• Positive Polarity Podcast

How the Better Business Bureau is Helping Build Trust In Trying Times






Julie Albrecht is the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin, a non-profit organization that aims to help people find businesses and charities they can trust. With a goal of creating an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other, BBB calls out bad business behavior such as scams, fraud and misleading advertising and commends good businesses doing things the right way through their BBB Accredited Business program. Since 2013, Julie has worked to educate and inform people throughout the state of Wisconsin about BBB and BBB services by leveraging the power of social media and a wide variety of other communications platforms.


In addition to social media, Julie oversees the local BBB website, creation and development of marketing materials, advertising, business and consumer events, all internal and external communications, new programs, community outreach & engagement, strategic partnerships and the BBB of Wisconsin Foundation programs.

Before coming to BBB, Julie worked in marketing and public relations within the healthcare industry for 4 years.

Julie holds a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences Communications and a Certificate in International Studies from UW-Madison, and a Leadership Development Certificate from UW-Oshkosh. She resides in Brookfield, Wisconsin with her husband and 4-year old son.

Lisa Schiller has worked for the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin for nearly two decades and is the Director or Investigations and Media Relations. She holds a B.A. in Communications and a B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lisa regularly works with agencies referring cases as necessary, and with reporters as a BBB spokesperson, alerting the public about the latest scams as well as timely topics and tips. She has spent her career in the field of consumers issues, fraud and investigating. Lisa is a 2004 Emmy award winner and has won awards for investigations by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. At the BBB, she’s working to advance marketplace trust between buyers and sellers and promoting informed buying decisions. Prior to BBB, Lisa worked in TV broadcast news as an investigative producer. Lisa and her husband have a daughter and reside in Franklin.


Get In Touch:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-schiller-27610b15/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-albrecht/


Shownotes:


Dave:

Hey, Dave Melinda here, positive polarity podcast. I hope things are going awesome for ya. I'm super stoked this week because I'm trying something new full disclosure. We're trying to have two guests on at once to fantastic, better business Bureau of Wisconsin team members. So, we're going to kind of unpack that. So, Julie Albrecht, the director of marketing and communications. Hello. Hello. How are you? I'm great. How are you? Awesome. As soon as I see communications in a title, I'm hooked. So, we're going to come back that in a second. And Lisa Schiller, director of investigations and communications. How are you?


Lisa Schiller:

Good, Dave, glad to be here. Thank you.


Dave:

Awesome. Oh my gosh. You guys both have communications in your title, so you got to fill me in on what that means. Julie, what does that mean to you to see communications in your title?


Julie Albrecht:

Yeah, so I'd say I focus a little bit more on internal communications and communications with our BBB accredited businesses. Also, you know, more on the digital and marketing side, of course, with social media and advertising and things like that. So, really focusing, on that, whereas Lisa kind of focuses on media and that type of external consumer-focused persona.


Dave:

So, you guys have kind of a quasi-weird situation. I call it weird just because you have two clients, right. You have the general public, but you also have your membership. So, Lisa, where do you spend more of your time? Which, which group do you focus on more?


Lisa Schiller:

I would say both, but I'm probably more the consumer, so external. I'm always trying to reach out to consumers, educate them, get the message out about scams, and helpful, timely tips and information. But I also love the term communications. I'm a communication major. And although I work with the media and do external communications, Julie and I both handle communications for the BBB. So


Dave:

That's awesome. Yeah. And it's so funny because communication is such a broad term. On this podcast, what I like to do is try to focus on that intersection between where business and personal meet because they're so critical for us. So, we could have a great message as a company, but if we don't know how to deliver that message and we're poor in our communication, you know, that's going to be a struggle. So, you know, what's the message, Julie, that the BBB is trying to communicate right now to its members in a COVID situation?


Julie Albrecht:

So, of course, it's a really difficult time for businesses right now. And a lot depends on your industry, but all businesses are having a hard time in one way or another. But our mission really is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. So, I would certainly argue that trust is more im

portant now than ever before. Because there are so many scams and anytime there's uncertainty out there, people are trying to prey upon that. We try to bring that to light and show people the bad business practices, and commend good businesses, doing things the right way. And we primarily do that through our accreditation program. So, we're really just trying to encourage people to use BBB accredited businesses and trusted vetted businesses so that they don't fall victim to any sort of scam or bad business practices.


Dave:

I'm glad that you brought that up like that because, you know, it'd be easy to focus on the negative, right. It would be easy for us to just focus on all the potential problems, but I like that you actually, you know, did the reverse and said, we not only focused on that, but we also focus on, you know, accentuating the positive. So, I'll just tell us a little bit Julie, about the accreditation program. Let's say there are some BBB members that are listening or, quite frankly, maybe there are some that aren't, you know, BBB members. They want to understand the differences between those two. Can you help us with that?


