Horizon High School & Mountain Ridge High School Students Receive BBB Ethical Athlete Scholarship


(Lake Havasu City, AZ – April 24, 2017) In partnership with the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA), Better Business Bureau serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona (BBB) awards Horizon High School’s June Obata and Mountain Ridge High School’s Saikou Gueye BBB Ethical Athlete scholarship, presented by Isagenix.

In its second year, the BBB Ethical Athlete Scholarship recognizes deserving student athletes across the state for doing the right thing on and off the playing field. Nominated by coaches, teammates, and fans, two student athletes (a male and a female) are selected each month to receive a $1,000 scholarship. At the end of the school year, BBB selects two Ethical Champions to receive an additional $2,500 scholarship.

June Obata is a senior softball player at Horizon High School. She was recognized as a BBB Ethical Athlete April 12, 2017, at BBB’s Torch Awards for Ethics accompanied by Isagenix’s VP of Corporate Affairs Cheryl Lewis and BBB’s President/CEO Matthew Fehling.

“Last year, June endured a personally crushing experience, but now makes herself available to teammates dealing with difficult situations,” said her teacher Dr. Yvonne Perot. “She is known for her unwavering integrity, positive attitude and genuine caring spirit.”

Saikou is a senior basketball player at Mountain Ridge High School. He was recognized as a BBB Ethical Athlete April 19, 2017, joined by Principal Shona Miranda and Athletic Director Junior Michael.

“Saikou was the target of racists taunts during a game and finding himself in a situation no student athlete should endure, he responded by taking the high road, continuing to play and winning the game,” shared his teacher Debbie Moore in her nomination.

BBB has recognized the following students as BBB Ethical Athletes during the 2016-2017 school year:

  • Zachary Patterson from Mohave High School

  • Jacob Adams from Sahuaro High School

  • Whitney Weaver from Mountain View High School

  • Sarah Jane Schott from Prescott High School

  • Charles Walker from Desert Edge High School

  • Bailee Liska from Lake Havasu High School

BBB and AIA review public nominations every month and select ethical athletes to be honored throughout the year. Nominate Arizona high school athletes for the BBB Ethical Athlete Scholarship, presented by Isagenix at athlete.arizonabbb.org.  

ATHLETE.ARIZONABBB.ORG

For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, please contact Elaine Cullen at 928-302-3701 or ecullen@arizonabbb.org.

 

BBB Warning: IRS May Call You After All


BBB Warning: IRS May Call You After All

Some Taxpayer Debts Assigned to Private Collection Agencies

(Lake Havasu City, AZ – April 20, 2017) The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has changed the way it deals with overdue taxes, and that means third party collection agencies may now call.

Like the IRS, Better Business Bureau (BBB) is concerned this change might lead to scammers trying new ways to trick people. Here is what you need to know about the program that started in April 2017.

A federal law signed in 2015 allows four contractors to collect unpaid tax debts for the government. According to the IRS, these are unpaid tax debts that were assessed several years ago and which the agency is no longer trying to collect directly.

The four companies contracted by the IRS are BBB Accredited Businesses:

The C B E Group, Inc.

1309 Technology Pkwy

Cedar Falls, IA 50613

ConServe

200 CrossKeys Office park

Fairport, NY 14450

Performant

333 N Canyons Pkwy

Livermore, CA 94551

Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc.

325 Daniel Zenker Dr

Horseheads, NY 14845

There are many ways to tell whether a call about tax debt is legitimate. According to the IRS, people with overdue taxes will receive multiple notifications, including letters and phone calls, from the IRS first. The IRS will also notify taxpayers before sending accounts to a private collection agency.

