BBB issues urgent scam alert, gives consumer shopping tips

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about emails claiming to be from the BBB. Heeding the warning could save your computer from a deadly virus and spare consumers costly repair bills.

The local BBB's scam alert cautions against opening an email that claims to be about a BBB complaint because it has a dangerous attachment that could mess up your computer.

Local director Carmen Million says it's a scam and adds that the BBB doesn't email complaints in this manner. Anyone receiving such an email should delete it or contact the BBB.

Under no circumstances should the email's attachment be opened, Million said.

"We're afraid if they click on the attachment it's going to let loose a virus on their system."

As well, Million offers tips for shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday--which might as well be today if the traffic is any indication. People  already are out scooping up gifts to make sure they get what they want. Million suggests creating a realistic budget. And make sure you understand the return policies where you make purchases. "If an item is not defective or it has not been misrepresented, a company does not have to give a refund and in some cases they will only give a credit to the store or if they give you a refund they will keep a restocking fee. It's actually the consumer's responsibility to find out what the store policy is before they purchase an item," said Million.

She suggests people read the fine print on gift cards and ask for gift receipts. When it comes to online purchases she suggests consumers shop on trustworthy Web sites, protect  personal information and confirm that purchase are secure. She says it's also better to pay with a credit card in case you don't receive the item, and keep any documentation of your order. It seems the scam artists keep getting more sophisticated, so Million is trying to help consumers keep ahead of their game.

Copyright 2011 KPLC.All rights reserved

The following are news releases issued by the BBB on shopping tips and the latest alert issued:                                                                                          

BBB Tips for Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the Friday and Monday after Thanksgiving, are the most popular holiday shopping days of the year. According to a survey conducted by National Retail Federation, 212 million shoppers visited stores and web sites over Black Friday weekend last year.

Whether shopping at a local store or online to avoid the crowds, Carmen Million, BBB President urges consumers to take precautions to insure a great holiday shopping experience.

BBB offers consumers the following tips to help save time, stress and money on this busy shopping weekend:

  • Create a realistic budget. Know whom you are buying gifts for and how much you are willing to spend. As you buy gifts, keep track of the cost and avoid impulse purchases to prevent over-spending.
  • Watch out for tricky advertising. Read the fine print on all advertised sales to make sure you are truly saving money, and bring the ad with you. Watch for discrepancies in advertised prices and the prices on the shelf. Verify the real price before checking out.
  • Read the fine print on gift cards. These can be found on the back of the card and will let you know the terms and conditions for using the card. There could be limitations to in-store purchases or exclusions on certain items.
  • Ask about return policies. While many stores offer a 30-day return policy, it is important to read the terms and conditions associated with each purchase. And remember that the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item not when you give the item as a gift.
  • Ask for Gift Receipts - Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased but do not disclose the price paid. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item or risk receiving an exchange for the current selling price of the item.
  • Shop locally. Save your gas money and your time when you stay close to home. The Better Business Bureau is encouraging consumers to support small businesses in their community.

BBB offers online shopping tips for Cyber Monday:

  • Shop on trustworthy web sites – Shoppers should start with the BBB to check on the seller's Business Review for customer satisfaction at Always look for the BBB seal and other widely-recognized "trust marks" on retailer web sites and click on the seals to confirm that they are valid.
  • Protect your personal information – Take time to read the site's privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn't one posted, it should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.
  • Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on web sites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a "deal" that might cost them dearly in the end.
  • Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the "s" in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the "lock" symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, the BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select "Properties." This will let you see the real URL (web site address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
  • Pay with a credit card – It's best to use a credit card, because under Federal law, the shopper can dispute the charges if he or she doesn't receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have "zero liability" policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.
  • Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail. The BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

If you have questions or need additional information, contact your BBB at 337-478-6253 or visiting 

Malicious Complaint Email Claiming It's From BBB

Carmen Million, President of the BBB of Southwest La., Inc. is issuing an urgent SCAM alert cautioning businesses and consumers about an email that is purporting to be from a email address about a recently filed complaint. The email contains a dangerous attachment regarding a complaint and appears to direct recipients to the BBB website. This is a scam - BBB does not send complaints as attachments via email.

The email appears to come from a fake BBB employee claiming that the recipient needs to review this matter and advise the BBB of their position. From there, the email appears to direct the recipient to the BBB web site, but actually directs them to an outside link. This email is fraudulent and does not originate from BBB. The email attachment and link are malicious and we are strongly advising to not open or click them.

Should you receive such an email, please disregard its message, and report any information received to BBB's Scam Portal, and then delete it.  If you have clicked on the link, immediately do a virus scan.

When in doubt, check with your BBB first at 337-478-6253.