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Better Business Bureau ®
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28 counties covering Western Pennsylvania
BBB Hot Topics - May 2013
June 06, 2013

Pittsburgh, PA – June 6, 2013 – The Better Business Bureau of Western PA’s Hot Topics is a monthly alert regarding companies across all industries that are currently targeting Western Pennsylvania consumers. The Hot Topics list and information is also available on the BBB website under the News Center.

According to Warren King, President of the Better Business Bureau, “The BBB’s goal in creating Hot Topics is to help educate and protect the marketplace from businesses targeting local consumers.”

The following report is based on your BBB’s research as of June 6, 2013 and includes information received at our office on companies marketing to local Pennsylvanians. Click on the company name for an updated BBB report. Please take into consideration the importance of the practice and total performance of the company. To access over four million companies nationwide, visit www.bbb.org.

  1. Hawkins Law Firm – Collection agency

BBB has been receiving information from consumers that Hawkins Law Firm is contacting them, using an Aliquippa, PA phone number, insisting they have payday loan debts that must be paid. Consumers allege the company uses threatening language and harassing tactics as collection methods. Some consumers report that they do not have an outstanding debt. Other consumers pay and later realize their money has been pocketed once they verify with their original lender that they do not have an outstanding debt. In May 2013, BBB verified that this company is not registered with the PA Department of State as required by PA law. The company also has no known address. View BBB’s information on collection agency payday loan scams.

  1. Hydra Financial – Payday loan company

In the last three years, BBB has closed 377 complaints in addition to 51 local complaints against Hydra Financial, which has failed to resolve the underlying cause of a pattern of complaints. Complainants allege unauthorized withdrawal of funds from bank accounts and/or unauthorized deposits. The deposits are an attempt to enter the consumer into a loan contract. Consumers have reported difficulty contacting company representatives to address their complaints. Consumers have also reported that if they are able to contact a company representative, their complaints are not addressed and they are unable to obtain refunds or other satisfactory remedies. Follow BBB’s tips to avoid abusive lending through payday loans.

  1. International Interactive Group Inc. – Travel packages

An F rated company based out of Florida, International Interactive Group Inc. has received 12 out of 16 complaints through BBB in the last year. Complainants allege difficulty contacting the company for assistance or support via phone and written request after purchasing a vacation package. In addition, consumers report issues obtaining promised refunds, exchanges or credits. International Interactive Group Inc. has failed to respond to one complaint and has two complaints that are unresolved. Visit www.bbb.org for BBB tips on purchasing vacation offers and packages.

  1. Mugshots.com – Mug shot search engine

Since January 2013, Mugshots.com has received 79 complaints from consumers alleging the company will not remove a mug shot from their database unless an “unpublishing” fee of $399 is paid. In some complaints, the consumer states the legal charges listed with the mug shots were either dropped or expunged, but the company still requires the $399 fee. In March 2013, BBB sent certified correspondence to Mugshots.com requesting voluntary cooperation in resolving complaints on file with BBB and steps it will implement to eliminate the pattern of consumer complaints. To date, BBB has not received a response from the company.

  1. Quick Track-Direct Marketing Co. – Secret shopper

In May 2013, BBB received a complaint that Quick Track-Direct Marketing Co. is offering employment as a secret shopper, using a Pittsburgh, PA mail drop. The consumer alleged to have responded to solicitations and was asked to deposit checks and forward a portion of the money to a third party. After depositing the checks and forwarding the money, the consumer was informed by the bank that the checks were fraudulent and was liable for the return of the money, losing hundreds of dollars. Mystery or secret shopper schemes target individuals who are having difficulty finding viable employment. BBB recommends that job seekers always do thorough research on any company who is offering them employment, before accepting a position.

  1. Rossi and Lombardi – Collection agency

Based out of New York, Rossi and Lombardi has received 98 out of 99 BBB complaints in the last 12 months. Of these complaints, 56 are serious in nature, 5 were not resolved and the company failed to respond to two complaints. Some complainants allege receiving harassing and threatening phone calls from the company stating that there will be a warrant for arrest if they are not home to be served court papers. When asked for additional information, the company allegedly does not state what or who the collection is for in some instances. Other complainants have alleged that the company made unauthorized collections from their bank accounts. Follow the link for BBB information regarding debt collection.

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BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free Business and Charity Reviews and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB offers dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 115 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Visit www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.