Category Archives: Advertising

Tips For Buying From the Facebook Marketplace.

By Aaron Reese

Facebook MarketplaceThe Facebook Marketplace is steadily growing in popularity. Like Craigslist, it displays a local collection of personal sale classified ads. One reason it’s probably gaining in popularity is that a seller must have a Facebook account. There’s no denying the overwhelming popularity of Facebook. Most people surf the site daily, and it’s awfully convenient to do some shopping while you’re there.

When a seller has a Facebook page, it’s comforting. It helps set a buyer at ease. If the seller’s Facebook page is public, you can see the person’s profile picture. You can look at his or her activity and friends, political rants, friendship quizzes and whatever else they are doing. Craigslist, on the other hand, all but guarantees anonymity with its auto-generated email addresses. It’s easy to see why the Facebook Marketplace might rival Craigslist. It’s a trust thing.

But not so fast.

We already know that Facebook is rife with scams. The BBB issues warnings about them all the time. We also publish articles about plenty of Craigslist scams. Both sites come with their own risks. With the advent of the Facebook Marketplace, we’re seeing a combination of two kinds of scams.

Facebook scams often exploit people’s trust in their Facebook friends list. Scammers will replicate someone’s page, stealing their pictures and sending friend requests to everyone on that person’s friends list. When the scammer gets a few approved friend requests on the fake profile, he’ll start hitting up people in his friends list for money. Sometimes scammers ask to borrow funds for personal reasons. Sometimes scammers tell people that they’ve won a sweepstakes. Sometimes they steer people to scam sites.

Scammers are pulling some of those same tricks to swindle people in the Marketplace. They’re creating fake profiles and claiming to have great deals on merchandise. Scammers are tricky, but you can look for a few red flags that reveal them for what they are.

F-150The deal is too good to be true. You’ll find some great deals in the Marketplace. People will try to get rid of unwanted stuff, but try to recognize when it’s not realistic. For example, I found a 2015 Ford F150, 4-door with chrome running boards on sale for $4,500. That truck is worth $31,000. No one, and I mean no one mind would sell it for so little. The best case scenario is that the seller truly wishes to unload it for so little money…because it’s stolen.

The photos are from the manufacturer’s promotional material. If a seller lists a home entertainment center, they should have pictures of the one they actually own. If they provide a picture with a pristine white background and professional multi-angle lighting, you can safely assume that the seller did not take the picture. You have no way of knowing what the entertainment center looks like, what condition it’s in or if it even really exists

The seller asks you to wire money. Sometimes sellers claim to be out of town. They might tell you that they’ve had other offers, but they’ll do you a favor and hold the item if you wire them some cash. Don’t do this. Ever.

The seller’s Facebook page has no activity. This is a pretty good indication that the profile is new to Facebook and probably fake. If the seller has a private profile, send a friend request so that you can see their history. If you don’t see anything older than a week, don’t buy from them.

You can find more about Facebook scams here and Classified Ad scams here.

If you’ve had experiences with scams in the Facebook Marketplace, let us know. Leave a comment or report it to BBB’s Scamtracker.

Here’s How To Protect Yourself From Door-to-Door Salespeople

Author: Aaron Reese

No SolicitingAs the weather has warmed, you may have noticed more door-to-door solicitors in your area. You’ve probably had more fliers attached to your screen doors or pamphlets stuffed in your mailboxes. It happens every year. And, of course, with more solicitors coming door-to-door, the risk of coming into contact with scams increases.

The BBB has recently been receiving word of more aggressive tactics by magazine sales companies and charity solicitors, so now is probably a good time for a refresher in what to do when confronted by door-to-door salespeople.

You can find hundreds of articles about how to protect yourselves from door-to-door solicitors, but some of them probably go a little too far in how they portray salespeople. Many articles advise that homeowners should never talk to salespeople. That’s certainly an effective way to avoid door-to-door fraud, but I think it goes a little too far. Most businesses are just trying to find some new customers and door-to-door is one way to do that. I prefer to treat these visits like any other type of advertising… most are fine; some lie. Prepare yourselves for the liars.

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What is Substantiation and why is it important to businesses?

By Aaron Reese

The BBB does this thing called “Ad-review.” If we spot a potentially misleading advertisement, we ask the advertiser to prove what they claim. We’ve found that most businesses are not familiar with the nuances of advertising law and frequently don’t even know they’ve done anything wrong before we contact them. They’re just trying to bring attention to their business.

FTCThe BBB challenges ads because we want to make sure businesses don’t accidentally get themselves in trouble. The FTC or Attorney General’s office may not have time to deal with every misleading advertising claim, but customers who feel misled because of an ad have the time and the will.

Luckily, the easiest way to avoid most potential problems is also the easiest. Businesses should have prior substantiation for any claim they put in an ad. If businesses need more motivation to have prior substantiation, they should also know it’s the law.

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The Dangers of Guaranteeing Satisfaction.

Author: Aaron Reese

Satisfaction Guarantees“Satisfaction Guarantees” have been getting businesses in more trouble than any advertising claim should. They’re not worth it. The BBB receives complaints that would never have been filed, if not for the guarantee.

Guaranteed satisfaction is so definitive, so unbending–ultimate. It leaves no wiggle room for unforeseen variables. Either customers are 100% satisfied, or they aren’t. If they aren’t, it can cause headaches for a business that guarantees satisfaction.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations (16 CFR 239.3(a)):

A seller or manufacturer should use the terms “Satisfaction Guarantee,” “Money Back Guarantee,” “Free Trial Offer,” or similar representations in advertising only if the seller or manufacturer, as the case may be, refunds the full purchase price of the advertised product at the purchaser’s request.

See the problem? A business must be willing to refund the full amount paid on any product or service if the customer is the least bit dissatisfied.

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