Here’s how it will work and how you can tell the difference between a legitimate debt collector and a scammer:

  • The IRS and the private debt collection company will both send a letter to the taxpayer first. If you get a call first and had no idea you owed taxes, be cautious. NOTE: Taxpayers who have recently moved may have missed notification letters, which can lead to confusion if their first contact is from the collection agency. Taxpayers can use Form 8822 to update the IRS with a new address at www.irs.gov/uac/form-8822-change-of-address.
  • Private debt collectors will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. These employees must comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and, like IRS employees, must be courteous and respect taxpayers’ rights. If the caller yells, curses, or threatens arrest, it is not a legitimate collector. Hang up.
  • Private debt collectors will not ask for, and cannot accept, credit card information over the phone. Consumers will pay the IRS directly and will not need to send any money to the private debt collection company. Learn about payment options at www.irs.gov/payments. You can also see your balance and payment history online. If the caller asks you to pay them directly, and especially if they ask for an unusual form of payment, such as wire transfer or gift card, it’s a scam. Hang up!
  • Taxpayers can ask for their account to be transferred from the private debt collection back to the IRS.

The IRS adds that private collection firms will only be calling about longstanding tax debts notified about previously. Taxpayers can check whether they have unpaid tax debt atwww.irs.gov/balancedue.

BBB reminds consumers, particularly those who have outstanding tax debts, that the IRS will explain the new process clearly and will make every attempt to work with them to set up payment plans. The IRS will also give taxpayers the chance to question or appeal the amount owed.

For more information and updates, visit www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/private-debt-collection.

Five Companies Win 2017 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics


Five Companies Win 2017 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics

BBB Luminary Award Recognizes Retired CEO Susan Frank

(Lake Havasu City, AZ – April 13, 2017) Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Arizona (BBB) awarded five companies with a 2017 BBB Torch Awards for Ethics last night during its 16th annual dinner sponsored by Desert Schools Federal Credit Union. BBB also presented its Luminary Award to one of the first women in the country to lead a credit union with one billion in assets.

The BBB Torch Awards for Ethics recognize firms whose business practices and related activities exemplify BBB’s mission and principles to ensure the marketplace remains fair and honorable.

2017 Winners Revealed

1.     Loud Rumor – a marketing company for fitness studios and gyms located in Scottsdale with a mission to help 100,000 people start a healthy lifestyle.  Loud Rumor is the category one winner with 1-10 employees.

More: loudrumor.com

2.     Champs Family Automotive – a neighborhood automotive and diesel specialist in Goodyear that strives to bring customers the very best every time.  Champs Family Automotive is the category two winner with 11-20 employees.  

More: champsfamilyautomotive.com

3.     Lucid Agency – a digital marketing agency in Tempe that solves complex business problems through the use of technology and interactive marketing strategy. Lucid Agency is the category three winner with 21-50 employees.

More: lucidagency.com

4.     Howard Air – a family owned and operated heating and air conditioning business in Phoenix that stays on the cutting edge of technology.  Howard Air is the category four winner with 51-150 employees.

More: howardair.com

5.     WebPT – a Phoenix based, leading rehab therapy platform for enhancing patient care while fueling business growth. WebPT is a category five winner with over 150 employees.

More: webpt.com

“These winners join a community of trustworthy businesses that understand how important trust, transparency and integrity are to business success,” said Matthew Fehling, BBB President/CEO.

BBB also honored these 10 finalists for their dedication to ethical practices:

1.     Larson Air Conditioning (Scottsdale)

2.     Southwest Services Company (Phoenix)

3.     Benefit Logic, Inc. (Flagstaff)

4.     Spa Lamar (Scottsdale)

5.     Arizona Foundation Solutions, LLC (Phoenix)

6.     Two Men And A Truck (Scottsdale)

7.     Arrowhead Honda (Peoria)

8.     Dircks Moving & Logistics (Phoenix)

9.     American Vision Windows (Mesa)

10.  George Brazil Air Conditioning & Heating (Phoenix)

Additionally, BBB honored its 2017 Luminary Award recipient Susan Frank who is a former BBB board director and recently retired as CEO of Desert Schools Federal Credit Union. The award honors an Arizona leader for positively impacting the community while embodying the spirit of BBB.

Another highlight of the night included an inspiring keynote address from Anthony Robles, 2011 NCAA Champion and author of Unstoppable: From Underdog to Undefeated: How I Became a Champion. Robles’ incredible story of perseverance and determination as a one-legged wrestler highlighted how qualities key in athletics also play an important role in business.

Desert Schools Federal Credit Union served as presenting sponsor for the first year and surprised attendees with a Prosperity Bowl centerpiece created by local artist Trisha Burrough. Radio and television personality Pat McMahon, along with media personality Catherine Anaya, served as masters of ceremonies.