Julie Albrecht:

Yeah, sure thing. If the BBB has accredited a business, it really means that BBB is determined that the business meets our accreditation standards. So, we have eight standards for trust, which really make up our code of business practices that these businesses who are accredited have to adhere to. And you know, it's up to the individual business if they want to be accredited or not. And that's really kind of a certification in a way to the public that they have been researched and vetted by the BBB, a third party to say that they do adhere to the standards. And not only do they have to adhere to them right away, but they're researched on an annual basis. So, we vet them regularly to make sure that they continually abide by those standards. And you know, our first standard for trust is to build trust. So, trust is really, again and again, the center and the core of everything that we do at BBB and everything that are accredited businesses has to adhere to?


Dave:

Thanks for pointing that out because I just, I had a client yesterday actually that somebody wanted to do business with them, but they were like, I've never heard of you. You know, so what they asked me what to do. So, I actually went to your website, and I found some testimonials, and I found that they have a plus rating on your site. And I sent that, you know, to this, to my client, who then forwarded it to their client. And they said, Oh my gosh, that's awesome. That's great. And they went ahead and actually secured, secured a nice project for them. So, you know, there's a ton of testimonials out there of people that are using the BBB in a positive way. So, Lisa, what are some other ways that we can use, whether we're a member accredited or not, what are some other ways we can use the BBB to our advantage?


Lisa Schiller:

Well, first of all, to kind of piggyback on what Julie said, I mean, think of it this way. You're going to do business with a company, or maybe you want to make a donation to a charity. And what do you do? You know, how do you make that decision? You can certainly Google the company or the charity's name. But you're going to be inundated with so many company names and charity names and information out there. And you can go right to the better business Bureau website@bbb.org. You can put the company's name in, put a charity name in on our charity arm, give.org, by the way. And all the information is right there, compacted for you. And not only is it right there for you, but we've done background information research on that accredited business. For example, we've already done the research for you. It's right there. So, you know, you can use all the information in the report. You can know that if you're dealing with an accredited business, you're dealing with a company that, that we've already not only done research on, but we've done research on, you know, continuously to make sure that they're providing the information that they say that they are, and that they're abiding by our standards, that they've agreed to abide by it.


Dave:

Sure. And that's so easy to miss. I mean, you know, we're all human, and it's, it's kind of easy to mislead people. Some people intentionally do it, some people not, but, you know, as a consumer, I'm always looking to be like, you know, it says I can lose 20 pounds in 10 minutes. It's like, Oh my gosh. Right. Th you know, it's one of those funny things that you have this, you know, the brain that works usually, but sometimes people, you need a third-party verification, as you said before. So, if I was a consumer and I was struggling, if I wanted to maybe, you know, have my roof replaced or whatever, let's use that roof replaced, you know, and I wanted to do some research about that, you know, Julie, how does that work? What's where does that start? Where would I start as a consumer then?


Julie Albrecht:

So, it depends where people are at in the buying process, right? So sometimes, you already have a business in mind, and you just want to do a little research on that specific business. But in the case that you need your roof redone, maybe you don't even know where to start. So, a lot of people look, of course, for personal experiences asking their friends, you know, do you have any recommendations? And you can just do a Google search and include BBB in that Google search so that you can see, you know, roofing contractors near you. That's actually our, our top industry of the biggest amount of the biggest industry for the BBB accredited businesses.


Dave:

I can pick the right one then not good. Awesome.


Julie Albrecht:

Especially when people are making purchases like that to get your whole roof replaced, that's a substantial project, which will cost you a lot of money. So, it's especially important. I mean, purchases bigger, small, but especially those big purchases to do your research and work with a trusted company.


Dave:

And that's what, so that's where the, like the BBB, the little logo, when you see an ad, that's what people should be looking for to determine if the better business Bureau vets them, is that correct?


Julie Albrecht:

That's correct. So, if they're using that logo, that means they are a BBB accredited business, and our current accredited business tells us that that's really one of the main benefits, right? So, once you go through our research process and you meet our standards for trust, you then have the right to use our trademark logo, or BBB accredited business logo. And we actually do a really great job of making sure that non-accredited businesses do not use that logo. So, it really is. It's a trademark infringement. So, it becomes a legality issue actually, when non-accredited businesses are using that. And we do a, a really great job. We have a person who handles that in our office too. Just to make sure that nobody is using that logo, which shouldn't be.


