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Better Business Bureau

Better Business Bureau tips

Everything that glitters

   Be leery of investments involving precious metals and rare coins. These investment opportunities promise great returns, but investors often lose all or most of their investment. Before you invest, discuss the opportunity with a qualified investment professional. Contact the Better Business Bureau for a list of member investment professionals. 431-2222.

Check out work-at-home schemes

   Work-at-home scams continue to flourish in Western Washington. The Better Business Bureau receives samples each week of work-at-home offers. The schemer promises huge profits for part-time work done at home. Envelope stuffing is a common example of a work-at-home opportunity. Remember, a legitimate employer will never ask you to pay money in advance to learn more about the job, a practice that is common among work-at-home schemers. Call the BBB at 431-2222 for information.

Beware phony radio advertising

   People posing as advertising sales representatives or advertising brokers are contacting Western Washington businesses to sell them phony advertising time on local radio stations.
   Most reputable radio stations will call you in advance to schedule an appointment, so be leery of sales people who just show up at your business. Always ask to see company credentials from the sales representative, but remember, with today's desktop publishing capabilities, logos can be easily copied. Before you pay for advertising, contact the radio station directly to ensure that the contract is legitimate and to ensure that the sales rep is employed by the station. Always make out your check to the radio station directly, not to the individual doing the selling, and never pay cash. Before you sign an advertising contract, read it carefully to make sure you understand what you're agreeing to and check out the company with the Better Business Bureau.
   If you've been approached by someone selling phony radio advertising, we want to know about it. Contact the Better Business Bureau at (206) 431-2222 (Seattle) or 1-800-488-3222 (outside Seattle).

Watch out for scholarships with a price

   With college costs looming, many high school seniors spend their last semester pursuing every possible funding opportunity. But the Better Business Bureau of Western Washington (BBB) warns students and their parents to be wary of scholarship offers that require an initial outlay of more than a dollar or two.
   Some for-profit scholarships require the applicant to pay a "processing fee" of between $10-$20. After they pay the fee and fill out the required forms, and complete the letters of recommendation, the student never hears from the company. These scholarship companies typically send application information to high school counselors, who in turn make it available to students.
   The Better Business Bureau encourages students who have applied for a scholarship that they believe may not be legitimate to come forward.
   The BBB reports that most individuals who pay to apply, and never hear from the company again, assume that they didn't qualify. Legitimate scholarship organizations will contact you to let you know whether you did or did not qualify for a scholarship.
   Before you apply for a scholarship, investigate the funding source:
  1. Contact the Office of the Secretary of State to see if the scholarship organization is registered as a charitable trust.
  2. Contact a college or university in your area or the school you hope to attend to see if they have information about the scholarship and if any recipients attend their school.
  3. If possible, find out the names of past scholarship winners and contact them to see if they received their funding and if they were satisfied with the funding source.
  4. Contact the charities division of your Better Business Bureau to see if they have any information on the scholarship organizaiton.
   You can reach the BBB by calling 206-431-2222 (Seattle), or 1-800-488-3222 (outside Seattle).