For more information on the winners and finalists of the 16th annual BBB Torch Awards for Ethics, visit torchawards.arizonabbb.org.

-TORCHAWARDS.ARIZONABBB.ORG-

BBB Offers Digital Spring Cleaning Tips to Protect Your Personal Data and Identity All Year Round


BBB Offers Digital Spring Cleaning Tips to Protect Your Personal Data and Identity All Year Round

(Lake Havasu City, AZ – April 11, 2017) The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) are encouraging consumers to get their online lives in order by conducting a thorough cleanse of their cyber clutter and making “digital spring cleaning” an annual ritual to help protect valuable personal data. A NCSA survey found that preventing identity theft is a top safety concern for Americans, and there are several easy steps everyone can take that will go a long way in tidying up digital disorder.

“Chances are that over the years you’ve accumulated lots of digital clutter that can impact your cybersecurity posture. It’s critical to remember that just as you shred sensitive paper documents before discarding, you should properly destroy important electronic data,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “By following a few easy-to-use digital spring cleaning tips, you can be significantly safer and more secure online. In addition, you will have a renewed peace of mind that you are helping to protect yourself, your family and the community at large. NCSA and BBB want everyone to enjoy the internet’s extraordinary benefits with increased confidence.”

“Just as we urge people to safely shred old paper records, BBB is also urging consumers and businesses to make sure that electronic files are properly disposed of when no longer needed,” said Bill Fanelli, chief information officer with the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Old hard drives, data sticks, cell phones, tablets…anything that contains sensitive data should be securely destroyed. Digital spring cleaning also means deleting old files, updating passwords and taking other steps to make sure your private information stays private.”   

BBB and the NCSA urge consumers to follow this four-week outline and clean up their online life with an easy-to-follow timeline and plan (click here for a downloadable PDF of the checklist):

Week 1: Keep Machines Clean

As a very basic first step, make sure all web-connected devices ‒ including personal computers (PCs), mobile phones, smartphones and tablets ‒ are free from malware and infections.

·         Keep all critical software current: Having all software current is one of the best security measures to take. This includes security software, web browsers, document readers, operating systems and any other software regularly used.

·         Clean up your mobile life: Most of us have apps we no longer use as well as ones that need updating. Delete unused apps and keep others current, including the operating system on your mobile device. An added benefit of deleting unused apps is more storage space and longer battery life. Actively manage location services, Bluetooth, microphone and camera – making sure apps use them appropriately.

Week 2: Make Sure You’re Secure

Building on Week 1, users can enhance the security of their online accounts – a fast and simple way to be safer online. There are quick and easy things you can do that have long-term safety and security benefits.

·         Get two steps ahead: Turn on two-step authentication ‒ also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication ‒ on accounts where available. Many of the internet’s most popular email services, social networks and financial institutions offer this key security step free of charge, but you must opt in to turn it on. Visit stopthinkconnect.org/2stepsahead to learn more and view a list of the websites that offer two-step authentication.

·         Secure your router: Make sure your router has a strong password and does not broadcast who you are through its name, such as “the Jones Family” or “123 Elm Street.” Update router software as well.

·         Create better passwords: If your passwords are too short or easy to guess, it’s like leaving the front door to your home unlocked. Longer passwords and those that combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols provide better protection.

·         Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords ‒ at least for key accounts like email, banking, and social networking ‒ helps to thwart cybercriminals.

·         Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place.

·         Secure your phone: Use a passcode or a finger swipe to unlock your phone.

Week 3: Digital File Purge and Protection

Tend to your digital records, PCs, phones and any device with storage just as you would paper files.

·         Clean up your email: Save only emails you really need. Your inbox is likely stuffed with lots of outdated materials. Delete or archive what you don’t need and be sure to empty your deleted mail folders.

·         File upkeep: Delete or archive older files such as numerous drafts of the same document and outdated financial statements.

·         Manage subscriptions: Unsubscribe to newsletters, email alerts and updates you no longer read.

