Author Archives: BBB of Greater Kansas City

BBB Tips: Identity Theft

By:  Council of Better Business Bureaus

Protecting your identity is largely your own responsibility. The first rule of ID protections is:  if you don’t need it, destroy it – responsibly

Better Business Bureau of Greater Kansas, AARP-Missouri and Office of the Kansas Attorney General have partnered to offer a free shred event. BBB’s across the country are hosting shred events in support of “Secure Your ID Day”.  For a by state list of events, click here.

Everyday Habits to Safeguard Your Identity 

Scams are designed to either steal your money now, or steal your identity now in order to steal your money later. Scammers have all kinds of techniques to collect personally identifiable information (PII). Once they have it, they can effectively become you, using your identity to open accounts, file taxes, or obtain medical coverage.

How the Scam Works:

With enough information about you, a scammer can take over your identity and commit a wide range of crimes. Scammers can make false applications for loans and credit cards, withdraw money from your bank account, or obtain services that the scammer would otherwise be denied.

Identity theft may take a long time to detect. Scammers typically ensure that bills and statements for new accounts are not sent to your address. You may not notice what is happening until the scammer has already inflicted substantial damage on your assets, credit, and reputation.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, it is very important to act quickly.      In the U.S., visit www.identitytheft.gov for information on how to stop and recover from identity theft. In Canada, the Anti-Fraud Centre has information on identity theft.

Tips to Spot This Scam:

  • Look for unexplained withdrawals, charges, and accounts.When reviewing your bank account, credit card statements, or credit reports, you notice unfamiliar charges, accounts or withdrawals. You may stop receiving certain bills because scammers have changed the address associated with your bank account or credit card. Debt collectors may call you about debts that aren’t yours.
  • Check your credit reports regularly for unauthorized inquiries and accounts.In the U.S., you have the right to check your credit report with each of the three credit bureaus once per year at annualcreditreport.com.      Space these checks out across the year, and you will know fairly quickly if something is awry. In Canada, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides information on requesting a free credit report.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.

 

Employee Spotlight: Cherie Reese, Vice President

By Dustin Johnson

Cherie Reese is the current Vice President of the BBB of Greater Kansas City. She has been with the BBB since 1993, starting from a complaint specialist and working her way through many roles. Her passion is helping people avoid scams and promoting good trustworthy business practices.

Cherie has many hobbies, one of her favorites would be S.C.U.B.A. diving and she has traveled to a few choice destinations to enjoy underwater sites. She helped start a dive shop in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and also helped start a computer software company to help companies become Y2K compliant. Other hobbies are art, painting and sketching, visiting museums, going to festivals and exploring new restaurants. Spending time with mother, Jean Young, two sons Steve and Aaron Reese and two grandsons, Nikolas and Zackery Reese is very important to Cherie. Marley, the bichon dog, is definitely part of the family and demands play time as soon as she walks through the door.

Cherie and her significant other, Steve, love to find new restaurants and try new dishes. Traveling to the Lake of the Ozarks, staying at their cabin, and inviting people to share the fun with, is something they also love.

How Does BBB Accreditation Help Charities?

By Jennifer McGlothen

Before we answer that question, let’s affirm that the Better Business Bureau offers accreditation to charitable organizations. Yes, we do! That is a little known fact about BBB services.

It may also be a surprise to know that only about 30% of donors do any research before donating to a charity, which leaves an overwhelming majority vulnerable to scams. Several sources state that charity fraud is on the rise.  It certainly doesn’t help that the IRS has a simplified version of the application form for tax exempt status for some groups, and also reduced the processing fee.  So, the number of new charities is rising dramatically.  It is vitally important that information is available to help donors make wise giving decisions. Equally important is for organizations to be accountable and transparent in providing this information. BBB Charity Review is a solution on both counts.

The charity review program of the Kansas City BBB began in 2009. Since 2012 when I came on board, one of the main challenges that I hear about from organizations is how to build awareness. BBB Charity Review can also help charities in this area. The BBB brand is strong, recognizable and communicates trust.

