Better Business Bureau: Businesses need to keep up with world wide web
Feb. 26, 2011 at midnight
Updated Feb. 25, 2011 at 8:26 p.m.
By Alan Bligh
Consumers prefer doing business with companies they trust - and they use the Internet to find them. The longer companies refuse to accept the influence of consumer-to-consumer communication and perpetuate the old ways of doing business, the more they will alienate and drive away their customers. Things are changing so fast. For example, a short five years ago, BBB reports on companies were issued by telephone and complaints were handled via fax and snail mail.
Now, almost 95 percent of both inquires and complaints are handled online. All of this begs the question: Do you know what is being said online about your business? Is your business being reviewed in online forums or blogs? Are consumers getting correct information? Or are they reading negative reviews by disgruntled customers?
The first step is to visit search engines, such as Google, and do a vanity search of your business. If there is inaccurate information, you need to know in order to take corrective action if possible. Also, what about your website? If you do not have one, you may be losing business. If you have a site, is it easy to find? Is content current and correct? Is your blog up to date?
You hear it everywhere. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime. That may be, but some very heavy hitters disagree. According to Javelin Research, identity theft has dropped by nearly a third last year. The research shows that only 3.5 percent of the U.S. population was victimized by this crime last year, down from 4.8 percent the year before. This is the result of a multitude of factors;
Greater care by financial institutions
More eagle-eyed consumers watching over their accounts
The post-recession recovery of retail sales, which have an inverse relationship with ID fraud.
The study also cites two heightened risks worth keeping a closer eye on. First, remember losing one's debit card is way more serious than losing your credit card. And second, beware of so-called "friendly fraud," committed by friends, relatives, and co-workers.
So, even if identity theft is declining, we still must be vigilant and we still can become a victim. People ask us all the time." What are the steps I should take if I become a victim of identity theft?"
Place a fraud alert on your three credit reports.
Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.
File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
And, make sure you review your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies.
There will be other steps depending on the individual circumstances.
Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by e-mail at abligh@corpus christi.bbb.org.