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How to identify an illegitimate company

How to identify an illegitimate company

If you are solicited by letter, phone, or email with something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are certain tip-offs that signify whether what you're presented with is fraudulent, in which case the best response is not to respond at all, or to contact the FTC, your state Attorney General, and/or your local post office with any questionable correspondence. Listed below are some things to take into consideration when evaluating whether a letter or offer are legitimate or not:

* The company has no phone number listed.
* The company has no website and cannot be located via an online search.
* The letter or email advises you that you won a prize, the lottery, or were chosen to receive "left-over" or "available" funds, but you haven't entered any competitions, sweepstakes, or lotteries.
* The letter or email asks for your bank account information, credit card numbers, social security number or passport number, driver's license, and/or other personal information.
* The letter or email asks you to send a check or money order as advance payment for "processing" or "acquisition" fees, or for "taxes", "shipping and handling", etc.
* The letter is addressed with your name, but has been sent through bulk mail. This essentially means many other people have received the same exact correspondence.
* The letter, phone call, or email asks you to "verify" information such as credit card or account numbers, making you believe that if the company already has your information, they are credible or you might have already done business with them.
* The letter, phone call, or email offers some sort of prize or prizes, usually advertised as "complimentary", "free", or "exclusive", which you will receive upon sending in your payment.
* The letter or email states that the offer is time-sensitive and if not replied to "you may be ineligible"- there is an overall sense of urgency to pay immediately or the opportunity "will pass you by".
* The company states that special "documentation" is available pertaining to eligibility or availability of entry, but it is either not included or will be sent out after payment is made. It must be stated, however, that sometimes a fraudulent company will falsify documents to make them look legitimate and/or official. Caution must be taken.
* The correspondence asks you to send a blank check or your own company's letter head, if applicable.
* To receive your "prize" or funds you are asked to travel overseas.

If any of the above corresponds with an offer that you're considering, be it in form of a letter, email, or phone solicitation, you are advised to exercise caution and/or contact the appropriate authorities.

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BBB Business Reviews are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information in this BBB Business Review is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy.

BBB Business Reviews generally cover a three-year reporting period. BBB Business Reviews are subject to change at any time.

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BBB Reporting Policy

As a matter of policy, BBB does not endorse any product, service or business.

BBB Business Reviews are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information in this BBB Business Review is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy.

BBB Business Reviews generally cover a three-year reporting period. BBB Business Reviews are subject to change at any time.