Dave:

Well, I'm using mine the right way, so I'm happy. Thank you. Good job. I don't get a call. That's always a good thing. Right. So well, and I think it's, you know, for consumers, it's easy to ask your neighbor, Hey, who did your roof, you know, staying on that roof topic. But it's hard to not have a third-party verification like that. So, you know, I think of it, and neither one of you are old enough to be able to understand what I'm going to tell you. But I remember the good housekeeping seal when I was a kid that was really important. And for whatever reason, my parents would, you know, look for that seal. And if it had that on the box of whatever they were buying, there was just an added comfort level.


Lisa Schiller:

Yes. And I actually am old enough to remember the good housekeeping seal. I know actually what it is like that. And I'll also add that. I think a lot of people don't realize that we're actually spending a lot of time. My full-time job just about is doing investigations. I work with media relations, which takes a lot of time as well, but sure. I'm investigating the companies that we are seeing complaints come in regarding where consumers have paid money.


I'm going to take a look at the company's report. I'm going to evaluate all of the complaints on file. I'm going to reach out to those complainants. I might write a press release. I might keep it on my radar. I might reach out to a district attorney's office, the police department in that particular city. Yeah. And I might inform other agencies. And that's one things that we also do that I don't know if people realize. Still, we regularly refer cases to agencies that you know, such as the police department, different law enforcement, federal trade commission, Attorney General's offices. So, you know, our goal is to, is to, you know, get these companies to do what's right in the end.


Dave:

Sure. So, if I do run into a company where I'm unsure of them, do I just jump on your website, Lisa? Is that the best way to kind of do a background check? Do I call in what's the best way as a consumer for me to actually kind of put that into motion?


Lisa Schiller:

Sure. If you're thinking of doing business in a particular category of businesses, say refer you can go to our website. I would suggest searching for refers that are accredited. You can use our accredited business directory, right@bbb.org G you know, punch the company's name in up, comes the report, see what information we have. If we don't have information on a company that you're thinking of doing business with, you might want to reach out to that company and ask them why they don't have a report with the BBB. You know, any company can register their information. We'll be happy to get them started gathering some general basic information on their company and then developing a report from there.


Dave:

That's a lot. And you had me at police and all that. So, you know, I always laugh because when we were open when we could go into the BBB, your office has a little wall of people's faces. And so those are the naughty people. So, I'm always glad when I walked by, and I don't see my face there. That's always a good thing.


Lisa Schiller:

You always stop to see if your face is there.


Dave:

Exactly. Cause that's important. It's so helpful because there are so many people that really, you know, don't know where to go and, you know, it's a place to start. I've heard a lot when I walked through your halls, you know, the people, you know, talking to the general public on the phone about, you know, this place has been in business this many years, they, they have no complaints or whatever. I mean, that's such a huge help. And, and we started this off talking about communication. So, you know, on your side, Julie, from, from my, if I look at it from a member's perspective, you know, do you feel like I should be

using that BBB to my advantage? What are a couple of ways that I could really take advantage of my membership right now?


Julie Albrecht:

Yeah, definitely. As I said, you know, using the seal, the logo just promoting to your customers and potential customers that you are accredited with BBB is probably the number one thing. But there's a huge slew of benefits of accreditation as well. So, one of the things is adding photos and videos to your business profile. So, anybody can have a business profile, any business but BBB accredited businesses have the opportunity to customize it a little more, add those photos, those videos, their logo to make it look a little bit sharper and more professional. And then, of course, access to all of our educational resources. We have a lot of educational resources and do a lot of presentation work with various organizations and businesses. And we also have a couple of other benefits, ways that accredited businesses can promote themselves further within the BBB network.


Dave:

Sure. That's awesome. And I wrote down build trust, because again, you know, in today's world, that's probably people seem to be leerier than ever, whether it's a temporary thing. And eventually, we'll go back to having that trust. But if I do not see that BBB thing, I guess that's, you know, the logo that on a website on literature, whatever. I mean, I'm assuming you're hoping to see that the more places that people see that, the more trust that gets built up for that particular company, I'm assuming.


Julie Albrecht:

Yeah, definitely. And, even on a higher level, we just want to educate people to make informed buying decisions. So, of course, we have great information, and you should start with BBB, but you can also, you know, go to a variety of sources and see the information that's posted. You know, online customer reviews are really big right now. And we actually saw a 75% increase to a customer review website, traffic for us, and our business profiles during the pandemic. And so that's huge people are, they have the time now where if they're making a purchasing decision, they're going to do their research. So, it's really important as a business tool to make sure that you have online reviews and keep tabs on those.


