Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) and representatives from the home health care industry convened a series of meetings recently designed to study complaints common to that industry and develop a list of agreed-upon best practices and self-regulatory standards. The group’s aim is to reduce complaints in the industry by helping business peers reach a consensus and by educating consumers. Industry review is a core service offered by BBB. Other industries which have worked with BBB include: carpet cleaning, used car sales, gold buyers, hearing aid, estate sales and many more.

“BBB generally convenes industry review groups at the request of business owners in a given industry or if BBB notices a pattern of complaints emerging within an industry,” said Karen Thompson, BBB Advertising Review Manager. “In this case, questions we were receiving from seniors we work with through our outreach program led to this industry group being formed.”

All Minnesota and North Dakota businesses in the home care industry were invited to participate and the meetings began last November, concluding in January. Feedback, input and ideas were gathered from business owners in the home health care field that chose to participate in this process. Based on an overall review of the industry, as well as discussions which took place within these meetings, the group developed both a list of best practices for the industry and also tips for consumers who are seeking to enlist the services of a home care provider which best suits their needs.

Home health care is available for all ages and varieties of needs. The primary focus is on the care and needs of the client. Services range from non-medical caregivers to skilled and licensed medical caregivers. Medical caregivers provide assistance to clients with medical needs requiring the skills of trained professionals such as registered nurses. Non-medical caregivers help clients with personal care and companionship.

Home health care services are provided to individuals in their home, wherever that may be; private home, apartment, independent or assisted living facility. Home health care services range from periodic “as needed” visits to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A BBB brochure encompassing the best practices and self-regulatory standards which came out of the home health care industry group has been mailed out to home health care providers in Minnesota and North Dakota. In addition, a separate brochure containing tips on choosing a home health care provider will be available to consumers through BBB and distributed at BBB events throughout the region. Both sets of materials are also available on BBB’s website – bbb.org

“The home health care industry will continue to grow,” added Thompson. “We’re hoping the efforts of this industry group will give people a better understanding of all of the many different aspects of it.”

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.

 

Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) is once again calling for nominations for the premier award in business ethics – BBB’s Torch Award for Ethics. BBB Torch Awards for Ethics recognize area companies which lead by way of example through the display of outstanding ethics in their dealings with customers, employees, vendors and within their communities.

All for-profit businesses of any size, owned or operated in Minnesota or North Dakota, are eligible. Nominees must be in good standing with the BBB; however BBB Accreditation is not a requirement to compete for the award. This year’s Torch Awards for Ethics nomination deadline is May 5, 2015.

“Our Torch Awards for Ethics recognize companies which set the bar in terms of service and overall excellence,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “They honor the hard work and commitment of ethical business owners and the dedication of the people they employ.”

Companies can be nominated online by visiting thefirstbbb.org/nominate or by sending the company name, contact name, address, phone number, and email along with the nominator’s name and phone number to: BBB, Attn: Mackenzie Kelley, 220. S. River Ridge Circle, Burnsville, MN 55337; or by faxing the information to 651-695-2487. Nominations for the 2015 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics are open to the public. Business owners or employees may also nominate their own firms.

Entrants are judged on six areas of their business: Leadership Commitment to Ethics; Communications of Ethical Practices; Organizational Commitment to Ethical Practice; Organizational Commitment to Performance Management Practices; Organizational Commitment to Ethical Human Resource Practices; and Organizational Commitment to the Community.
“We know the business community in Minnesota and North Dakota is a constellation comprised of upstanding firms which operate with integrity and ethics,” added Badgerow. “These awards salute those companies which shine brightest among us.”

Nominated companies will receive an official entry form from BBB. An independent panel of judges will decide the award finalists and recipients. Winners will be announced live at BBB’s 2015 Torch Awards for Ethics ceremony on October 29, which will be held at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center.

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.

 

Unsolicited telephone calls, pre-approved credit card offers and unwanted texts and emails – many containing misleading offers – are not only annoying, they can sometimes lead to identity theft. While it’s nearly impossible to completely eliminate junk mail, spam text messages and unwanted phone calls, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) suggests some steps you can take to get your inboxes and phone lines under control.

