Checking the Reliability or Reputation of a Business

How do you know whether the company you are considering doing business with is reliable and trustworthy?  Its sales presentation may be convincing, but you don’t want to throw away your money or be taken in by a scheme.  If you have doubts, check before you write that check!

Before you invest or donate to a cause, do your homework.  You can reach the Better Business Bureau (BBB) online or by phone to do a reputation check.  The main web site will direct you to the various regional headquarters.  The phone number for the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Atlanta, for example, is 404-766-0875.

The Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. is comprised of many independent local offices, the best place to inquire about a company operating in a given area.  All you need is the city, state or zip code where the company is located to find the local listing.

The BBB maintains a database of more than two million businesses and charities and publishes reliability reports summarizing the experiences of other customers.  Complaints from consumers all over the United States and Canada form the basis of their records.  The BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance is an affiliated organization whose database is continually updated with information on charitable groups and others who solicit your contributions.

Inquiries to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) about a business’ standing are routinely and more appropriately referred to the BBB.  By law and for reasons of confidentiality, OCP could not acknowledge an open investigation of a company.

Even a reputation check with the BBB, however, is not foolproof.  If they have no record of complaints about a business, just keep in mind that the company whose name you are looking for may have moved or changed names—or may simply not have been in business long enough yet for complaints to have been registered against it.

Tips for consumers from the BBB