·         Dispose of electronics securely: Wiping data isn’t enough. When you dispose of old electronics, look for facilities that shred hard drives, disks and memory cards.

·         Update your online photo album: Back up photos you want to keep and delete old or less flattering pictures of yourself and your family and friends. In addition to not showing your best side, they take up space.

·         Update your online relationships: Review friends on social networks and contacts on phones and PCs to make sure everyone on those lists still belong.

·         Back it up: Copy important data to a secure cloud site or to another drive where it can be safely stored. Password protect backup drives and keep them in a different location off the network for maximum security. Commit to doing backups on a regular basis.

·         Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices: Make sure to permanently delete old files.

Week 4: Clean Up Your Online Reputation

Parents and older kids with social media accounts can take an active role in making sure their online reputation is squeaky clean.

·         Own your online presence: Review the privacy and security settings on websites to be sure they remain set to your comfort level for sharing. It’s OK to limit whom you share information.

·         Clean up your social media presence: Delete old photos and comments that are embarrassing or no longer represent who you are.

·         Update your “online self”: Are your social media sites up to date? Review your personal information and update it where needed.

For more consumer tips on digital safety, check out the National Cyber Security Alliance at staysafeonline.org.

Businesses can do a cyber safety check-up with BBB’s “5 Steps to Better Business Cybersecurity” at bbb.org/cybersecurity.

Don’t Get Fouled by Ticket Scams During March Madness

Don’t Get Fouled by Ticket Scams During March Madness

(Lake Havasu City, AZ – March 16, 2017) Large sporting events, such as March Madness, draw massive crowds with consumers looking to score a ticket to their favorite game. Considering the high desirability of these tickets, fans will often have to resort to the secondary resale market. Scammers take advantage of fans looking for great deals by capitalizing on tickets that may not even exist. Before printing brackets and mapping out a schedule, know what to look for when purchasing highly desirable tickets. Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers tips to avoid buying fake tickets and missing out on a great game.

To avoid ticket scams during March Madness, BBB shares tips for buying tickets:

  • Consider the source. Know the difference between a professional ticket broker (a legitimate and accredited reseller), a ticket scalper (an unregulated and unlicensed ticket seller), and a scammer selling fraudulent tickets.

  • Buy from secure sites.  Use secure sites such as StubHub.com, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats for second-hand purchases. When buying online, look for the lock symbol and/or an “s” in “https:” to make sure a secure connection is in place before sharing payment information. Don’t click on email links or online ads, as scammers often create web sites that look very similar to well-known companies.

  • Know the refund policy. Understand the terms and conditions of the ticket seller. Sellers should disclose seat numbers and reference a seating chart. If tickets are not available immediately, seller should state an exact date and time when they will be shipped or ready for pickup.

  • Use a credit card. If possible, use a credit card to purchase tickets. Most credit cards offer additional protection and recourse should there be a problem with a purchase. Wire transfers and cash purchases are hard to track and recover if tickets turn out to be fraudulent.

  • Don’t fall for flashy ads. Online searches will likely result in advertisements for cheap tickets. Use good judgment; some ads might be scams, particularly if prices are extremely low.

  • Verify tickets. For peace of mind, verify tickets before purchasing. Visit the arena where the event will be held and present tickets at “Will Call” (customer service) where they will be able to verify legitimacy.

When looking for trusted ticket sellers, visit bbb.org. In Arizona, there are seven BBB Accredited providers ready to help you find tickets.

NOTE: The National Association of Ticket Brokers is a BBB National Partner. We thank them for their assistance with this tip.

BBB Names 2017 Board, Adds Four New Business Leaders

BBB Names 2017 Board, Adds Four New Business Leaders

(Lake Havasu City, Arizona – February 15, 2017) Better Business Bureau Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona (BBB) welcomes new industry expertise to its 2017 board of directors ranging from law enforcement and security to commercial cleaning and health and wellness.

David Lorenz, vice president and commercial relationship manager with First Fidelity Bank is BBB’s 2017 chairman, while Ken Bonham, partner at Lucid Agency, serves as vice chair. Mike Bontrager with Adolfson & Peterson Construction, Carrie Young with SRP and Gary Sneed with Desert Schools Federal Credit Union complete the board’s executive committee.