“Here in the Upper Midwest, Spam means a classic Austin, Minnesota offering,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Minnesota and North Dakota. “But on the Internet and through texting, messages – classified as spam – sent indiscriminately to large groups of people have caused security issues.”

To reduce the number of unwanted solicitations you receive, BBB advises the following:

– Set up a 2nd email account – Use one of your accounts for personal email and the other to sign up for special offers or discount cards. Also, provide as little personal information as possible. Just because a website or retailer asks for your address, telephone numbers or email address doesn’t mean you are obligated to provide them.

– Stop pre-approved credit card offers at optoutprescreen.com – Pre-approved credit card offers are an easy target for identity thieves who can steal incoming mail and use these offers to open fraudulent credit accounts. You can “opt-out” of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for at least five years by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visiting: optoutprescreen.com. This service is offered by the three major credit reporting bureaus.

– Put the brakes on unwanted marketing mail -To stop most mailings, visit dmachoice.org and opt-out of mail from members of the Direct Marketing Association. DMA regularly updates its list, but it may take up to six months before solicitations from all DMA members stop.

– Reduce telemarketing calls – The National Do Not Call Registry is a free, convenient way to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive at home and on your cellphone. To register a phone number or find out more about the registry, visit donotcall.gov, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone number you want to register. You will receive fewer telemarketing calls within 31 days of registering your number. Although this will not stop illegal calls, it allows you to file a complaint when the caller is identifiable.

– Ignore unsolicited text messages – Telemarketing calls and text messaging to cell phones are illegal, unless you grant permission. If you receive an unwanted marketing text message, contact your wireless provider to get any charges for the text removed, and to block the sender’s number. BBB recommends against responding to spam texts or doing anything to ‘opt-out’ of such offers, because doing so confirms yours is a working number and might open the door for more unwanted text messages.

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 start of spring and the promise of warmer weather to come kindles enthusiasm in many people to create more organized living and work spaces But when it comes time to actually do the work, we realize organization takes more patience than some of us have and a professional organizer might be helpful. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) offers tips to home and business owners before hiring someone to come into their space to sort through valuables and confidential paperwork.

“Getting things organized can be a daunting task but one that often helps us feel much happier in our surroundings,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “It’s a good idea to be clear about what an organizer does – and doesn’t – do, and how he or she operates before you allow them access to your home or business.”

The following tips were compiled by Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota in consultation with the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)-Minnesota Chapter (which represents Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota and Northwestern Wisconsin):

• Check out companies at bbb.org before signing a contract.
• Ask the organizer if they are a member of NAPO MN and about their credentials, experience and training.
• Find out if the organizer is insured.
• Ask the organizer to explain their process so you can gain a clear understanding of what they do and how they go about doing it.
• Ask how you can best prepare for a professional organizer to come to your home or workplace. Find out specifically what the organizer needs from you (you may need to commit personal time to get your home prepared for the organization process).
• Ask about the fee structure – is it by the job or by the hour? Be clear about your budget and do not sign any contracts until you fully understand what is or isn’t included in the service.
• Ask for clarification on what their services include, for example, purchasing of supplies for the organization process.
• Think about what kind of person you want to work with (example: will you work best in a drill sergeant environment or with someone who treats you like a friend?). Ask the potential organizer about their style.
• Ask for an estimate on how long the projects you have in mind will take to complete. Inquire about what might change/modify the timeline.
• Find out how the organizer disposes of items removed from your home or office and if there are additional fees (are the items recycled, donated, shredded?). Make sure you feel comfortable with the plan – especially if items are personal or confidential in nature.
• You can also visit napomn.com to review their code of ethics and to search for an organizer.

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.

 

Websites such as craigslist continue to be a top resource for people looking to buy and sell used – and unused – merchandise or household goods. While most transactions are successful and bargains can be found, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) reminds people it’s important to exercise caution and take steps to ensure your personal safety.

“Everyone loves a bargain and online sites like craigslist certainly provide a service,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “However, there have been instances locally and nationwide which have led to tragic outcomes. We urge people to be vigilant.”

