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Better Business Bureau: advance fee loan scammers using BBB's name

By By Tracy Bracy
Sept. 14, 2013 at 4:14 a.m.


We've received complaints about advance fee loan scammers who are falsely associating themselves with your Better Business Bureau.

Complaints report that the scammers demanded money up front and claimed the bureau was accepting payment for old debts. First of all, legitimate lenders don't ask for up-front payments.

Second, the bureau is not a debt collection service and doesn't give out loans. The Better Business Bureau advises consumers looking for a personal loan to never do business with someone who calls with a loan offer you didn't ask for. Financial institutions don't work that way. You have to apply and be approved for credit.

Don't do business with someone who cannot or will not give you an address. Always do your research on a company before doing business with them at bbb.org and read its business review and history of complaints.

In case of emergency: Are you prepared?

The bureau encourages consumers to take time and prepare during National Preparedness Month this month.

The month is dedicated to encouraging the public to assess and prepare for local disaster risks and unplanned emergencies. With the recent West fertilizer plant explosion and the 2011 Bastrop fires, Texas has had its fair share of disasters. Better Business Bureau urges families to prepare for the unexpected and devise their own emergency preparedness plans.

There are two things every family should do to prepare for any kind of disaster:

1. Make a plan. Discuss with family and friends how you'll contact each other, where you'll meet if you can't go home and what you'll do in specific situations like a tornado or fire.

2. Prepare an emergency kit. If disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water or electricity. Your emergency kit should include items such as:

a. A three-day supply of food and water

b. Flashlights with extra batteries

c. First-aid kit

d. Multifunctional tools, such as a wrench or pliers

e. Power inverter or solar charger for electronics such as your cellphone.

Families may also want to consider including such items as prescription medications, infant formula and diapers, pet food and cash. Remember to check your supplies every few months and replace expired items.

Other things to keep in mind:

Catalogue your valuables. Take pictures of your valuables and place them in a safe. This can help the insurance company assess the dollar amount for your losses.

Protect important documents. Place copies of important family documents such as birth certificates, passports, insurance policies and photos in a waterproof, portable container near your escape route.

Start with trust. Whether you're shopping for insurance before a disaster strikes or looking for a company to clean damaged areas, remove debris and rebuild, check the company's Business Review at bbb.org first.

Know where to turn. Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have many resources available to help families prepare for what to do before, during and after disasters happen.

For more tips you can trust, contact Better Business Bureau's Consumer Help Line 361-827-7151 or contact Tracy Bracy at info@corpuschristi.bbb.org

Tracy Bracy is the regional director of the Better Business Bureau for Corpus Christi/Victoria. Contact her by email at info@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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