Dave:

So if I'm a member accredited or not, do I have access to your team to be able, cause I, I want to kind of key in, on your marketing side for a minute, Julie, you know in addition to you marketing the BBB, are you there to help me with some of my struggles, if I am having an issue as a member, how do you tie in your expertise to help me, you know, as a member try and build my business? How does that work?


Julie Albrecht:

Yeah, absolutely. So, we're here to help all businesses and all consumers in the state of Wisconsin in which we serve. And as an accredited business, you have a personal member services consultants. You can call it's based on your region, so where you're located in the state. But for example, here in Southeastern Wisconsin, it's Ana. So, you can pick up the phone and call Anna when you need something or email her directly, and she's more than happy to help you. So, it's really nice to have that one-on-one person, any business is welcome to call us, and we're happy to help anybody. But with the accreditation, you get kind of a person assigned to you and your business. And I think I speak for everybody at the BBB when I say that we are here to help, and I would be more than happy to coach businesses.

We do social media really well. So, I'm happy to talk to businesses about their social media strategy or managing their online reputation through those customer reviews. As I mentioned, I actually do that for BBB. I respond to any of the Google reviews that get posted to our BBB, Google my business profile. So not only do I have expertise in that, but I also have experience managing that from the business perspective. So, it's a really valuable position to be in. And we're just really here to help people all around. And so, we're happy to do that anytime.


Lisa Schiller:

And I'll also add because Julie isn't saying this for herself, but we have one of the largest social media followings in the country of all the BBDS. And that's in her to Julie and her team. They've done such a terrific job, and in fact, other BBBS reach out to us and want to know what we're doing and how they can do the same thing. So, it's really been effective. And regarding customer reviews, I absolutely have to say that we are really the only place you can go to for vetted and verified reviews. So, you can trust our reviews. If we receive a customer review from somebody positive, negative, or neutral, we're going to reach out to that consumer and make sure that their email address is correct. We can speak to them about their experience. We can validate their phone number, and then we reach out to the company and make sure that that really, and truly is a customer of theirs. It's not just somebody off the street that, you know, has a vendetta and wants to say something negative. So, our reviews are really great.


Dave:

That's awesome. And then I think so, so what's the secret sauce there, Julie, because you know, Lisa tells us that you have the best, which is awesome. I mean, I'm honored. Thanks for sharing that. That's great info. And that's why I wanted, you know, you guys to help me out today on the podcast because, you know, businesses like there's a lot of businesses right now that are struggling. I mean, it was hard enough to make money, you know, in a small business prior to everything going on in 2020, you know, we just ratcheted it up a few steps. So, you know what's the secret sauce? What, and I know I'm facetious on that, but what are some things that you've done to really, you know, build that social media following?


Julie Albrecht:

So, I'm very excited that this year I looked back at the statistics. So, I started with BBB in 2013, and just this year, we've actually increased our following on social media by 100%. So, we are at 48,000 combined followers on all of our social media platforms and, and that's specific to Wisconsin, which is, which is amazing. It's, it's absolutely excellent. And I think the key to that has been to have a very specific social media strategy and plan. We have a variety of goals within our strategy, but we really specifically focus on engagement. Of course, it's great to have all those followers. It's great for any business to have a big following, but that doesn't really mean anything unless those followers are engaged with you and actively participating in your page or using your product or services. So, so that's really the key. We focus greatly on engagement because it's our job in marketing to connect people with the better business Bureau services and anything that they need or want to use. We want to put them in touch with that. So that's really the key to our social media strategy.


Dave:

Wow. So, I saw you mean I have to post more than one thing a year on LinkedIn. Yeah. That might be a good start, right? Yeah, exactly. And that's, and that's, I appreciate the fact that you, you know, you share how many followers, but yeah, that's really not the goal. The goal is the engagement part because I agree, you know, you can have plenty of followers, but if they're not doing anything, you know, unless you're on an ego trip, which is fine, but the reality is, is we are looking for engagement. We want these both members, and we want consumers to really, you know, be engaged in all the platforms you guys have. So that's really cool. So, I guess if you're listening, you know, my takeaway from this and what I'm thinking is, is I need a specific plan that involves engagement, as opposed to just a specific plan about getting that message out.


And so, you know, both of you, you guys, whoever wants to answer from a communication perspective, we're kind of thinking about just delivering a message, and we're really not as concerned about the person listening or anything that happens back. How do you kind of turn that, you know, and get companies to be, you know, probably more concerned about the engagement than the reach, because again, you can reach wherever and if you don't have that engagement, it doesn't really help? So, any tips on how to kind of turn somebody from that reach to engagement thought process?


