according to their annual report. The highest reported age group for identity theft was 20-29, comprising 20 percent of those complaints.

BBB Secure Your ID Day Details  

Who: BBB and AARP North Dakota, along with local partners The Bismarck Tribune, The Forum, Recall and Wells Fargo

What: Free document shredding and distribution of tips and resources for protecting your identity.

When: Saturday, October 11, 2014, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Bismarck: Wells Fargo, 1050 E. Interstate Ave.

              Fargo: Wells Fargo, 2501 13th Ave S

The two events, which run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., are part of a series of Secure Your ID Day events being hosted by BBBs across the country. BBB and AARP ND staff will also be on hand to provide tips and fact sheets on how to avoid identity theft. There will also be a drawing at each Secure Your ID Day location for a free shredder from AARP ND and Better Business Bureau.

For more information on Secure Your ID Day and identity theft prevention measures for consumers and businesses, visit bbb.org/minnesota/get-involved/shred-event-secure-your-id-day/. AARP has also launched the Fraud Watch Network (www.fraudwatchnetwork.com) to help its members and others fight identity theft and fraud and give them access to information about how to protect themselves and their families.

The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security and retirement planning. We advocate for consumers in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a bilingual news source.  AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.