Better Business Bureau

If you believe the ads for online dating services that claim true love is just a couple of clicks away, the Better Business Bureau is warning the public to be careful with hearts and wallets when using them.

As a rule, dating services are not free. The BBB received more than 1,100 complaints last year, dealing with issues such as billing and collection; refunds, advertising and sales practices, to poor customer service.

It’s a new year, and the bad guys are busy dreaming up new scams and updating old ones. The Better Business Bureau is offering consumers some advice on beginning 2020 on a positive note.

Basically, the earlier that you detect something that is not something you purchased, or your account’s different, then the earlier you can get your banking institution – or with whom you have the account – to get on  it and to stop it, says Tammy Ward in the BBB’s Pensacola office.

If you’re browsing the Web to find that next furry addition to your family, the Better Business Bureau advises you to watch out for scams that are popping up online.

Unlike other stings that involve money, property, or merchandise, this “puppy scam” is pulling at the heartstrings of many – because, says the BBB’s Tammy Ward, someone really wanting an animal who goes online could lose thousands of dollars – and end up empty-handed.

Consumers in Florida are getting a heads-up about a new phishing scam, which is targeting people already victimized in a data breach of the credit monitoring company Equifax.

“I’m Ashley Moody; Florida’s Attorney General,” the online announcement begins. “We are issuing a consumer alert about scams targeting the victims of the Equifax data breach; the largest credit reporting data breach in our history.”

With spring break in full swing, now is the ideal time for scammers to bring back a long-standing bogus emergency – the “Grandparent Scam.”

Basically, the scam is when somebody who could possibly be a grandparent receives a phone call and are told that their grandson or granddaughter is in some kind of peril.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

After first going viral in 2015, the “Secret Sister Exchange” is back in time for the holiday season on Facebook and other social media -- both nationwide and in northwest Florida.

“Don’t believe it; and you know that old saying, ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is,’” says Tammy Ward with the Better Business Bureau in Pensacola. “And if somebody that you know of has sent it to you, just let them know, ‘hey, this is a scam.’”

Sweepstakes, lottery and prize schemes are targeting victims financially and emotionally with a number of methods that continue to evolve. That’s according to a new study by the Better Business Bureau.

Such scams took $117 billion out of the pockets of a half-million Americans and Canadians in 2017 – the actual totals are likely much higher. Tammy Ward at the BBB office in Pensacola says the scams’ origins are generally Jamaica, Costa Rica and Nigeria. More than 95% of reported fraud in Jamaica involves lottery or sweepstakes scams.

It's the season to be filing tax returns, and for scammers and identity thieves it can feel like another Christmas. But, you can keep your information safe with a little effort and preparation.

This is the fourth year the IRS has rolled out its “Dirty Dozen” tax scams, one per day over a dozen business days. In a video produced for the website, the agency reports an increase in tax scams by telephone.

Calls are going out to help those victimized by Hurricane Harvey. But the challenge is, which are legitimate and which are not? That’s where the Better Business Bureau can help.

More than 20 inches of rain has fallen over parts of Texas, with another 15-25 inches expected in the days to come. Help is pouring in, and neighbors have been helping neighbors.

That’s the best of it; then there’s the dark side.

'Tis the season to be jolly-- and targeted.

The Better Business Bureau has some tips on how to get what you want for the holidays, and not what the scammers want. 

For Tammy Ward at the BBB office in Pensacola, it’s getting more amazing every year.

“The more technology we have it seems like the more opportunity for scammers to try to take our money from us.”

Ward adds that the overall rule of thumb when shopping online for those Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa gifts is to make sure you’re at the retailer’s actual website.

Photo via Flickr//Conred Guatemala /

Scammers prey on people’s fears to make money: it’s what they do. So with the Zika outbreak, they’re cashing in on anxiety over the disease. The Better Business Bureau is urging everyone not to fall for them.

Tammy Ward with the BBB in Pensacola tells us how such scams work, and that they’re online for the most part.  

Kyte Aymond

  The rapid success and growth of Pokémon Go is not being lost on those who are busy finding ways to go phishing, and cash in at players’ expense.

The operative word here is “free.” But some scammers are working to convince players that there is a cost involved.

“Especially if they have die-hard fans that are on their phones, they’re going to possibly get an email that says ‘I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the game; but now you’re going to have to pay for it,’” says Tammy Ward at the Better Business Bureau in Pensacola.

Photo via Flickr//Shannon McGee /

Summer is on the way and so are more festival scams. The Better Business Bureau says would-be festival goers are being tempted to buy tickets which are either fake or for a bogus event.

Here’s how such a scam could work: you see a great deal on tickets to a summer festival in your city, usually through a social media link.

Lindsay Myers

 This week’s arrest of a Molino man could serve as a reminder to use extreme caution when hiring a building contractor.

Fifty-one-year-old Kenneth Malarik is charged with felony unlicensed contracting during a state of emergency; felony grand theft and unpermitted construction. Building Services Director Don Mayo says the charges were filed after their investigation.

If it’s tax season, then it’s also time for scammers to pose as employees of the Internal Revenue Service. The Better Business Bureau has some tips on fighting back.

Tax-related scams cost victims more than $23 million per year, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  Reports have reached TIGTA of almost 900,000 scam contacts over the past two and a half years. Just this year, the IRS has seen a 400% increase in phishing schemes.