Julie Albrecht:

Well, it's really all about adding value. You know, having a variety of content that you can provide to people, and all of that helps to build expertise. So, people will not do business with you if they don't think you're an expert in your field, right. So, it's really important and a great way to do so as on social media to push out content to sort of softly and kindly prove that you are an expert, and you know what you're talking about, and that's going to make people want to work with you versus just saying, Hey, this is what I do. You should buy my product or work with me. So, it's really all about content and adding value.


Dave:

Awesome. And, and so you have, how many members about now, how many?


Julie Albrecht:

About 6,500 in the state of Wisconsin.


Dave:

Okay. 6,500 members. And so how, how active are they in, you know, how engaged are they, do you feel like they're doing a great job or do they, you know, and I include myself, so talk to me as a, as a member, because sometimes I feel like I'm resting on the fact that while the BBB is out there for me, you know, they're helping me, I don't need to do anything because they're doing it for me. So, you know, is there that engagement or what are some ways we can get more engaged, I guess, as members to try and really, you know, continue to, to, to preach that message.


Julie Albrecht:

Well, it's just like any organization that you're involved in; you're really going to get out of it what you put in. So yeah, it's important to be a part of the BBB and but it's more important to be engaged. So, unless you're actively putting the logo in the seal on your website and your marketing materials, unless you're attending some of our educational events or networking events, unless you're doing some of those key things, you're probably not going to find a ton of value. Right. And, you know, it's great to say that you're accredited, but really engaging with us and taking some more action to get involved with your better business Bureau is, is really the key.


Dave:

So, what are some things you, you brought up education? So, I want to kind of ask that what are some things that you, you know, offer to your members from an education perspective?


Julie Albrecht:

Yeah, so we try to keep it high level because we have a huge variety of accredited businesses. So, we want to add value and give them content that would be applicable to their business. So, topics can go anywhere from accounting tax financial resources to, you know, legal issues. We work with a couple of local BBB accredited law firms on that. HR is also great at hiring and retaining good employees. That's always a key topic and an important discussion for businesses. And then we offer a couple of things like informing businesses on small business scams. Lisa has done that presentation before that's really popular. And also, I'll occasionally present on online reputation management. So talking about customer reviews and responding to reviews, you know, in a nice kind way, of course.


Dave:

Well, you mean you're supposed to respond? I thought you just left them blank.


Julie Albrecht:

That's the first slide in my presentation.


Dave:

Just respond. Right. That's awesome. Well, so it's so full disclosure. I watch NASCAR for the crashes. Okay. So, and the reason I say that is because one of my favorite things that I wanted to talk about was the scam part. So just because I don't know, call me weird whatever, but I think that you know, it's really helpful to be on the lookout for that. So, you know, as a, as, as not only a consumer Lisa but also as, you know, a, a member, what are some things that are, you know, we should be looking out for right now that you've come across that, that you feel comfortable sharing with us?


Lisa Schiller:

Well, I think that scams are really at an all-time high right now, and that's due to COVID and putting out press releases on a weekly basis since February as different scams come to our attention. We want to get that information out to the public. You know, there's, there's fake, COVID tests being offered. You know, there's a lot of puppy scams right now because people are home. And they're looking for a companion, they jump online, they do a search, you know, cute beagle puppies and up jumps, different websites and they click around, and a lot of those are going to be fake online websites. And sometimes you don't even realize it until you've lost your money or you, you know, you've paid, and you've named the dog, and now he's not arriving.


We've done some stuff study recently, a couple of studies on puppy scans, really interesting. All of our studies are online. If anybody ever needs nighttime reading material, I seriously highly recommend reading them. They're really very interesting. And romance scams are up because, again, people are home; they're on their computers more often. And number one is online purchase scams. We just put out a press release this week, releasing our newest study on online purchase scans and the fact that they are so high right now you know, since COVID and you know, we really want to try and get that message across that before you make a purchase know who you're dealing with, you know, be able to look up that company find information on our website. If you don't, you might want to step up, take a step back, take a better look at the website, look for grammatical errors, and make sure there's the contact information you can verify.

You know, a lot of times, people will see an address on a website and think, Oh, the company's located at three 23 main street, Beloit, Wisconsin. You, if you take a minute to Google that address, you'll find that perhaps it's a UPS Dropbox, it might be a field, it might be a motel. It might just be an individual's address because we see a lot of hijacking of legitimate addresses and information cameras. You know, they don't care. They'll do whatever works for them and what works quickly so they can get a fake website up that looks real. They can maybe still photos from another website, such as puppies, for example, notorious for using legitimate websites photos and, you know, throw an address out there. And boom, you know, they're done making a website that looks legitimate, and consumers are going to be drawn in almost immediately.