“Thanks to strong board leadership, our BBB relocated to a 30,000 foot campus in Central Phoenix last February. In the last year, we’ve become a meeting destination for local businesses and have created nearly 40 new jobs,” BBB President/CEO Matthew Fehling said. “I could not ask for a more engaged group of professions to help BBB ‘move the needle.”

Additionally, four Arizona business leaders join the 33-person, nonprofit board bringing diverse industry expertise. New BBB board directors include: 

  • Kim Anderson-Matich, CEO, Anderson Security Agency, Ltd.

  • Michael Kurtenbach, Executive Assistant Chief, Phoenix Police Department

  • Cheryl Lewis, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Isagenix

  • Chris Sharfner, Owner, C & J Professional Cleaning Services

Organizations and expertise also represented on BBB’s 2017 board include:

Ashley Furniture Homestores

Beni.fit

Commit Agency

Cox Communications

CRC Broadcasting

Cue Financial Group, Inc.

Dircks Moving Services  

Donley Service Center

Ignite Creative Services  

John’s Refrigeration Heating and Cooling   

JLS Consulting

La Campesina Radio  

Mu Shu Asian Grill

ProCopy  

Reveal Concepts Co.

Shadow Mountain Auto Service  

Shamrock Foods

Snell & Wilmer

Sonora Quest Laboratories    

Sun Devil Auto  

Triad Consulting Corporation   

U.S. Postal Inspection Service

Yates Buick GMC  

Y Scouts

“It is a highlight of my professional career to serve as board chairman for the Greater Arizona Better Business Bureau in 2017.  Matthew Fehling is an empowering leader surrounded by a staff of uniquely talented, hardworking team members. Likewise, BBB is supported by a board of experienced Arizona business leaders who really care to make a difference for consumers and businesses in the community,” Lorenz said.  

BBB.ORG

For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, please contact Elaine Cullen at 928-302-3701 or ecullen@arizonabbb.org.

About Better Business Bureau Serving Central, Northern & Western Arizona

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses and 11,000 charities, all available free at bbb.org.  Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona serves 10 counties through its campuses in Phoenix, Lake Havasu City, Prescott and Yuma, supported by over 11,300 BBB Accredited Businesses. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to high standards of ethical business practices. BBB provides objective advice, free business reviews and charity reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.

Churches “Praying” for Resolution: Claim to Have Lost Thousands to Custom Church Interiors, LLC


Churches “Praying” for Resolution

Claim to Have Lost Thousands to Custom Church Interiors, LLC

(Lake Havasu City, AZ – January 25, 2017) Churches in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Oregon and Texas report losing more than $250,000 collectively after ordering pews, chairs, carpet, and other items and services from Phoenix-based Custom Church Interiors, LLC.

Better Business Bureau Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona (BBB) has received 12 complaints against Custom Church Interiors, LLC. According to complaints, Custom Church Interiors, LLC failed to deliver products and/or complete projects after collecting deposits ranging from $8,000 to $110,000.

Complaints received by BBB claim the company was initially responsive when first contacted by church representatives to inquire about products and services – and in other contact leading to contract signing and deposit collection. However, after contracts were signed and deposits were collected, complainants allege Custom Church Interiors, LLC became hard to reach, and in many cases, didn’t return phone calls or emails about pending orders. Complainants further alleged when successful in contacting Custom Church Interiors, refunds promised were not received.

“Our church ordered chairs in April with an expected delivery date of June,” stated a complainant. “Gave him a deposit of $10K. Started calling in June, July, August with numerous calls left on his cell and office number, with not one return(ed) call at all. Stopped by the office…and he said there was no chance he could deliver on the chairs and would refund our money. Gave his word he would call me on Monday with a payment plan. No call from him, and again left numerous calls and texts to his numbers.”

BBB attempted to contact the company numerous times to address the pattern of complaints. At the time of this release, the company’s website (customchurchinteriors.com) was inactive, phone numbers appeared to be disconnected, and Custom Church Interiors, LLC had not responded to BBB’s requests for information concerning consumer complaints. The company has earned an “F” rating with BBB for failure to respond to 12 complaints and failure to resolve the underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.