Beware of Scammers Using BBB’s Name

April 18, 2017

– If you've received a phone call from your BBB recently, be careful. Several consumers have reported receiving calls from scammers who claim to be from or affiliated with “the Better Business Bureau” and they’re trying to steal money or personal information.

On March 13, a consumer in Hayward reported to BBB Scam Tracker that they received a call from someone who “stressed that they were ‘from the Better Business Bureau’ and that [the consumer] had won $850,000 through Publisher’s Clearing House … There was a processing fee … 400 and some odd dollars.” Luckily the consumer recognized it was scam.

This scam is a variation of an imposter scam. In 2016, imposter scams were the second most common category of consumer complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to the FTC, in an imposter scam, “a scammer pretends to be someone trustworthy… to convince the consumer to send money.”

A consumer in Vacaville said they received a call from a person claiming to be from “PC Tech,” saying that BBB ordered the company to repay money they had previously scammed from people. To do this, PC Tech needed remote access to the consumer’s computer to get signed authorization and directly deposit money into their bank account. The consumer had previously given remote access to their computer to a scammer and knew better than to comply.

If you get a call from someone using BBB’s name you may be tempted to trust the caller. But it should be a red flag if the caller claims you won a prize or owe money, or if they’re trying to gain access to your personal data. BBB will never actively solicit this information. Here’s some advice to avoid scams like these:

  • You won’t have to pay to receive a prize. If you’re told you’ve won a prize but first have to pay for processing fees or taxes, it’s probably a scam. Last year consumers reported around 2,400 of these scams to BBB Scam Tracker. BBB will never call you out of the blue claiming you won a prize.
  • Never give a cold caller remote access to your computer. Consumers reported nearly 8,000 tech support scams to BBB Scam Tracker last year. You get a call or see a pop-up from the tech support department of a generic-sounding or well-known software company. The scammer alerts you to a problem and accesses your computer remotely, then demands money to fix the problem or installs malware on your computer. Never give remote access to your computer unless it’s to a representative of a trustworthy computer support team that you contacted directly. Learn more about tech support scams.
  • Stay in the know. Stay on top of current scams through BBB Scam Tracker, an online, crowd-sourced tool that shows you a heat map of scams happening across North America. There you can find descriptions of individual scam reports. You can search by keyword, scam type or zip code. No one is immune to the risks posed by scams, so it’s best to be proactive and protect yourself. 


If you ever receive an unsolicited call from “BBB” or from a company claiming to be affiliated with the BBB, make sure it’s legitimate. Call or text BBB at 408-278-7400 or 213-631-3600, or email And if you’ve been contacted by a scammer impersonating BBB report it to BBB Scam Tracker to help warn others.