Charity review is a free service, providing an avenue for charities to demonstrate accountability and for donors to make informed giving decisions. We produce reports about local / regional charities, evaluating them against  comprehensive BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability.

What is the BBB Wise Giving Alliance?

BBB WGA reports on nationally soliciting charities that the public has most often asked about as well as charities that request to be evaluated. Give.org reports on about 1,300 nationally soliciting charities. In addition, about half of the 112 Better Business Bureaus in the United States and Canada (Kansas City BBB being one of them) cumulatively produce reports on over 10,000 locally soliciting charities using the same BBB Charity Standards as BBB WGA. Charities can be searched at give.org.

How does a charity become accredited?

A great first step is to review the BBB Charity Accountability Standards to make sure your organization is prepared to meet them. Here are abbreviated infographics to get a basic visual overview of the standards.  Please visit How We Accredit Charities for details.Standards Infographics Poster

Next step is to submit an enrollment form at https://www.give.org/enroll-your-charity?BureauID=0674 , after which access to our online questionnaire based on the standards is provided.

The questionnaire is completed, financial statements, an annual report and samples of fundraising appeals are uploaded.  After evaluation, BBB provides an initial review and where possible works with an organization to allow an opportunity to meet any standards not met. A charity must meet all 20 standards covering governance, effectiveness, finances and fundraising for accreditation.  A draft report is provided for review prior to publishing.

As long as a charity meets all standardsthere is the OPTION to license the seal for use on the organization’s website and fundraising materials. The licensing fee is annual, $125, $225 or $325 depending on organization revenue. All accredited charities are included in promotional efforts of the Kansas City BBB, whether they license the seal or not.

Here’s what staff members of accredited organizations have to say:

Assistance League of Kansas CityAssistance League of Kansas City® fulfills specific unmet needs of children and adults in the Kansas City area through ten philanthropic programs developed, funded and operated by dedicated volunteers and community partners.

“BBB accreditation adds tremendous credibility for our business, The RESALE Shop, which is our main fundraiser for our programs, and also helped us with transparency to our donors.”

~ Cindy McGinnis, Strategic Planning Chairman

Angel Flight Central serves people in need by arranging charitable flights for health afc-logocare or other humanitarian purposes.  

“The review process was, and continues to be an OUTSTANDING exercise for our organization to go through – and regardless of the outcome, we are operating more efficiently, effectively and transparently as a result of the review questions.  The challenge attracts great conversation, planning and continuous evolving. It’s a low-cost, healthy exercise that can only lead to positive results.  We very much look forward to utilizing all of BBB’s resources for our daily operations.  Highly recommended for all non-profit organizations!”

~Brendan Sneegas, Director of Outreach & Development

First Call Alcohol / Drug Prevention & Recovery  It is the mission of First Call to reduce firstcall_logo_epsthe impact of alcohol, drugs and addiction by providing quality resources to individuals, families and the community.

“In 2014, First Call Alcohol/Drug Prevention & Recovery applied and became a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity. As a non-profit we believe it is very important to stay transparent to both the people we serve and the people who support our work. The BBB Charity Accreditation process provides a robust look at the work of nonprofit agencies. From financials to governing boards to the services agencies provide, you can find all of the information on their Review Page. With our 60th anniversary coming next year, we feel it is vital to ensure the citizens of the Kansas City Metro learn about us in as many ways as possible, and the BBB Charity Accreditation is an important part of this mission.”

~Melissa Gard, Administrative & Operations Manager

To view BBB accredited Kansas City charities click here.

Back to our title question, we are hopeful that the comments of our accredited charities have provided answers. And if that’s not enough, here are more reasons why BBB charity accreditation is a cost-effective marketing tool that should not be overlooked.

  • 98% of the public is familiar with the BBB brand
  • Strengthens overall operations
  • Demonstrates commitment to accountability beyond legal requirements
  • Reassures donors that contributions are used effectively
  • Attracts new donors
  • Free of charge

Whether you’re a donor, board member or on staff at a charitable organization, we hope you’ll find reason to be familiar with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and BBB Charity Review.  Go to give.org for more information.

