BBB Alerts Public To Scams With Public Service Announcements

BBB's public service announcements

BBB’s public service announcements alert the public to fraud and common scams.

By Bill Smith, BBB Reporter

Better Business Bureau, long a leader in consumer education efforts, announces a series of public service announcements (PSAs) designed to alert the public to some of the region’s top scams.

Dubbed the “Protect Yourself” campaign, the 30-second spots cover the area’s five top reported scams – fake IRS agent phone calls, computer tech support schemes, phony debt collections, bogus government grant scams and fake sweepstakes schemes.

The five are the top scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker, an interactive, nationwide service accessible through bbb.org.

Chris Thetford, BBB’s Vice President of Communications and Marketing, says all expenses to produce the PSAs were paid by BBB.

“This project represents a significant commitment on the part of BBB’s board of directors, business men and women who believe BBB has a responsibility to get this kind of critical information to the public,” Thetford said.

Arch with identity theft statistic

The Federal Trade Commission says that St. Louis was the top metropolitan area for identity theft complaints in 2015.

“As an organization of ethical, civic-minded businesses, BBB Accredited Businesses understand its important role in protecting consumers from becoming victims of unscrupulous thieves.”

The effort was prompted by reports that consumers – regardless of age, education, employment or financial status – continue to lose tens of millions of dollars each year to scammers.

In addition to working with local media to air the announcements in the St. Louis region, BBB’s board has decided to make the series available free of charge to 103 BBBs in North America. The gifting of the spots means that any BBB that wants to air the alerts may do so.

While BBB is hoping media outlets will air the spots as a public service, BBB has purchased advertising time to air the announcements in December. BBB also plans to make the ads available online.

As part of the PSA project, BBB developed a program that allows a business to sponsor, or underwrite, the PSAs. BBB Accredited Businesses may purchase TV time and use the ads as a branding opportunity by identifying themselves at the end of each announcement. Accredited Businesses also may partner with other BBB Accredited Businesses to sponsor the announcements.

Charter Spectrum, already has taken advantage of available air time to air the announcements on cable stations.

Mike Rottler, owner of Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions, is enthusiastic about partnering with BBB in the PSA campaign. He called the sponsorship a “no brainer” that “makes sense for my business and makes sense for the community.”

Rottler said the partnership offers a unique opportunity to leverage his company’s brand while, at the same time, allowing his business to share important information to the public.

“I hope to see more businesses jump on this,” he said. “Protection through education is a win-win for all of us us.”

Rottler said his company-branded PSAs will air in early 2017. Precision Construction Services of Columbia, Mo., also plans do some co-branded PSAs next year.

For information on this co-branding public education opportunity, BBB Accredited Businesses may contact Chris Thetford at cthetford@stlouisbbb.org or 314-645-0606.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of BBB’s Torchlight magazine for Accredited Busnesses and Accredited Charities.

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