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when buying or selling from private parties online:

• Try to deal with local buyers and sellers.
• Never wire funds.
• Don’t give out any personal or financial information.
• Never accept money orders and be leery of cashier checks, as both are easy to forge. If you cash a fake money order or cashier check, the bank will hold you responsible when it discovers it is fraudulent.
• Apartment or home rentals should be thoroughly checked out and inspected in person before money is put down.
• Consider the risks involved with selling a high value item yourself vs. dealing with a reputable pawn shop, consignment or secondhand store. Is it worth it?

The following are red flags, signs you’re likely dealing with someone using craigslist to defraud people:

• The buyer or seller is from another country.
• The buyer or seller will not meet with you and will only communicate via email.
• The buyer offers to overpay the asking price and requests that you wire the extra funds back to him/her or a third party.

The riskiest part of buying or selling something through craigslist (or other online e-commerce sites) is the in-person meeting to complete the transaction. Here are some tips to ensure your transaction goes safely and smoothly:

• Set up meetings during daytime hours and in a public place (coffee shop, restaurant).
• Consider bringing a friend or family member with you if you have safety concerns.
• If the seller insists you come to their home or apartment, always think of your safety first and trust your instincts. If you don’t like the direction things are taking, walk away.
• Check around and see if there are any businesses in your area which act as brokers for online sales; firms that help ensure safety for both buyers and sellers and collect a commission on the sale of items.

As in life, most of the people you deal with when buying or selling items on sites like craigslist are honest. However, there are those who see these sites as an opportunity to commit crimes. BBB advises everyone who uses websites like these to make sure they’re doing everything they can to protect themselves.

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 National Consumer Protection Week, which ran from March 1 through March 7, several area organizations partnered to produce a series of animated digital shorts aimed at combating fraud in fast-growing Spanish, Hmong and Somali-speaking segments of our community. The theme of the videos is “Be Wise about Senior Fraud,” and they began airing March 2nd on Twin Cities Public Television (tpt).

This initiative was made possible through a grant provided by Greater Twin Cities United Way. Additional partnering organizations include: ECHO Minnesota, AARP Minnesota, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB), Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging, Minnesota Board on Aging, Minnesota Department of Commerce and tpt.

Four versions of the videos were produced – in Somali, Spanish, Hmong and Basic English – and their purpose is to inform senior citizens and their loved ones about the risks and prevalence of fraud against seniors, as well tactics scammers use, and arm them with tips for avoiding these scams. The videos will also encourage people to report such scams to the authorities.

“Financial exploitation of older adults is an increasing problem that impacts the ability for these adults to remain independent. We’re proud to partner with ECHO Minnesota – an expert in education and outreach, along with a broader coalition of partners – to raise awareness about fraud prevention. Providing valuable resources to emerging populations statewide leads to stronger communities,” said United Way Senior Vice President of Community Impact, Meghan Barp.

Minority segments within our communities are at increased risk of falling victim to scams due to language, literacy and cultural barriers. In an effort to reach populations with limited English proficiency, the videos are narrated by multilingual ambassadors. All four videos will air on tpt’s Minnesota Channel, as part of a half-hour program titled Echo: Be Wise about Senior Fraud. They will be re-broadcast several times throughout the year. In addition, the partners behind this initiative will work with community leaders statewide to spread this message. The videos will also be posted on their respective websites.

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.

 

Aggressive computer viruses continue to make the rounds, causing unlucky computer users to see messages which threaten people with fines or prison unless they pay up. These viruses encrypt – lock up – files on affected computers, holding them hostage, hence its name: ransomware. These viruses are spread through malicious links in emails or by visiting compromised websites. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) offers tips on how to avoid ransomware and also advice on what to do if your computer is affected by it.

People who have been victimized by ransomware report seeing different versions of ransom demands; some ask for differing amounts of money and some have claimed to be from the FBI, local police or the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Users are told they need to pay requested amounts via prepaid debit cards or Bitcoin (a virtual currency) or they will be locked out of their computers permanently. In some cases, people have even been threatened with arrest. However, these messages are all fraudulent.