Pet Perspective – Bentley The Goldendoodle

BentleyBy:  Jennifer McGlothen

On July 12th, my son, daughter and I picked up an eight week old furry, four-legged addition to our family, Bentley the goldendoodle! Looking back on his ride home, he must have been saying, “I’m happy but do you really think I’m going to make it easy for you?”

We talked about this new responsibility and my teenagers are pretty much carrying the load, but as I suspected, I have to pitch in a lot. Bentley is cute as a button but …………

My wake up signal is now whining and barking! I’ve never been a morning person and pre-Bentley I’d peel my eyes open, have some quiet contemplation and prayer before I face the world. Teenagers out of school are slower than me getting up and going so I choose to give my ears a break and go let Bentley out of his crate to begin his morning routine. Guess I should be grateful that he sleeps pretty quietly in the crate all night.

My morning routine has been disrupted! I now have to make time to take a trip outside at 6:30AM. I don’t want to think about that during cold weather. Perhaps we can get to the point where we can send him out by himself and he’ll come back when his business is done? And he can’t get his own food and water yet, so that’s an important addition to my morning list of “to do’s”. Soon as he hears the sound of the door where the food is he goes ballistic, jumping up and down as if springs were in his legs and starts running full speed, whipping around the corner towards his food dish as if he hasn’t eaten in days.

BentleyMy budget needs a new line item! Knew we needed a crate, collar, leash and other basics, but I never thought a vet office visit would be more than I pay for my doctor’s office visit! I might be looking into pet insurance! Then I was flabbergasted at the selections of toys, treats and other products for fur babies, but I didn’t get sucked in on that stuff. We bought a couple of toys, his favorite being a stuffed fox, but empty water bottles, old dish towels and other stuff provide good chomping and chasing activity.

My sense of smell is turned up a few notches! I never owned a dog until now but, over the years I have walked in some people’s houses and immediately knew they had a dog. I told myself if I ever had one, I didn’t want my house to smell like it. He is past the point of accidents in the house thank goodness, but after rolling in the grass and doing the stuff dogs do, I guess they just smell doggy. So, at the least indication of ‘eau de kennel’ fragrance in the air, I am chasing Bentley to spritz him with deodorizer if it’s not Wednesday or Sunday (bath days). I’m cleaning our hardwood floors much more than I used to so that’s kinda good. Amazing how a dog’s sense of smell is so much stronger than that of humans and if Bentley could talk, he’d probably say “you are the one that stinks, but I love you anyway.”

BentleyMy, My, My………. life is different these days! Perhaps that’s exactly the point, it’s not about me?  Having a pet is all about giving up part of me to help care for this growing puppy. My friends and colleagues say it’s all worth it because of the unconditional love they give back.

Oh alright Bentley, you can stay!

Several of the BBB staff have pets that they truly adore. I’m sure they’d like to share Pet Perspectives in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBB of Kansas City at a Glance

Magnifying GlassAuthor: Dustin Johnson

I wanted to share what the Kansas City BBB has done over the past year. You may not know how much the BBB does to further its mission to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.

Here are the statistics for the last year:

1,021,087 Inquiries
This is the number of times that BBB Business Reviews on local businesses were provided free of charge. The vast majority of business reviews were viewed by consumers through our website.

19,568 Complaints Closed
Number of complaints BBB processed against greater Kansas City and surrounding area businesses.

4,930 Customer Reviews Submitted
Consumers who had a marketplace interaction with a business can share their experience whether positive, negative or somewhere in between and rate it on a 5 star scale. We expect the number of reviews to increase dramatically over the next few years as news of this newer BBB service continues to spread.

49 Advertising Review Cases Closed
BBB routinely monitors advertising within the marketplace and contacts businesses whose advertisements may not meet BBB’s Code of Advertising.

27 Investigations Performed
While BBB does many more simple investigations into businesses, their principal(s) and practices, this is the number of more significant cases where BBB seeks voluntary correction through written correspondence, seeking clarification and/or correction of the practices and/or information that BBB is investigating. BBB also informs the public on their review along with press releases and other media outreach. Additionally, information may be provided to local prosecutors, federal, state or local agencies for potential legal action.

There are a total of 2,547 accredited businesses as of the end of June.

