Better Business Bureau Impersonator: Phone Scam Overview

Watch out for BBB scamsThe Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a highly respected nonprofit organization that's committed to improving consumer's trust in businesses. The BBB has over four million free business reviews that consumers can consult, and it's website ranks as one of the most visited web pages in the United States.

Since it is such a reputable resource for unbiased ratings of businesses, many will not second guess trusting a call from the organization. However, this is not the case since phone scammers using caller ID spoofing will impersonate BBB employees in order to convince unwitting victims to divulge sensitive personal information.

The Initial Contact

There are different variations of the BBB impersonator phone scam, but the set up is roughly the same for both. The scammer will make fist contact via email or a phone call and they will say that they are from the Better Business Bureau. The two variations of this scam depend on whether or not the scammer is targeting an individual or a business.

Individual Target

The caller will inform the victim that they are calling from the BBB on behalf of Publisher's Clearing House, they state that you or a family member has won some money, and that the check that they sent still hasn't been cashed. This is to make you think that the check has been lost in some way in the mail. The caller will then request personal information to confirm your identity.

They may ask for a bank account so that they can deposit the money directly to you, or they may say that there is a fee to cancel and reissue a check that's been lost in the mail and request payment in the form of a wire transfer or by credit card. This particular scam is similar to the Jamaican lottery scam. The scammers tend to target the elderly and calls from BBB impersonators have been traced back to Jamaica.

Business Target

When targeting businesses, scammers often start with an email rather than a call. This scam is specifically targeted at businesses that have a BBB review already or who would like to have one created. The email that is sent will contain links to a website where you can create or update the information on your business's BBB account.

The link will be for a site that is designed to do nothing other than taking your personal information. The website will have a URL that is very similar to the actual BBB website.

Instead of phishing via email some scammers will directly call the business they are looking to steal from. The business will receive a call from a person claiming to be a BBB representative. The caller will have a bit of information about your business and will sound knowledgeable and request that the business pay a fee in order to become an accredited BBB business.

Steer Clear of This Scam

If you are an individual and you receive a call from the BBB claiming that you have won money, just ignore it. Whenever you receive an unsolicited call telling you that you've won a large amount of money, be wary. Look up the number that called you with CallerSmart's reverse phone lookup to check for any sort of suspicious behavior associated with the number. Never share any sensitive payment information with someone you don't know over the phone.

If you are a business owner become more familiar with the Better Business Bureau and their practices. Occasionally, the BBB will reach out to business owners to ensure they are aware of features they offer and what is on their account, they will never ask for personal information over the phone though. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the BBB, inform them that you're busy and call back later. After hanging up, call the BBB directly.

Do know that there is a fee to become an accredited BBB business, but this is very easy to pay online from the official BBB website

If you've received an email look closely at it for grammar mistakes or links that are not from the official website. Whenever you're in doubt and before you enter any personal information contact the BBB directly.

Reporting the Scammers

If you've been targeted by a BBB scammer, report it immediately to your local Better Business Bureau and the FTC. In addition, help warn others by downloading our iPhone caller ID app.

If you don't have an iPhone, then first run a reverse phone lookup on the scammer's number here on our website, and then report it so other visitors know to avoid this number.