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BBB offers tips on shopping online safely

Posted by Shelley Nelson on March 5, 2015 in Uncategorized |

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.


Why you should care about consumer protection week

Posted by Shelley Nelson on March 2, 2015 in Uncategorized |

 In the aftermath of the recent, unprecedented data breach at Anthem Insurance, The Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin says that this National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) takes on a new sense of urgency for all consumers and businesses. NCPW is a coordinated campaign which began yesterday and will run through Saturday.  This year’s theme for […]


Ransomware viruses continue to lock up computers; smartphones also targeted

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 27, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Burnsville, Minnesota – Feb. 26 – 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 […]


Enter online relationships with eyes wide open

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 13, 2015 in Uncategorized |

MADISON – Love may be blind but if your Valentine’s Day plans include looking for love online, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) reminds you to keep your eyes open for scammers who are ready to take advantage of you-and your money. People using online dating services or social media to […]


Don’t be fooled by romance scams

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 12, 2015 in Uncategorized |

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. […]


BBB Shreds, Recycles Record Amount of Documents Helping Prevent Identity Theft

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 11, 2015 in Uncategorized |

The year 2014 proved to be another busy year for the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin and its education foundation.   The BBB reached millions of people and business owners through media alerts, media stories to warn against scams, social media, consumer and business newsletters, blogs, scam-stopper, tips on buying smarter, and educational events.   One such event […]


BBB warns businesses not to click on questionnaire email

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 10, 2015 in Uncategorized |

 Better Business Bureau is warning businesses not to click on an email that claims to be a “BBB SBQ” (standard business questionnaire). The email was sent out this morning to what is believed to be tens of thousands of businesses across the country. The email has a ZIP file attachment that links to a site that […]


Scammers Already Sending Fake Anthem Emails

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 9, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Milwaukee, Wis. – It never takes long for scammers to exploit the latest news. Just a day after the announcement that as many as 80 million customers of Anthem could be victims of a data breach, scammers are sending out emails that very convincingly spoof Anthem’s logo and corporate look. These emails are unrelated to the data […]


State agency encourages investors to discuss cybersecurity with financial professionals

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 6, 2015 in Uncategorized |

State agency encourages investors to discuss cybersecurity with financial professionals MADISON – With an ever-growing list of financial institutions targeted by organized cyber-attacks, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today issued an advisory reminding investors of the importance of protecting the personal information they share with their financial professionals.   “The increasing reliance on technology […]


Tax Scam Avoidance Starts with Awareness

Posted by Shelley Nelson on February 3, 2015 in Uncategorized |

MADISON – Imagine going to your tax office with all of your paperwork and finding out that a return had already been submitted and paid out in your name. Or receiving a letter in the mail that a tax return using your information was filed in multiple states without your knowledge. These are only a […]

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