Dave:

What the, okay, so a puppy scan, this is totally new to me. So, like there's, so if I want a puppy and I Google whatever, what, what do I do puppies near me or whatever. And then this website shows up that somebody has a shell obviously, and are they expecting me to like pick out a dog and then put money down on that. Obviously, there's money involved somewhere, and it's got to be kind of on an online situation. Is that what they're trying to do?


Lisa Schiller:

Generally, online, a lot of people in general, purchasing dogs and puppies and other animals that are located out of state, they might find a breeder you know, or, or find somebody online that's, you know, selling puppies or other animals. And so that's not out of the ordinary to travel a little bit to pick up your new housemate. The problem is, is that you know, scammers know this, and anything that a scammer knows, they're going to try to take advantage of you in that way. So, they know people are, are willing to commute to pick up that animal. They know that if they create a website showing animals for sale, that they will profit from it. And I cannot tell you how big this is right now. And it has been when we've seen this for years, but it's been guy rocketing since COVID because more people are in their homes.

You know, watching the news, you might've heard that many people are taking in, you know, new family members. Julie has a new job. We have about five, six different staff members who have new puppies to add to their family within the last three months. And you know what, and that's a great thing. But you just have to be so very careful as to, you know, what you do in order to obtain that, that new family member. So, they will ask for money. As you stated, they'll ask for money in untraceable payment methods, such as wire transfer even gift cards. So, you want to be really careful if you send your money by wire transfer or you purchase a gift card because scammers love gift cards. And I know that sounds a little strange, but scammers will ask for gift card payment for anything and everything.

We saw that again pop-up and you know, that, and that we see that a couple of times a year, every year and some days throughout the year, where for example, somebody will call and say, Dave, you have, you know, I'm calling from we energies, you haven't paid your bill. You know, I'm agent Lisa Schiller, numbered, you know, six, five, nine, two. And you know, you need to pay up on your account, or we're going to shut off your electricity. Now, a lot of businesses, especially restaurants, will get that call and even homeowners, you know, and an evening that it's, you know, cold out or a busy evening at a restaurant, and they'll panic. And they'll think this must be official because my caller ID shows it's WE energy. Sure. But that number is being spoofed, which is very easily easy to do. And for scams, you know, they can make a number look like it's coming from anywhere. And they'll ask for payment by gift card, because once you go out and purchase those gift cards and you come, come back to the phone, and you scratch off the back, and you give that number to the scammer, your money's gone, and there's really no way of ever retrieving it. So, in the puppy scam, they like gift cards. They like, while you're transferred any method of payment, that's untraceable where you cannot get your money back.


Dave:

I just can't. I mean, I remember that I had that call from the wee energy's probably about a year ago. And you know, when I was doing monthly events at your place there in Milwaukee, and I asked you guys about it, and it was interesting because yeah, you know, the caller ID came up as we energies. The guys, you know, you, you did exactly what you did, Lisa. And I think the interesting thing was the tip-off for me as I said, well, I'm on autopay. I saw you know, did it get shut off? And as soon as you kind of throw them for a little bit of a loop, you know, he's like, well, I don't know, but you all this money. And I could tell right there that this was going in a spot where I knew this wasn't an accurate situation, because I'm like, well, what's my account number then.


And he's like, well, I don't have access to that. I'm like, well, you know, you start asking some of these questions, and then they get frustrated really quick, and they hang up. Right. Because they know that they're onto them. What, what are the suggestions? I mean, I couldn't in a million years imagined we energies wanting a Walmart gift card, you know? I mean, but so part of that, I don't want to sound disrespectful part of that's on us as a consumer, right. I mean, if you're getting a call and they're asking for a gift card, where's the, where's the reason where, how do people fall for that? I guess I'm trying to understand that. Not in any meaningful way. I'm just trying to understand that.


Lisa Schiller:

Well, that goes to show you how good scammers can be, because they can be so convincing and once, they get your attention, and once they get you to the point where you're a little, you know, afraid. Okay. And you know, they, they want you to act quick. So, they try to move things along very quickly. They don't give you a lot of consumers, a whole lot of time to ask questions or to check on things or maybe to say, can I give you a call back? I mean, this is, this is the expertise of scammers. That's why we have to stay one step ahead, right before COVID, we had a woman come into our office, and she had a plastic bag, and it was filled with gift cards. And I met with her in one of our conference rooms. And I brought a pad of paper, and she began to show me all of these gift cards that she had been paying a scammer.


