Consumer Advice Q&A - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Consumer Advice Q&A

Question:  I am currently on the Indiana no call list. Is it advisable to also sign on the Federal no call list? Thank You

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your question. According to Attorney General Steve Carter, the Indiana No Call Law is more prohibitive to telemarketers, but he suggests that it would be a good idea to be on the National Do Not call List as well. As of Monday, all fifty states may call this toll free number to be placed on the National Do Not Call list, (888) 382-1222. The web site where you can register is www.donotcall.gov Should you have other questions, you may call our office at 473-0202 or toll free outside of the free calling area for Evansville at (800) 359-0979 from 9:00 - 4:00.

Question:  What number do you call to stop telemarketers calls?

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. You may visit the following web sites: To register for the National Do Not Call List, www.donotcall.gov If you are a resident of Indiana, you may visit www.in.gov/attorneygeneral or you may call the attorney general's office at (800) 382-5516. Residents of Kentucky may call the attorney general's office at (502)696-5389, and Illinois residents may call (618) 529-6400. If you need further assistance or if you have other questions, please call our office at 473-0202 or toll free at (800) 359-0979 from 9:00 - 4:00.

Question:  I rented a computer from a rental store I sign a contract that stated the computer was new I started having promblems with the system I took it back for repairs thay loaded it with the wrong programs so I called and thay stated that thay did not have the oreginal system disk I ask why the tech told me this computer had been rented sevarl times before so to find out for sure I contacted the makers of the system and thay all so confirmed it had logged on several times in the year before I ask them since it was used was the price the same he said yes it makes no difference so I let it go at that.and thay have changed the contract due date with out telling me so the whole time I thought it was due on wensday I went in on tuesday and thay charged me a late fee my queston is can thay due this with a sign rental aggreement if not what is my steps to get help because know since I brought this out thay have called and said if I miss any more thay will file charges of theft. Ps ive got it allmost paid off I paid 3000.00 thousand dollars for a 1200.00 hundred dollar system.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. For the questions you are raising, it would be best to call our office to discuss the problem you're having. You may reach our office at 473-0202 or toll free at (800) 359-0979 from 9:00 - 4:00.

Question:  What can I do about a car shop that I paid to do some work on my car.  They keep giving me the run around about it they don't know what they did wrong.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. It might be time to consider filing a formal complaint with our office. You may visit our web site and click on the file a complaint link. For other assistance, please call our office at 473-0202 or toll free at (800) 359-0979 from 9:00 - 4:00.

Question:  What are the procedures of starting a small home-based business or where would we need to go to find out the proper procedures. Thanks 

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. First, in determining how to start a home-based business, one should consider the type of businesss, and if there is a need for the product or service that isn't being offered. The business owner needs to then contact the Indiana Dept. of Revenue to obtain a merchants certificate. One should also check to see if there any local, county, or state requirements for licensing or registration. Some small businesses qualify for small business loans through the Small Business Administration. Many times we receive calls from people asking about home-based businesses, but unfortunately, a number of these are not what they seem. I am including a general information report regarding work at home offers and what to look out for. If you have any questions, or if I can be of further assistance, please call me at 473-0202 in the Evansville area, or toll free at (800) 359-0979

"Earn money at home" schemes all have one thing in common. They require you to buy something before you can begin work. If you answer an ad offering you huge profits for some at-home work plan for which there is supposedly a great demand and which will require no experience on your part, you will probably wind up losing money instead of earning it. As an example, you may be asked to purchase instructions, materials, and sometimes even equipment to make items such as aprons, rugs or seat covers. The promoter promises to buy the finished product if the quality is "up to his standards". BBB experience shows that it is doubtful if anything you make will ever be "up to his standards". Once the promoter refuses to buy the items back, your only hope is to sell them yourself. This method makes it highly unlikely that you will make any type of profit.

Always exercise CAUTION if money is requested. Most schemes require a payment in order to obtain information and material needed to start a "work-at-home" business. Remember, you are sending money for an unknown investment.

Educational/General Comments Work At Home (NEW) - Every day, ads for work-at-home jobs appear in newspapers across the country as well as in national magazines and on the Internet. Some of the offers include stuffing envelopes, assembling products, reading books, reviewing movies, medical billing, or selling advertising on the Internet.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:   The Better Business Bureau suggests using extreme caution when responding to any such offer. While ads claim high earnings and short hours with little or no experience, Bureau files nationwide indicate no evidence of anyone making the promised money. Rarely, if ever, are these ads an offer of legitimate employment. Generally, these "jobs" require up-front fees for information or supplies, and only the person who ran the ads makes any money. You should be aware that the United States Postal Inspectors regularly investigate these fraudulent schemes, and that you risk investigation and possible prosecution by postal or other law enforcement agencies if you become involved in one of these schemes. Report as of 06/16/2003 © Copyright 2003 Better Business Bureau

Question:  A friend printed some business cards and described himself as a "Grief Specialist." The person is a chaplain at a hospital and has a master's degree in theology, worked as a minister at a nursing home/retirement facility for several years, and has given two workshops at churches speaking on grief, but never had a formal class on the topic. are there any legal requirements or ramifications for labelling yourself a specialist?

