Better Business Bureau: Shopping green has guidelines

Oct. 27, 2014 at 11:09 p.m.
Updated Oct. 28, 2014 at 12:14 a.m.

Environmental claims and labels can influence our choices, so it's important they tell the real story. The Federal Trade Commission found that consumers often interpreted "eco-friendly" claims as being considerably greater than a product's actual attributes. Accordingly, the FTC created a green guide, which seeks to keep exaggerated claims to a minimum. While the Green Guides aren't technically rules or regulations, they do define what the FTC may find as deceptive marketing. They are, therefore, subject to enforcement.

What this means for you is when you're shopping, look for specific information or trusted certifications, on packages and products that tell you what makes the product environmentally friendly - and worthy of a green promotion.

Mystery Shopper Scams

My friend was once a mystery shopper. She shopped at stores to see what they were charging for certain products and visited restaurant chains to evaluate the food and service, then she would write about it and get paid.

Little did she know that a mystery or secret shopper ad could've set her up for a scam. Better Business Bureau has received reports of a scam that begins when you get an email offering "secret shopper" jobs with major retailers. Problem is, the job isn't real and it's not associated with any actual stores. You're dealing with a scammer. They will say they are sending a check but it is fake. If you deposit it, you will have to pay the bank back. BBB warns job seekers to do some homework to ensure the job is real.

Charities and the overhead myth

When it comes to your charity dollars, what's more important than how much a charity spends on its fundraising and administrative costs? Well, a lot actually.

Three leading charity evaluators said effectiveness is key and the "overhead myth" which emphasizes financial ratios, leads to simplistic information that can be misleading. BBB Wise Giving Alliance has joined with GuideStar and Charity Navigator to urge charities to help crush the false notion that overhead ratios serve as the sole basis for trusting a charity. BBB Wise Giving Alliance encourages donors to verify their trust in charities by considering the full picture of an organization's performance and not just financial ratios.

BBB Charity Reviews hope to help steer donors toward a better understanding of their activities and accomplishments. Visit give.org for more information.

Report scams or issues to the Victoria BBB Consumer Helpline at 361-827-7151. For the more news and information, find CentralTexasBBB on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Visit bbb.org/central-texas to find trustworthy businesses and leave customer reviews.

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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