“This scam is both insidious and, unfortunately, effective,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Encrypting users’ files or locking screens to make computers inaccessible gives scammers a lot of leverage. Even so, the FBI is advising consumers not to pay these ransoms and we advise the same.”

People with infected computers should have the issue addressed as quickly as possible. It will likely take a computer repair expert or firm – one that’s been researched first at bbb.org – to restore functionality and remove any lurking malware. However, while computers may be fixable, in many cases encrypted files are not recoverable. It’s always a good idea to back up your files on a regular basis.

The FBI recently issued a warning that scammers are now utilizing a tactic called “drive-by” ransomware, which is generally transmitted by deceptive emails or pop-up windows. In some of these cases, scammers are pressuring victims to pay ransom with Bitcoin. This form of payment has become increasingly popular for scammers because of how difficult it can be to trace.

One of the newest versions of ransomware is CryptoWall. Victims are infected with CryptoWall by clicking on links in malicious emails that appear to be from legitimate businesses and through compromised advertisements on popular websites. Another growing problem is ransomware that locks down mobile phones. Just as with computers, it’s important to avoid questionable websites when surfing the Internet on your smartphone.

To avoid ransomware, consumers should:

• Make sure their computer has the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
• Avoid questionable websites and don’t be lured in by pop-up windows.
• Don’t open attachments in unsolicited emails, even if they come from people you know and trust. Better to be safe than sorry.
• Be aware that social networks are used to transmit and spread this virus and others like it.
• Use the same precautions on your smartphone as you would on your computer when surfing the internet
• Watch out for scams disguised as apps. Be sure to download apps through the official Apple App or Google Play Stores. Stay clear of discontinued apps and make sure to read the user reviews.

If your computer or smartphone becomes infected by viruses of this nature, contact a tech expert immediately and file a complaint with the FBI at ic3.gov.

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.

 

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) advises people looking to start new relationships to watch out for romance scams. This is a scheme wherein unscrupulous individuals look to defraud people by pretending to be a love interest and playing on emotions for their own financial gain. This type of scam usually occurs via email or social media, but can also happen through established online dating services.

“Romance scams are a double whammy,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “They hit victims financially and emotionally, and the consequences are often devastating.”

Romance schemes can target anyone, but often target older individuals, those who are new to the Internet or not as tech-savvy. The relationship generally develops online or over the phone, when people either respond to fake online profiles or are contacted by a scammer in response to an ad they posted. Conversations begin online and things can progress quickly, which is why it’s important to take things slow. Scammers prey on emotion and they’re good at telling people what they want – or hope – to hear.

A huge red flag for people seeking relationships online is any request for funds. Sometimes scammers who have struck up virtual relationships will ask for money to buy an airplane ticket so the couple can “finally” meet. However, these requests are nothing more than a gateway to further requests, as the scammer comes up with reasons they can’t make the trip, such as an illness, a sick relative or supposedly losing their job. A good rule of thumb is to never send money to someone you’ve never met in person. Another good rule of thumb is to remember that someone who cares about you will not ask you to place yourself in financial jeopardy for them or put you in a difficult position.

People going online or using online dating services to meet romantic interests should be leery of:

People who ask to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service. Oftentimes, this allows fraudsters to perpetrate fraud without the dating site having a record of the encounter.

Anyone who declares their love for you without meeting you or knowing very little about you.

Individuals who prefer to communicate solely via email or over the phone. This is often the sign of someone who has a need or wishes to keep their true identity hidden.

Claims that a person cannot meet because they are traveling, stationed or working abroad. Dishonest people use distance as a tool and a means of keeping people at arm’s length. Scammers will also sometimes falsely claim a military affiliation in an effort to gain people’s trust.

Requests for money or credit card information. Any and all requests for loans or cash advances should be refused and prompt an immediate assessment of the person you’re communicating with. Red flags don’t come any bigger than this.

Someone who asks for sensitive personal information. Remember, a scammer’s goal might also be to steal your identity. Be protective of your personal information and watch out for suspicious emails that could have links which contain malware designed to compromise your computer.