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your question. First I need to state that the Better Business Bureau is not a legal agency, and therefore, we cannot comment on legal requirements. You may want to check with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. Their phone number is (317) 232-2980 or you may visit their web site at www.in.gov/pla about licensing and if there are any certification requirements. If you have other questions, please call our office at 473-0202 or toll free (800) 359-0979 from 9:00 - 4:00 Monday - Friday.

Question:  I will be leasing my next car, can you negotiate prices for leasing the same as when you are buying a car?

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. As with purchasing a vehicle, you would want to shop around for the best price as well as for the features you need. Each dealership is different, but most will do what they can to have you driving one of their vehicles. I am enclosing a web site you can visit with information on things to consider when purchasing a new vehicle. These suggestions can be used in the leasing of a vehicle as well. The web address is: http://www.bbb.org/library/newcar.asp  If you have other questions, please contact us at the Better Business Bureau.

Question:   I have received the following information. I would like to know if it is true. Your Credit: Personal Information goes public Starting July 1st, 2003. The four major credit bureaus in the US (Equilfax, Etc.) will be allowed to release credit info, mailing addresses, phone numbers, etc., to anyone who requests it. If you do not want to be included in this release of your personal information -- you can call1-888-567-8688. once the message starts you will want option #2 (even though optin #1 refers to this info) Select #2 and then option #3. Be sure to to listen closely, the first option is only for a two-year period. Make sure you wait until they prompt for the third option, which opts you out forever. You should receive their paperwork in the mail confirming the "opt out", in less than one week after making the call. Is this for real? If they release this info, next will be Bank account info, Social Security numbers and any info that can be used for fraud. Thanks.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your question. Not all of the email is true. First, the parts that aren't true are: 1. There is no July 1, deadline. July 1, 2001 was the date for persons wishing to opt out to begin calling to have their personal information removed from lists to be made available to telemarketers and direct marketing mailers. 2. Your personal credit information is not and will not be available to everyone who requests it. The parts that are true are: 1. "If you do not want to be included in this release of your >personal information -- you can call1-888-567-8688. once the message starts you will want option #2 (even though optin #1 refers to this info) Select #2 and then option #3. Be sure to listen closely, the first option is only for a two-year period. Make sure you wait until they prompt for the third option, which opts you out forever. You should receive their paperwork in the mail confirming the "opt out", in less than one week after making the call." 2. What the credit reporting agencies do release if you don't opt out is your name, address, and phone number. Usually this is public information anyway and telemarketers and direct mailers can obtain this information from public sources. If you have other questions, you may contact our office at (812) 473-0202 or toll free at (800) 359-0979 from 9:00 - 4:00.

Question:  I heard that I can look up thru ask the expert what the United Way local funding is used for. where do I find this info. I'm looking for the handy man program of evansville/counsil on agin?

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. For information regarding the United Way, you may contact the United Way directly for a copy of their annual report. Their phone number is 422-4100. The handy man program is a project of the Vanderburgh County Council on Aging. The address is 650 S. Governor, Evansville, IN 47713, and the phone number is 464-7813. Should you have any other questions, you may call the Better Business Bureau at 473-0202 or toll free at (800) 359-0979.

Question:  With all the talk about idenity thieft, I have heard that you should check your credit rating quite often. I have many pop-ips and email spams offering to do this, but I am very leary of them. Can you tell me a reliable source from which to do this with little or no cost?

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank for your question. We normally offer the phone number for the credit reporting agencies directly. You may call Transunion at (800) 916-8800. They offer free credit reports, if the consumer has been denied credit within a specified time period. Their web address is www.transunion.com and information is also available on how to obtain a consolidated credit report.

