BBB Tip: How to spot a BBB impostor

The Better Business Bureau is not immune to being victims of scams.  Some dishonest characters are pretending to be the BBB to steal information and money from unsuspecting businesses and consumers. Look for these red flags to avoid a BBB impostor scam.

Michigan
In the latest phishing attempt, a person using the name “Frank Gonzalez” alleged that he worked within the Compliance Department of BBB Michigan and sent an email to the victim stating that BBB “received a notice of abuse, claiming that your organization is violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.” The email also asked that a document be downloaded.

New York
In another recent phishing attempt, a person using the name “Timber Burke” is claiming to be from the Better Business Bureau “Anti-Fraud” Department in New York City. People report getting emails with a letter attached telling them their name and information is being used in connection with fraudulent activity, alerting them to potential ID theft and other issues, and steering them to call this number: (202) 738-1912 The email attachment includes the BBB logo, name, and signature line mimicking that of the BBB serving Metropolitan New York.

Canada
In another recent phishing attempt, businesses have been receiving emails from scammers impersonating BBB. These emails ask the business to provide information such as a utility bill, tax documents, or an operating license to validate the business’ legitimacy in order to process an incoming “complaint” or “review”. These emails are coming from a contact under the name “Damini from Better Business Bureau” and with the email address “compliance@betterbbureau.org.” This is a false contact from a falsified email.

Texas
In one, El Paso businesses have received emails claiming their business has received a new BBB complaint and asking users to click through to “Review and sign” a document. The email includes BBB logos and a fake complaint number.

BBB impostor phone calls
Texas
Recently, a consumer reported receiving a call from “David Johnson” who claimed to work for BBB. The caller asked the consumer if they applied for new credit cards recently and requested permission to look at the consumer’s credit report. The consumer reported receiving multiple calls from the following numbers: (866) 985-0018, (800) 945-2000, and (407) 573-8702.

Pennsylvania
A consumer in western Pennsylvania got a phone call from someone who “identified me by my home phone number and then proceeded to say my credit was good and I made payments on time, and he said that I made even higher payments than usual and then he proceeded to say I didn’t have to pay my credit cards anymore because he was from the [Better Business Bureau] … “The BBB office in Jacksonville reports receiving two calls regarding a scammer claiming to be the BBB, offering credit cards and loans.

New Jersey
A consumer reported to BBB of New Jersey of being harassed by multiple callers claiming to be from the BBB. The consumer stated that “the numbers calling her are from 888-325-0151, (888) 408-2010, and [redacted]. The callers’ names were Lisa Lawrence, Alan Tracy, Marie Benz, and Ruby Jane. “The consumer also reported that the scammers “are telling consumers they offer credit card debt relief through a BBB program.” The consumer states, “The more they call; they are leaving more threatening voice messages stating if I don’t do this, the government will cancel all of her cards.” The impostors requested identity confirmation via social security number and other forms of personal identification.

USA
BBB also received a report that a BBB Accredited Business received a call from someone spoofing BBB’s phone number, telling him they “noticed his credit card balances were high and [the caller] could help bring them down.” The business called his local BBB, who informed him that BBB does not offer credit repair or repayment services.

BBB impostor letters
USA
A consumer reported a person using the name “Steven Smith” claimed to be with the Better Business Bureau, using the BBB Accredited Business seal on a fake letter to con him out of $25,000 in cash, bitcoin and gift cards. The consumer was threatened with legal action if he did not pay. The scammers used the name of a current BBB employee on the letter as well.

BBB Accredited Business impostors
USA
In the past, BBBs have received reports from businesses contacted by scam artists posing as BBB Accredited Business PayPal confirming the purchase of a crypto product. The invoice includes the BBB Accredited Business logo and a fake Gmail address.

Another consumer reported, “The Geek Squad sent an email saying they were going to auto charge me $422.22 for an annual subscription. I called the number in the email to cancel the renewal. They told me I had to fill out a form, which I did. However, when they asked me to click on a specific link on my bank account website, I became suspicious and told them I was going to report a scam. They wouldn’t give up and just kept telling me to go to my bank’s website and click the link. I hung up and deleted the email.”

How to avoid BBB impostors
These are just a few of many impostor schemes in which the BBB brand has been used, and BBB is asking consumers and businesses to report these to BBB Scam Tracker and contact your local BBB to verify any suspicious claims.

Check out BBB’s Spot a Scam hub to learn how to identify scammers quickly, and read more about common impostor scams below.

BBB sometimes reaches out to consumers and businesses; however, BBB will never ask for passwords or information to access your device.

If you are still determining if it’s the BBB calling, tell the caller you will call them back and end the call. Then call the phone number on BBB.org directly. Additionally, BBB will never ask for documentation prior to processing an incoming complaint or review. We are recommending the following tips if you receive a suspicious email:

Do not click on any links or attachments

Read the email carefully for signs that it may be fake (for example, misspellings, grammar, generic greetings such as “Dear member” instead of a name, etc.)

Be wary of any urgent instructions to take specified action such as, “Click on the link or your account will be closed.”

Hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is truly from BBB.org. The URL in the text should match the URL that your mouse detects. If the two do not match, it is most likely a scam.

When reporting the fraudulent email, it is important to include the suspicious email as an attachment in your communication and forward your email with the suspicious email as an attachment to phishing@iabbb.org. (Note: This address is only for scams that use the BBB name or logo).

Delete the email from your computer completely (be sure to empty your “trash can” or “recycle bin,” as well).

Run anti-virus software updates frequently and do a full system scan.

Keep a close eye on your bank statements for any unexpected or unexplained transactions.