Better Business Bureau of Minnesota " Tips for Consumers

The Better Business Bureau is always looking to help educate consumers in the latest scams and illegal activities. In line with this mission, the BBB offers a quiz for consumers to learn how to improve their identity safety.

The Better Business Bureau is always looking to help educate consumers in the latest scams and illegal activities. In line with this mission, the BBB offers a quiz for consumers to learn how to improve their identity safety.

Most everyone has heard of identity theft. How many consumers, however, can pinpoint the exact areas where they are at risk from having their identity stolen? Equally important, how many small business owners have considered how their business is vulnerable to having its financial information compromised?

Now there is a convenient way to find out. Go to and click on the ID Safety Quiz icon. The quiz was developed based on findings from the 2006 Identity Fraud Survey Report, recently released by the BBB and Javelin Strategy & Research.

By taking the quiz, people can assess their identity safety from two perspectives. First, are the steps I am currently taking to prevent identity theft sufficient? Secondly, how can I protect myself from having personal financial information stolen?

Small business owners are advised to take the quiz twice. The first time, respond to the questions as they pertain to your actions. The second time, consider the questions from the perspective of the practices that are followed at your business.


The quiz is a quick one. Once completed, the quiz-taker receives a score based on the survey results and generally accepted best practices. Scores range from a zero, which would be a perfect score, to 100, the worst score. The typical score for the quiz is 38.

To read about the 2006 Identity Fraud Survey Report findings, go to . Additional information is available in the Consumer and Business Tips section of .

What are Fair Debt

Collection Practices?

Debt collectors face unique challenges that can tempt some in the business to engage in illegal behavior. If you believe that a debt collector is hounding or threatening you, it may be time to review your legal rights.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires that debt collectors treat those who have failed to repay their creditors in a fair manner. It prohibits abusive debt collection practices. For a complete listing of your rights as a debtor, visit the Federal Trade Commission Web site at .

The following debt collection practices are among those that are prohibited.

Debt collectors may NOT:


$ Harass, oppress or abuse you or any third parties they contact.

$ Use threats of harm.

$ Publish a list of consumers who refuse to pay their debts.

$ Use obscene language.

$ Repeatedly use the telephone to annoy someone.

$ Take or threaten to take your property unless this can be done legally.

They are also restricted in the statements they can make to debtors. Debt collectors may NOT tell you that:

$ You will be arrested if you do not pay your debt.


$ They will seize, garnish, attach or sell our property or wages, unless the collection agency or creditor intends to do so and it is legal to do so.

$ They will take actions, such as a lawsuit, against you, when such action legally may not be taken, or when they do not intend to do so.

Finally, debt collectors may NOT:

$ Give false credit information about you to anyone.

$ Send you anything that looks like an official document from a court or government agency when it is not.

$ Use a false name.

Report any problems you have with a debt collector to your state Attorney Generals office. You may also want to file a complaint with your Better Business Bureau.

Mystery Shopping


The Better Business Bureau has noticed an increase in calls from the public inquiring about mystery shopping. Since mystery shopping has been around for many years, we wondered why the sudden interest. We rooted around on the Internet and asked our callers some questions and found some interesting information.

First of all, mystery shopping is a legitimate tool that allows businesses to evaluate their customers experiences and improve upon the products and services they offer. Businesses may ask a mystery shopper to purchase a specific product, order a drink in a restaurant lounge, or evaluate how quickly and easily a product can be returned. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous individuals who are preying on those looking for extra income by claiming they can produce mystery shopping jobs for a fee. Although, in a few cases, this may be true, it is absolutely unnecessary.

Look for reputable firms that:

$ Qualify and train mystery shoppers to perform specific evaluations

$ Enjoy a good reputation with their clients and shoppers

$ Do not charge a fee to complete an application

To steer clear of get-rich-quick offers, the BBB advises mystery shopper applicants to:

$ Ignore claims that you will make big profits easily. Mystery shopping will not make you rich; at best it provides part-time income


$ Avoid falling for claims that guarantee a position, without training

$ Be cautious of unsolicited e-mails offering work-from-home opportunities

$ Never pay money up-front. A legitimate mystery shopping service will not charge money for materials, training or recruiting

$ Obtain the name of the company and check the business out with the BBB or local consumer protection agency. $$$

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