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Better Business Bureau: Check apartment history before signing lease

Aug. 4, 2014 at 12:57 p.m.
Updated Aug. 4, 2014 at 6:01 p.m.


The ins and outs of finding a place to live can sometimes be difficult to navigate, even with a real estate agent.

Whether you are a college student looking for a place to live or just a new resident to the area, with so many options, searching for an apartment can be a daunting task. The Better Business Bureau receives thousands of complaints against apartment complexes every year, consistently placing the apartment industry on the bureau's top 10 list of most complained about industries.

Start with bbb.org to see the bureau's Business Review of the apartment complex you are considering. There, you can view a company's Better Business Bureau rating, how it handles complaints as well as the complaint details and contact information.

Consumers should read their lease thoroughly before signing and point out any discrepancies or questions.

To find out more information about a company or charity, call the bureau's Consumer Help Line at 361-827-7151.

Back to school

The back-to-school and back-to-college shopping season already is underway, and according the National Retail Federation, the average family with children in grades kindergarten through 12th will spend almost $700 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics. To save time and money, the bureau encourages families to sign up for email alerts at their favorite stores and take advantage of discount offers.

It is also a good idea to make a shopping list. Even if you don't have a school supply list yet, you can still purchase other items like school clothing and in-class school essentials like pens, notebooks and backpacks.

Make sure you check the refund or exchange policies and keep your receipts.

More savvy shopper advice can be found at watchyourbuck.com.

Charity review

Whatever charity you prefer to support, it always feels good to give back to your community or to a cause you are passionate about. Unfortunately, not all charities manage donor contributions in the same manner. It's important to have a clear understanding of a charitable organization's mission, work and financials before you donate. The bureau's Wise Giving Alliance helps donors make informed giving decisions and promotes high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public.

The bureau's Charity Reports offer an unbiased overview, so consumers can feel confident when giving. We do not rank charities but rather seek to assist donors in making informed judgments about those that solicit their support. To find out more information about a company or charity, call the bureau's Consumer Helpline at 361-827-7151 or visit Give.org today.

Scholarship scams

Millions of students depend on annual grants and scholarships to get through school. Many companies now sell information about financial aid availability and offer application services.

The bureau warns that not all financial aid offers are legitimate. Complaints received by the bureau explain some students receive direct mail from a financial aid company announcing students were eligible for a scholarship and needed to set up an interview to receive it.

Students and parents report the interview was just a group seminar, and they paid more than $1,000 in fees to the company for the services received, which were nothing more than assistance with basic paperwork. The bureau reminds students and parents that free information on financial aid is available at FAFSA.gov.

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

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