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 IRS is now processing tax returns, and the agency continues to emphasize the convenience and security of their online services for taxpayers. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers some helpful tips for the public as tax season kicks into gear.

“Most of us know the anxiety level only grows the longer we put off doing our personal taxes,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “It’s better to be proactive. If you’re not comfortable preparing your own taxes, be sure to find a qualified professional to assist you.”

BBB offers the following tips on how to find a trustworthy tax preparer:

  • Ask around. Get referrals from friends and family on who they use and research free BBB Business Reviews on tax preparers and tax preparation services at bbb.org.
  • Consider accessibility. Some tax preparation services wind down their operations shortly after the April 15 tax deadline. In case the IRS finds errors, or in case of an audit, you need to be sure you know how to contact your tax preparer throughout the year.
  • Bigger isn’t always better. Be wary of tax preparation services that promise larger refunds than the competition, and avoid tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of your refund.
  • Look for credentials. Ideally, your tax preparer should either be a certified public accountant, a tax attorney, an enrolled agent or a certified E-file provider.
  • Make sure they have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). A PTIN must be obtained by all tax return preparers who are compensated for preparing or assisting in the preparation of, all or substantially all of any U.S. federal tax return, claim for refund, or other tax form submitted to the IRS.
  • Investigate whether the preparer has any questionable history with your state’s Board of Accountancy (for CPA’s), the State Bar Association (for attorneys) or the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) for enrolled agents.
  • Remember that a Paid Preparer is required by law to sign your return and fill in the preparer areas of the form. They should also include their appropriate identifying number on the return. In addition, the preparer must give you a copy of your return.
  • Read the contract carefully. Read contracts closely to ensure you understand issues such as how much it will cost for the service, how that cost will be affected if your tax preparation is more complicated and time consuming than expected and whether the tax preparer will represent you in case of an audit.
  • Don’t forget about Free File. If your adjusted gross income is $60,000 or less, Free File offers free Federal tax preparation and e-filing. Visit irs.gov/freefile to learn more.

The IRS says taxpayers will receive their tax refunds quicker by using e-file or Free File, with the direct deposit option.

BBB is also warning people about tax refund fraud, a form of identity theft where someone else fraudulently files a tax return in your name. This is a rapidly growing problem, one that is difficult to detect and can delay the tax refund you’re due. One of the best ways to avoid falling victim to this type of fraud is to file your tax return as soon as possible.

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.

 

 

With the start of the New Year, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota® (BBB) looks ahead to try and predict which nasty scam will pack the most punch in the coming months. Though perennial “least-favorites” such as sweepstakes and utility schemes are sure to be well-represented, BBB feels phony IRS calls will likely continue to set the pace when it comes to defrauding the public.

“This is a scam that knows no season and no boundaries,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Fraudsters can call from anywhere and use technology and people’s fears to trick and coerce them into making hard to trace payments.”

Phony IRS calls have become common nationwide and can target anyone, but often seem to focus on certain groups, such as foreign-born citizens.  Fraudsters claim an affiliation with the IRS and also use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. People contacted by these scammers say they are abusive and threaten arrest or even deportation if alleged tax debts are not paid immediately – usually via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards. Others have received voicemail messages stating they must contact the IRS immediately. Some messages have claimed to be from the U.S. Marshals, threatening arrest if alleged tax debts are not paid in full.

BBB is advising the public that the IRS does not make such calls and initiates contact with taxpayers through the mail. Scammers also utilize technology to alter the information that appears on caller ID, so it may appear as though a call is originating from the IRS, when in fact the call is fraudulent.

The IRS website states they will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will they call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand payment without giving people the opportunity to question or appeal the debt in question.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

The IRS also states they don’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. This includes requests for PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

If you receive one of these fraudulent IRS phone calls, BBB recommends you:

  • Hang up – Don’t provide any information over the phone. Call the IRS directly using the phone number found on their website or in the phone book.
  • Protect your personal information – Never give out any personal or financial information over the phone. This includes your Social Security number.
  • Contact the FCC – Let the Federal Communications Commission know about ID spoofing by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC or file a complaint at www.fcc.gov/complaints
  • Contact the FTC – File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

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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