Here’s a breakdown of activity from 7/1/2017 – 6/30/2017:

  • 302 applications for accreditation were vetted and approved by BBB officials and its Board of Directors.
  • 56 applications were denied.
  • 6 Revocations. Businesses who did not maintain BBB’s Standards for Accreditation had their accreditation revoked.
  • 90% Retention Rate. Only those businesses who are meeting BBB accreditation standards are invited to renew their annual commitment to BBB’s Standards for Trust.

We would like to thank our accredited businesses for their commitment to the BBB’s core values and support of services to the public.

Learn about BBB, obtain reviews on businesses and charities, find or report scams, submit complaints/customer reviews, find a BBB Accredited Business and more at www.bbb.org/kansas-city.

Employee Spotlight: Dustin Johnson, Director of Accreditation

By Cherie Reese

Dustin Profile PictureThis month I’d like to introduce Dustin Johnson, BBB Serving Greater Kansas City’s Director of Accreditation. Dustin started his career with the BBB in March 2004 as a sales representative for new memberships. One year later became our Retention Services Manager and in December of 2008 to his current position.

Dustin leads our accreditation department in obtaining support from businesses that meet and agree to BBB’s Code of Business Practices (Accreditation Standards).

Dustin manages a staff of five. His team garners new applications, retains existing accredited businesses, and provides additional leadership and assistance to the Operations team. Dustin also works closely with BBB’s vendors for sales and advertising to provide exceptional services to businesses within our communities.

Dustin was born and raised on a small farm in northwest Iowa. Today, Dustin often takes a few days off every fall to head back to the farm to help with harvest. After high school graduation, Dustin attended college and graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri.

Dustin soon settled in the Kansas City area where he has lived for the past 21 years. Dustin is married to his beautiful wife, Renee. They have a lovely daughter, Kayla, who will soon be completing her education at the University of Kansas. In the past they’ve enjoyed supporting their daughter’s participation and achievements in pageants, dance and cheer activities.

Dustin now enjoys spending his spare time at the gym, playing in a men’s basketball league, working on home improvement projects and traveling the countryside. Dustin is also a big fan of the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas Jayhawks and enjoys watching sporting events on TV with his friends and family.

Northern Networking: The BBB Presents at Northland Coffee Connect, Hosted at iWerx

Author: Jennifer McGlothen

Northland Coffee Connect Hosted at iWerkxI live in South Kansas City, and while I was familiar with Northland Coffee Connect, I hadn’t made the extra effort to arrive at this 7:45AM networking event north of the river. I had run into Terri S. Turner of TST Marketing & Communications Services some time ago and she mentioned I should check out the event. Then a few months ago, one of our colleagues at the BBB who lives north also mentioned the event. It was time to check it out!

Terri works to manage Northland Coffee Connect so I contacted her to learn more. We scheduled a date for the BBB to share about how we advance trust in the marketplace.

Northland Coffee Connect Hosted at iWerkxThe week prior to the presentation, I decided I would attend to make some new connections and see the iWerx co-working space. I was sorry that I had not made a point to get there long ago! It was a great group of people, great coffee and a great space! The living room arrangement adds such a nice touch.

So, on Wednesday, June 21st, I and two of my colleagues arrived at iWerx bright and early to provide an overview of what the Better Business Bureau does. If you like infographics, here is what that overview looks like:

BBB at a glance

If you like live video snippets, I’ve got those for you also!

Dustin Johnson, Director of Accreditation Services covered some stats and how people use BBB information.
(21 seconds)

Aaron Reese, Manager of Information & Media Services covered advertising review.
(54 seconds)

Northland Coffee ConnectI spoke about our charity review program and how it’s a public service to both charities and donors, but I didn’t video myself! You can check out lots of presentations on Northland Coffee Connect’s Facebook page.

We got good feedback from some attendees and we’re glad that we were able to share details about the varied activities of the BBB. Last but not least, we thank Northland Coffee Connect, iWerx  and their sponsors.

No matter what area of town you live or work, check out Northland Coffee Connect and iWerx!  We know you will find exactly what we found – great people, great coffee and a refreshing space!