That said, he was from we energies. And she said that her caller ID said, we energies. She gave me the phone number. She had paid $17,000 in gift cards to the scammer. This was, you know, just back at the end of January. It was so pitiful and, and so sad. And she actually had a separate bag of money that she had taken cash from her bank thousands and thousands of dollars. She was ready to go buy more. She happened to get a call from her nephew. And she's a widow, no children, her nephew happened to color just to say, hello, how are you? He asked what she was doing. And she ended up telling him, you know, I have to pay all this money to we energies. And he said, wait a minute, stop. He told her to call the better business Bureau, and she actually drove to her office instead.


We're in West Dallas technically, and she lived in Brookfield. So, I was able to call the Brookfield police department and ask them to, you know, please come and escort her back to her bank. After I spent about an hour speaking with her about these scams, we called the phone number that called her was disconnected, no longer in service. And I said to her, you know, did you really think you owed this money? And she said, you know, my husband's been deceased for 10 years. He used to own a business. I had nothing to do with the business at all. And when they called and said, I owed this money, I assumed it was an old debt that he had from his business. So, you know, it, it just goes to show really how, how good scammers and I hate to say it, but, you know, sometimes they can really be effective, and you know, once they get people in that panicky mode, they'll act upon what they're asked to do, unfortunately. And that's why we have to keep trying to get that word out through press releases and articles and, and news media assistance from them.


Dave:

So, are you thinking, I mean, do, do you, I think people need to slow down first of all, and kind of really understand what's going on here before I get sucked into this emotional situation? And I mean, I know that that's probably growing in winter when it's below zero, and they're going to shut your heat off and, you know, I, I can see how that can potentially be an issue. What do we do? I mean, what, what's the, do we ask to call them back? Do we what can, you know, how can we kind of understand the difference between a legitimate call from a utility that we won't pick on we energies, but, or phone company or whatever it is, any scam or a dog thing for that matter? You know, is there an easy way to detect, you know, this, or do I just have to be, my intent has to be so high up and just on the lookout for everything.


Lisa Schiller:

Unfortunately, I would say your antenna does have to be up these days, and you know, be skeptical of everything. You know, we always tell people, take a step back. You know, just don't make a rash decision on anything. You know, take a little bit of time to think about this, whatever it may be. If anything involves the telephone, always, do you want to hang up and actually call the company directly if you have any questions or concerns. If you think it's we energies calling or think you know that you may owe money on your bill, hang up on the caller and actually call us energies directly. For example, you want to call that number directly. You do not want to take the phone number from anybody over the phone in an email, et cetera. You want to go to that company directly. And, you know, remember if you ever have any questions or concerns, you can always call the better business Bureau, and we'll try to guide you through whatever it is that mailer that you got, that you're curious about, or that phone call that you got, those promises that were made you know, feel free to contact us anytime. It's what we do.


Dave:

If somebody does call me and I'm concerned or nervous about it, is it safe to ask them for their phone number? And obviously, if they don't give it, it's pretty much a dead giveaway because I got to believe if somebody from a utility or a phone company or whatever called me, and I wanted a phone number to verify that they would give me a number, would, you know, reach back to them. Is that a safe situation, or have they kind of worked around that too?


Lisa Schiller:

Well, no, because the scanner can give you, you know, a fake number and spoof the call. You know, you can think that you're calling we energies, but you're really calling the scammer back. So, you can certainly ask for the phone number and then report it to the better business Bureau. We have this fantastic tool called BDD scam tracker, and you can go right to our website, [inaudible] dot org master. We asked consumers to report scams and fraud so that we know what's going on. And it's also a great tool for consumers because you can go online and you can find out what's being reported in your area, in your neighborhood and your zip code, or in any neighborhood across the United States, you can see what's being reported. You can do keyword searches, and it's great for law enforcement and media as well, because, you know, they use that to see what's being reported and, you know, maybe what they should be working on.


Dave:

What's the website again?


Lisa Schiller:

Bbb.Org/Scam tracker to report scams, and that's national. It is national. Yes. And we use that information on a yearly basis. We put out a press release at the beginning of every year, letting you know what the most important what the most popular scams have been for reporting. So, I can tell you, you know, online purchase scans right now are, are leading the way with employment scams right up there with them. You know, we won't know the actual statistics until the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. You know, but there are certain things that, you know, are still very, very common and popular. Online purchase scams employment scams are very big right now. You know, we still see the grandparent, the emergency scams all year long puppy scams are big romance, scams are being reported. So, you can go on, on that website anytime and see what's being reported and read word for word what consumers are reporting. Wow. That's fantastic.


Dave:

Yeah, that's great. Thank you. Well, Hey, as we come in for a landing on this, I appreciate your time. I want to ask you one last question each. And so, think about like the entrepreneur that's listening, the business owner what's a tip of the week that you would, you know, give them resell, start with you. What's it would be a tip of the week for a business right now, from your perspective.


