By Rod Davis
President, BBB serving Southeast FL and the Caribbean
Having worked for BBB since 1984, I have been around long enough to remember when all questions and information were provided to callers. The internet was not yet providing information to consumers and Google was years away. When I moved to Florida and became the CEO for BBB serving Southeast Florida and the Caribbean in 2015, it became clear that to serve our community well, we had to provide various communication platforms to receive and share information.
Most BBB information is currently accessed by consumers visiting our website (www.BBB.org/SEFL). Last year alone we received and processed over 40,000 complaints, received over 148,000 calls, posted 20,000 verified reviews, were visited by 4.2 million different consumers and shared over 6 million reports on businesses to help consumers decide where to spend their dollars. In the mix of information going to and from consumers are thousands of questions each year. Since your neighbors are asking these questions, I thought many of you might have the same questions. Here are a few of the questions and answers we have received recently.
Question: Are there are any legitimate opportunities to work from home? (Paula B.)
Answer: It is always good to check on work at home opportunities since there are many scams in this space seeking to obtain your personal information or banking information.
With internet and voice over IP phones, there are many more legitimate options for individuals seeking to work at home. Some well-known companies provide options to work from home like JetBlue: www.Work-Here.JetBlue.com/#Modal-Title-286.
Additionally, there are businesses that create virtual call centers and offer services to multiple companies. Some of these include: www.Arise.com and www.GreatVirtualWorks.com/Become-An-Agent/.
It is always good to check out the businesses before you contact them about work opportunities and especially before providing any personal information. Don’t just respond to a phone number or email that comes to you with job offers as these can be phishing scams. Check to make sure the business is legitimate, review their BBB Business Profile (www.BBB.org) and check to see that any phone numbers or email address is connected to a valid business. If you can’t verify their email or phone number using other sources (e.g. business directories) don’t provide your personal information.
GlassDoor.com also provides a resource to see what employees have to say about a potential employer. Most of the opportunities to work from home also impose requirements (e.g. high-speed data line, computer.). Find out about any requirements, and whether you are paid for training and of course, detailed information about compensation and benefits so you can make an informed decision about whether the opportunity is one that works for you.
Question: Any complaints on Sea Breeze Roofing? (Ted A.)
Answer: Dear Ted, you can obtain a full report on Seabreeze Roofing on www.BBB.org/SEFL. The BBB report will provide any complaints BBB has received in the last three years on a business, a rating based on many factors (e.g. how many complaints relative to the size of the business, how complaints are answered and resolved, whether the business has any government actions, whether the business is properly licensed, etc.). BBBs report on each business will also include any reviews filed by consumers about the business. Based on their marketplace activity Seabreeze has an A+ rating, with 7 positive reviews and 1 complaint that was resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. While the BBB reports on all businesses, only businesses with a B or better rating may apply to be BBB accredited. A BBB accredited business must continue to meet the BBB Code of Business. The business’s accreditation will be revoked and have their rating negatively impacted should they not live up to that commitment.
Question: I am looking for a financial advisor to manage my retirement account. Any advice? (Gina P.)
Answer: Investment scams and brokers and firms with problematic records can put your retirement in jeopardy. FINRA is a not-for-profit organization authorized by Congress to protect America’s investors by making sure the broker-dealer industry operates fairly and honestly. On the FINRA website (www.FINRA.org) you will find guidance and resources to help find an ethical partner to help you prepare for retirement. BrokerCheck is a free tool on the FINRA site to research the background and experience of financial brokers, advisers and firms. The tool helps verify licensing and provides information about any complaints or disciplinary actions filed by FINRA. Additionally, it is wise to talk to friends and family and also check the applicable report on BBB before making a final decision.
If you have a question you would like more information about, please send an email to me at AskRod@BBBSEFL.org. If you are thinking about it, someone else is as well and I will share the question and answer in a future column.