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Memphis Daily News
How the BBB Fights Scams & Fosters Trust
March 24, 2016
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

It all starts with trust. But whom do you trust? That’s what Samuel Dobbs , an executive with The Coca-Cola Co. in the early 1900s wanted to know as he sat in a courtroom listening to an attorney defend a claim of false advertising.

“That’s just advertising,” the attorney argued. “Everyone knows you can’t believe that.”
Dobbs didn’t agree. He wanted everyone to believe what his company, and all companies, say about their products. He wanted consumers to have trust, and truth in advertising.

In 1911, Dobbs was involved in the adoption of the “Ten Commandments of Advertising,” developed by advertising firms and individual businesses, and he is credited with beginning the “truth-in-advertising” campaign that led to the creation of the Better Business Bureau in 1912.

The BBB, now with more than 112 local offices in North America and research on more than 5 million businesses nationwide, is a nonprofit whose vision is to ensure an “ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust each other.”

“Our mission,” said Nancy Crawford , marketing and communications director for the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South, “is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. People today are overwhelmed by choices and often unsure about where to find verified and unbiased information. We do that for them.”

Along with providing free factual information about businesses, including online companies, the BBB handles consumers’ complaints and serves as an intermediary between consumers and businesses, handling nationally nearly 1 million cases a year. The BBB’s website ( ) ranks among the top 1,000 most-visited websites in the United States.

As the marketplace changes the services offered by the BBB increase. “Anything that makes our life easier, like technology, also makes us vulnerable to scams and crooks,” states Crawford.

Top scams include tax scams that accuse you of owing money to the government, debt collection, tech support, lottery, credit cards and work-from-home scams. And opening scam e-mails can make your personal information and finances vulnerable or hold your computer hostage until you provide a pre-paid card number to the “tech-napper.”

To combat scams, the BBB launched Scam Tracker, an online interactive tool that collects and tracks scams and fraudulent activities, making the information available free to consumers by locations, trends and types of unethical behavior. You can search your neighborhood or the country, and all data is made available to appropriate authorities to help stop flagrant scammers through legal means.

The BBB believes that knowledge is power, and its Education Foundation provides services to the public through its major programs: Consumer Education, National Charity Review, Identity Theft Education and Prevention, and Find a Trustworthy Business.
For information on these free programs call 800-222-8754.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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