Top 5 BBB Tips of 2013, As Decided By You

Now that the holidays are all wrapped up, we’re looking back at some of the best consumer tips we were able to give St. Louis in 2013.  These articles got a great response last year. They’re full of advice that will remain useful as we all look to the future.  Read on through these five sets of tips, ranked by their popularity among our readers, to make sure that you haven’t missed any great BBB info in 2013.

5.  When To Share Your Social Security Number, When You May Decline

BBB’s own Chris Thetford went to Fox 2 news to discuss this topic.  These tips really resonated when we were all trying to figure out how what information about the Affordable Care Act was true, and they will be helpful again when we update our health insurance for the new year and later sit down to do our taxes.

Some businesses, schools and health care providers once used Social Security numbers to keep track of employees, students and patients. But concern over identity theft has prompted savvy companies to switch to other ways to identify their people and accounts.

The BBB has the following tips for consumers to use when asked for a Social Security number:

    • Ask under what law the number is required.
    • In the case of employment recruiters or temp agencies, find out whether you may give your Social Security number directly to a potential employer.
    • Determine who will have access to this data.

Read the rest of our tips about protecting your Social Security number at our website.

4.  BBB Advises Checking Charities Out Before Making Year-End Gifts

In the recent deep snows and bitter cold, St. Louis has remembered how important it is to help each other out during hard times.  Now is a great time to give to charity, so long as you do your research and follow BBB’s tips.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) has tips to help donors find deserving charities – and to make giving more effective as well as deductible. A new BBB Wise Giving Guide that summarizes BBB information on 788 local charities is available online.

Charities know that people are often in a generous mood during the holidays – or that they put off giving until their tax adviser suggests that it could reduce their tax bill in April. As a result, mailboxes often are stuffed with charitable solicitations as well as catalogs this time of year.

BBB has tips that increase your confidence that your donation will be used wisely:

    • If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don’t hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.
    • Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.
    • Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure sites’ addresses begin with https://.)

Read the rest of our tips about wise giving at our website.

3.  BBB Warns Job Seekers Of LinkedIn Scams

In 2013, LinkedIn solidified its place as an important and useful social network among its competitors on the world wide web– and scammers figured out how to trade on its new status.  Luckily, the hardworking staffers at your BBB were able to put together some tips to help out.

With many job seekers using LinkedIn to market themselves to potential employers, scammers also are finding ways to exploit the site by posing as recruiters, Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.

Scammers create fake profiles to disguise themselves as recruiters. They send messages that include a link to a site that seeks personal information. The websites may look legitimate, but often they ask for financial information and personal identifying information, such as Social Security numbers or birthdates. Scammers then use that information to steal your identity, access bank accounts or install malware on your computer.

BBB offers these tips to avoid becoming a victim of a LinkedIn scam:

    • Do not add just anyone on LinkedIn. Before connecting with or adding someone, check out their profile and connections. If you have doubts about their legitimacy, do not add them. .
    • Be wary of work-at-home jobs. Real work-at-home jobs are scarce, so be cautious when you find these postings.
    • Search for the recruiter’s picture. Scammers often use a fake, generic photo and you can most likely find the photo elsewhere.

Read the rest of the tips at our website.

2.  BBB Advice Can Help Parents Find Safe, Rewarding Summer Camps For Children

It’s cold out now, but it will be summer before we know it.  These BBB tips for choosing a summer camp for your child will be useful before you know it– and can also come in useful when you’re looking for a daycare or any other similar service.

Wise parents already are searching for summer camps that will keep their children safely occupied when school is out. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises parents to look beyond glossy brochures and pretty website pictures. The safety, health and satisfaction of children should be the camp’s top priority.

The BBB offers the following tips for parents searching for the right camp for their child:

    • Always visit the camp before submitting your deposit. Check its location and view the living, eating and recreational facilities. Ask about safey procedures (particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips), and assess the quality and commitment of the staff.
    • What is the camper return rate? The counselor return rate?
    • What is the camp director’s background? How is the staff trained? Are criminal checks made for employees and volunteers? What is the ratio of campers to staff members?

Read the rest of our summer camp tips at our website.

1. BBB’s 8 Tips For Hiring A Contractor

Our most popular article from 2013 was about one of our most popular functions– helping people to look up information about area contractors before starting a home improvement project.  Read on and get BBB savvy about business:

If you’re thinking about improving your home or making repairs, you probably need to hire a contractor. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) can help you find a trustworthy contractor or check out the ones recommended by friends.

The BBB’s Request A Quote service allows consumers to obtain information from one or more BBB Accredited Businesses. These businesses have pledged to comply with BBB Standards, such as advertising honestly, honoring promises and responding to customers’ complaints.

The BBB’s eight tips for hiring contractors are:

    1. Ask at least three companies for bids based on the same requirements. Discuss the bids in detail with each contractor and ask them about variations in pricing. The lowest-priced bid may not be the best.
    2. Ask about the company’s insurance. Does it carry worker’s compensation, property damage and liability insurance? Ask for proof of insurance or for the name of an insurance agent you can call to verify the coverage.
    3. Ask whether the contractor is licensed for the type of work you need. Does the firm meet the bonding requirements of your town, county or state?
    4. Always check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org.

View the rest of our tips about hiring a contractor at our website.

Which were some of your favorite stories throughout the year?  Tell us in the comments!

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