Lisa Schiller:

Well, we're in really tough times, Dave. And, and I think everybody is kind of in the same boat. I would say, first of all, you know, don't panic you know, keep doing what you're doing follow your passion and, you know, I guess try to support and spread positivity as much as you can support local businesses so important, you know, they're the backbone of the United States. We need them going. And if you can't support them financially, you know, support them in other ways, maybe write them a positive review. If you've had a good experience, I'm always such a believer in positive reviews. It just, you know, all year long in a pandemic auto pandemic, so important, you know, we always take time. We find the time to complain oftentimes, but we don't often take times when we're happy with a service or a business to write a positive review and spread that good positive information. You know, also if you can't afford to commit to business now, maybe commit to that business later, you know, when things get better, you know, I'll, I'll need some, you know marketing information or a lead, a roofing job, and I'm going to keep you in mind. So, you know, let that business know that you know, you're happy to support them in any way that you can.


Dave:

It's awesome. Thank you. Thanks for sharing that, Julie. What about you?


Julie Albrecht:

Well, we started off the conversation kind of talking about communication. So, so I'll just focus on that. I mean, communication is always key, but especially right now, and as a business owner or as a leader, it's really important to communicate regularly, whether that's to your customers, your potential customers, or your staff and employees. And also, as a part of that, making sure that people are finding fact-based information. That's what the BBB is all about too. We try to vet businesses and show people the facts. So, it's important that everybody, whether you're a business owner or a consumer or both important to find fact-based information and communicate that regularly.


Dave:

That's great. Thank you. Thanks so much for that. I can say that the BBB from a consumer perspective, I get, and, and as I become more involved with your organization and now being an accredited business, I really see the value that that brings to companies. So, you know, I always, when we were doing events, you know, at your place and we brought people in, and if they weren't, you know aware or weren't members, we always were like, Hey, here are the advantages of that? So, if somebody was listening and wanted to learn more about the BBB, what's the best way for that or for you to individually, or if somebody wanted to have specific, you know, scam related questions, Lisa, or specific marketing questions for you, Julie, tell me the best way, and I'll start with you, Lisa, what's the best way for people to get ahold of you through this?


Lisa Schiller:

Sure. Well, they can contact our office at four one four eight four seven, 6,000. That's our general number. They can reach Julie or me on that number. Always happy to, you know, communicate with anybody consumer business. Anyway, we can help.


Dave:

Thank you. And Julie, what about you?


Julie Albrecht:

Yeah, same with me. Happy to talk with anybody for any reason. If people are interested in accreditation, you can get accredited on our website. Or if you just want to talk to somebody more, you can call our main line. Happy to take anything from businesses or consumers.


Dave:

Awesome. And I will make sure all that information is in the show notes. And, you know, I think that the takeaway from me here was the words you used at the beginning, which I really appreciate is the marketplace trust. And so, you know, if you're listening and you, you know, might be struggling, is your company struggling with that? I mean, if you look on Google and you see yourself in a two, a three, three and a half out of five, you know, people tend to struggle thinking that there might be something wrong, you know, there, because then they can search by the worst, you know, and they start looking at these Google reviews, and you're just like everybody else. And I think one thing that BBB does for their members is to try and set them apart, you know, raise that bar, so to speak.

And so that's what I appreciate about both of you ladies for doing that for me. So, I just want to say thank you for that. And if you're listening and you want to really take this seriously. They laid out some great tools on their website to have access to, to communication experts, whether it's in, you know, whatever field they're in, that's, that's pretty rare. So please take advantage of that. And they, they, they enjoy food, and they enjoy bottles of wine sold. Don't come empty-handed, right? That's kind of what they taught me over the years is you don't come in empty-handed, but all kidding aside, you know, we need somebody to come alongside us at times in our business career. And we can spend a ton of money for a business coach like me, or you can at least get started with Lisa and Julia.

And they're going to totally help, you know, as best that they can. There are other people on their team that, you know, they're able to tap into. So, I've seen a lot of really positive things come out of the BBB. And so, I just wanted to again say thanks to both of you. So, I'm hoping that we can soon resume our in-person meetings because it's, you know, zoom is fun, but it's starting to lose its luster. I don't know if you guys are starting to get itchy, but I'm ready to have an in-person gathering. So hopefully soon, Lisa, thank you for hanging out with us, Julie, thank you much. I appreciate, you know, the time and, and I'm hoping that you know, this information was valuable to everybody listening and especially the the two tips. I mean, those were really great. And again, as we close, just find a way to improve your marketplace trust because you will definitely win out on that.