Question:  My car was hit one month ago we waited a week mom didn't hear anything so she called their insurance it had not been turned in so they took a report from mom. we waited and they sent an ajuster out a few day's later we did't hear anything again so mom called they said they were waiting to hear from their insurance party they did but the insurance did't send a police report so mom faxed one to them .now they say they are waiting to get a statement from the driver. the person that hit my car will not call anyone and is just ignoring this matter.we would like to know what legal rights we have and what steps we can take to have my car fixed. we only carry liability at this time because dad was on strike for four yrs . We just want my car fixed and have done more then anyone else in getting all the imformation together.as $3,200 dollars is not easy to come by my car had no prior damage. Thank you.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. I'm sorry for the difficulty you've experienced. The Better Business Bureau gives information regarding companies, charitable organizations, and general information on various industries. The Bureau, however, cannot offer legal advice or opinions. You may need to contact a couple of governmental agencies for advice and assistance. First, you may want to contact the Insurance Commission in your state. If you need numbers, please call our office at (812) 473-0202 or toll free (800) 359-0979 from 9:00 to 4:00 CST. You may also contact the Attorney General in your state. Also, your insurance agent might be able to offer some advice as well.

Question:  I have hear that if you have a parent who needs to go into a nursing home and they transfer the property over to their children. The property will go to pay for the nursing home if it has not been in the children name for two years. I was wondering if a parent transfer property over to their children and the parent dies within 4 months after the transfer does it go into probate of the deceased parent estate, our is it still the childrens.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:   Thank you for your inquiry. The Better Business Bureau provides information on individual companies, charitable organizations, and general information about various industries. The Bureau does not provide legal opinions. Your question regarding property, nursing homes, and probate issues is a legal one. You may want to contact the Attorney General's office. Their toll free number is (800) 382-5516, but you may need to seek the advice of an attorney. If the Better Business Bureau can be of further assistance, please call our office at (812) 473-0202 or toll free outside of the Evansville calling area at (800) 359-0979.

Question:  Last year I received a letter from my credit card company saying since my payment were late they were raising my interest rates or I could cancel my card and make payments til it was paid off. I chose to cancel the card and continued to make payments. Last month I paid off the card. Last week I received a bill and when I called them they said my card had not been canceled. I also found old statements where they had raised my interest rates. Can I make them reimburse me for the interest since I cut up my card and had not intended to keep it?

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. Here are a couple of things you can do. First, contact the Dept. of Financial Institutions in your state. The consumer Credit Division may be able to give you guidelines pertaining to your situation. Second, if you still feel that a complaint needs to be filed, then submit your complaint to the Better Business Bureau where the company is located. If you need numbers, addresses, or web addresses, please email me or phone me. Our office hours are 9:00 to 4:00 CST.

Question:  I have a Check Card like many do these days. I have heard they are not as safe as the credit cards are. I recently had my credit card number stolen and used and I was able to dispute the charges and not pay them. Does this work the same with the debit type chack cards, or are they actually a bad deal.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your question. From information we have received, check cashing cards should be just as safe as your credit card. The check cashing card goes through the process centers as the major credit cards do. For more information about this, you may want to call your financial institution from where you have your card. If you have other questions you may call the Better Business at 473-0202 or toll free at (800) 359-0979 between the hours of 9:00 and 4:00 CST.

Question:  I started working for a company in mid dec, and i worked for them for 3 weeks, and I quit because they never would give me a paycheck. What lawyer u recommend?

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. As a matter of policy, the Better Business Bureau does not endorse any product, service, or company. Let me suggest that you may want to call the Dept. of Labor. Their toll free number is (866) 487-9243. If you are looking for an attorney, then, please call our office at 473-0202 between 9:00and 4:00 CST. If you are outside the Evansville free calling area, then call us toll free at (800) 359-0979.

Question:  My question is , with the high cost of prescription drugs for family's on fixed income, what is wrong going through a Canadian Pharmacy, when we can save 80% to 93% off our medication bills. I have the proof of this as I have been doing it for some time now.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. The subject of purchasing foreign drugs is a difficult one. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulates pharmaceuticals. The Bureau has been researching this topic and the best source for information on this topic is John Finley with the Office of Compliance with FDA. The toll free number for the FDA is (888) 436-6332. For more information on related topics, you may contact the Bureau at (812) 473-0202 or toll free, (800) 359-0979, Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 4:00 CST.

Question:  I have 2 questions, 1. Where do I get information to help me fix a problem on our credit report. There are things reported there that are not ours and we have been trying for almost 2 months to fix it through the credit bureau who had run it but with no results. 2. Are places like Consolidate Credit Services really non-profit and a safe avenue to take if your trying to repair credit.

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  Thank you for your inquiry. Here are some phone numbers you can call regarding your credit report. Trans Union 1-800-916-8800 for a free copy of credit report. To report ID theft or other types of credit fraud 1-800-680-7289 Equifax/Experian 1-800-685-1111 If you are interested in information on specific companies, please call the Better Business Bureau at (812) 473-0202 or toll free at (800) 359-0979 between the hours of 9:00 and 4:00 CST. Information can also be obtained from our web site at www.evansville.bbb.org .

