Better Business Bureau

Sweepstakes, lottery and prize schemes are targeting victims financially and emotionally with a number of methods that continue to evolve. That’s according to a new study by the Better Business Bureau.

Such scams took $117 billion out of the pockets of a half-million Americans and Canadians in 2017 – the actual totals are likely much higher. Tammy Ward at the BBB office in Pensacola says the scams’ origins are generally Jamaica, Costa Rica and Nigeria. More than 95% of reported fraud in Jamaica involves lottery or sweepstakes scams.

It's the season to be filing tax returns, and for scammers and identity thieves it can feel like another Christmas. But, you can keep your information safe with a little effort and preparation.

This is the fourth year the IRS has rolled out its “Dirty Dozen” tax scams, one per day over a dozen business days. In a video produced for the website, the agency reports an increase in tax scams by telephone.

Calls are going out to help those victimized by Hurricane Harvey. But the challenge is, which are legitimate and which are not? That’s where the Better Business Bureau can help.

More than 20 inches of rain has fallen over parts of Texas, with another 15-25 inches expected in the days to come. Help is pouring in, and neighbors have been helping neighbors.

That’s the best of it; then there’s the dark side.

'Tis the season to be jolly-- and targeted.

The Better Business Bureau has some tips on how to get what you want for the holidays, and not what the scammers want. 

For Tammy Ward at the BBB office in Pensacola, it’s getting more amazing every year.

“The more technology we have it seems like the more opportunity for scammers to try to take our money from us.”

Ward adds that the overall rule of thumb when shopping online for those Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa gifts is to make sure you’re at the retailer’s actual website.

Photo via Flickr//Conred Guatemala /

Scammers prey on people’s fears to make money: it’s what they do. So with the Zika outbreak, they’re cashing in on anxiety over the disease. The Better Business Bureau is urging everyone not to fall for them.

Tammy Ward with the BBB in Pensacola tells us how such scams work, and that they’re online for the most part.  

Kyte Aymond

  The rapid success and growth of Pokémon Go is not being lost on those who are busy finding ways to go phishing, and cash in at players’ expense.

The operative word here is “free.” But some scammers are working to convince players that there is a cost involved.

“Especially if they have die-hard fans that are on their phones, they’re going to possibly get an email that says ‘I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the game; but now you’re going to have to pay for it,’” says Tammy Ward at the Better Business Bureau in Pensacola.

Photo via Flickr//Shannon McGee /

Summer is on the way and so are more festival scams. The Better Business Bureau says would-be festival goers are being tempted to buy tickets which are either fake or for a bogus event.

Here’s how such a scam could work: you see a great deal on tickets to a summer festival in your city, usually through a social media link.

Lindsay Myers

 This week’s arrest of a Molino man could serve as a reminder to use extreme caution when hiring a building contractor.

Fifty-one-year-old Kenneth Malarik is charged with felony unlicensed contracting during a state of emergency; felony grand theft and unpermitted construction. Building Services Director Don Mayo says the charges were filed after their investigation.

If it’s tax season, then it’s also time for scammers to pose as employees of the Internal Revenue Service. The Better Business Bureau has some tips on fighting back.

Tax-related scams cost victims more than $23 million per year, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  Reports have reached TIGTA of almost 900,000 scam contacts over the past two and a half years. Just this year, the IRS has seen a 400% increase in phishing schemes.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

As people generously open their pocketbooks and give towards tornado relief in Century and Pensacola, the Better Business Bureau is reminding them to be careful not to misplace their kindness.

Let’s begin with cash donations. To ensure your contribution is tax deductible, you should give to charitable organizations that are tax exempt: 501(c)(3) charities. Tammy Ward at the BBB’s Northwest Florida office says also give locally, where you know how your money will be handled. And watch out for red flags.

Photo via Flickr// Vicki DeLoach /

With “Giving Tuesday” the unofficial start of the holiday donation season, the Better Business Bureau is out with some advice on making sure your money goes to a trustworthy organization.

Charities in the United States receive about one-third of their annual donations during the holiday season, according to the BBB. But also lurking out there are scammers looking for their ill-gotten piece of the pie. Tammy Ward at the BBB in Pensacola says many of the scams are from the anonymity of cyberspace.

If you think you’re ready for tax season, but have not heard about tax identity theft, then maybe you’re not ready. The Better Business Bureau reminds everyone that this is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, tax-related was the most common form of identity theft reported in 2014, with more than 109,000 complaints.

Pensacola International Airport

  It’s time to hit the road, or in this case the air, for the holiday season. The Better Business Bureau has some advice aimed at helping make the flight home or to that winter vacation less chaotic.

Rule number one is: if you haven’t already booked your flight, do it now. The earlier the better, and using an online travel site could save you some money.

Word is going out from the Better Business Bureau, about a variety of Ebola related scams and problematic fundraisers recently emerging.

The BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance is working with chapters serving Dallas, where the first victim died and two nurses became infected; in Cleveland, where one of the nurses traveled before getting sick; and with several other local BBBs to investigate Ebola-related efforts.


If you get a call from someone saying they are from the I-R-S and you owe them money...they're not and you don't. Danielle Rudd, the Communications Director for the Better Business Bureau serving Northwest Florida says that's the take home message about a series of scams going on in the region.


  Data breaches are big news these days, including a recent incident involving Russian hackers. The Better Business Bureau has some advice about protecting your identity.

About a dozen hackers in south-central Russia called “CyberVor” (“vor” is the Russian word for “thief”) stole 1.2 billion username and password combinations, according to a report in the New York Times. James Cole, a Deputy U.S. Attorney General, says the thefts were made through a program called “Game Over Zeus.”

Photo via Flickr// Banzai Hiroaki

Vacations, home repairs, and entertainment are some of the most popular staples of summer. But the Better Business Bureau says beware of some of the more popular summer scams.

Danielle Rudd with the BBB’s Northwest Florida office says while many are relaxing, others are hard at work on ways to separate them from their money. Vacations can be ruined by fake travel agents and bogus offers online, such as a fake timeshare rental or a falsely promised Disney vacation.

A “one ring” phone scam is being reported across the United States. The Better Business Bureau is alerting the public to this simple—yet extremely effective—ploy that can result in unauthorized charges on wireless statements.

Here’s how it works: automated dialers blast thousands of random calls to mobile numbers obtained from public listings or from black market dealers —who hustle “sucker lists”— the call disconnects after one ring.

Looking For BCS Tickets? Be Wary Of Scams.

Dec 19, 2013

Football fans in Northwest Florida who are planning a trip to the BCS National Championship football game on January 6th are being advised to be careful with whom they deal when they purchase tickets.

Danielle Rudd with northwest Florida’s Better Business Bureau says there’s no shortage of websites, classified ads and even word-of-mouth offering tickets to see Florida State square off against Auburn in Pasadena, California. She says always do your homework before you make that purchase.

Pensacola International Airport

It’s time to hit the road  or, for some, the air  for the holiday season. The Better Business Bureau has some tips to help make the trip home or to that fall vacation less chaotic.

Danielle Rudd with the BBB’s Northwest Florida office says rule number one is: if you haven’t already booked your flight, do it now! The earlier the better, and using an online travel site could save you some money by bundling air fare, rental car and  hotel room.