Question:  I have found a work at home company I would like to research and find more informatin about. what is the best way to go about that?

Answer from the Better Business Bureau:  The best way to find out information about individual companies is to visit our web site at www.evansville.bbb.org . Our web site specifically gives information about members and non-members in the Tri-State. For information about companies outside the Tri-State, click on the following two links: "National BBB Services", then the link "Check out a company". You can always call our office between 9:00 and 4:00 Monday - Friday at (812) 473-0202 or toll free at (800) 359-0979.

Work-At-Home Opportunities

Question:  I would like to work-at-home and often see listings for stuffing envelopes, clipping coupons or assembling merchandise. Can you give me a list of reputable work-at-home companies?

Answer from The Better Business Bureau:  No! The Bureau constantly issues alerts about work-at-home companies – those firms that run tempting ads promising high pay for easy work done in the comfort of your own home. Despite these warnings, consumers continue to lose money to these fraudulent operations. Almost every one of these supposed "companies" require you to send a starting fee, sometimes for materials, information, etc. What you get in return (if anything), is useless information, or material. No profits are ever realized and the consumer is seldom able to receive a refund. Be wary of any ad that requires you to send money in order to do work. YOU should be the one receiving money for employment, not vice versa!

Advance Fee Loans

Question:  I need a loan and haven’t been able to obtain one locally. Recently, I saw an ad that offers a loan no matter how bad your credit is. They do ask for me to send $265.00 for a "processing fee" before they can give me any information. Should I send the money now?

Answer from The Better Business Bureau:  No! The Better Business Bureau has been warning for several years against these "Advance Fee" Loan companies. Many of them are operating out of Canada and are the subject of numerous federal investigations. Consumers who send money to unknown companies in hopes of getting a loan are usually left with little hope of getting in touch with the company for a refund, once they realize that the loan is not winging its way back to them as promised. You must realize, that if you cannot get a loan locally, why would an out-of-state (or country), loan broker be more apt to get you the needed funds? Anyone who is offered a loan and who is asked to send an advance fee should first telephone Project Phonebusters and report the loan company. Project Phonebusters is an Ontario Based Provincial Police operation that works closely with other police forces in Canada, the FBI and the FTC in the US. They are trying to collect data on Canadian based advance fee loan brokers along with other telemarketing fraud operations to help in closing those operations down and convicting the principals. Their toll-free number is 1-888-495-8501.

Three Day Cancellation Policy

Question:  Don’t I always have the right to cancel or return any purchase within three days?

Answer from The Better Business Bureau: No! Contrary to popular belief, the three-day Cooling-off Rule (Right to cancel) applies to only a limited number of cash or credit transactions of $25 or more. The Rule applies to door-to-door sales or other places OTHER than at the company’s regular place of business. Purchases of automobiles and other vehicles are not usually covered.

Prize Notifications

Question:  I received an "Award Notification" in the mail. Doesn’t this guarantee that I will win the prize offered?

Answer from The Better Business Bureau:  No! Phony prize or sweepstakes promotions cost consumers millions of dollars each year. If the prize promoter demands that you pay up-front to cover entry or judging fees, as a donation, to pre-pay taxes, or via a call to a 900 number, do not respond! Call the Better Business Bureau.

Nigerian Letter/Fax/Email Scams

Question:  I received a letter from an important government official in Nigeria. He said that if I would provide my bank account number, he would transfer millions of dollars into my account, and for helping him to "save" his funds from the government trying to persecute him, I will receive 30% of the money. This sounds like a great deal. Should I do it?

Answer from The Better Business Bureau:  No! The BBB advises persons who receive these pleas, via letter, fax or e-mail, not to provide ANY personal or banking information to these con artists. The best thing to do is not to respond at all. This "scam" has been around for year and billions of dollars have been "bilked" out of the US. The BBB urges anyone receiving such letters from Nigeria, or any other country, not to respond. Instead, send the letter to the BBB so that we can forward it to the appropriate authorities. Or you may forward it yourself to: U.S. Secret Service, Financial Crimes Division, 1800 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20223.

To remove your Name from Telemarketers, Mailing Lists and e-mail lists

Question:  I receive a lot of junk mail, annoying telemarketing calls and unsolicited e-mails. Is there anything that I can do to get my name off of their lists?

Answer form The Better Business Bureau:  Yes! To remove your name from Telemarketers lists, write to: Telephone Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9014, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9014. To remove your name from national mailing lists, write to: Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008. To stop receiving unsolicited e-mails, sign up with the Direct Marketing Association E-Mail Preference Service at www.e-mps.org .

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