Better Business Bureau: BBB shreds, recycles record amount of documents helping prevent identity theft in 2014

CONTACT: Lisa Schiller, Media Relations

PHONE: 414- 847- 6055

FAX: 414-302- 0355

E-MAIL: [email protected]

Milwaukee, Wis. – 2014 proved to be another busy year for the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin and its education foundation.

The BBB reached millions of people and business owners through media alerts, media stories to warn against scams, social media, consumer and business newsletters, blogs, scam-stopper, tips on buying smarter, and educational events.

One such event is ShredFest, BBB’s bi-annual free community shredding event held this year in Milwaukee, Appleton, Madison, and for the first time, Manitowoc. In 2014, the BBB Serving Wisconsin and its Foundation helped thousands of people avoid identity theft by collecting, shredding, and recycling nearly 150,000 pounds of personal documents – double the amount of that in 2013 – and a record total for the BBB since ShredFest began in 2007.

Requests for BBB reports on businesses and charities in Wisconsin rose to 2,267,239, up 8 percent from 2013. The BBB responded to 18,732 telephone calls and 2,571 live chats.

The BBB is pleased to report that business ethics is alive and well in the state of Wisconsin. 85.5 percent of Wisconsin accredited businesses chose to reaffirm their commitment to the BBB’s standards of trust in 2014.

Posting of positive, negative, and neutral customer reviews to our website in 2013 was 3,757 and increased 6 percent to 3,984 postings in 2014.

“People are very interested in maximizing their marketplace experience by sharing that experience with others through reviews, and our statistics show that to be true”, says Ran Hoth, CEO and president. “By offering this free service, the BBB provides a platform for customers to voice positive, negative, or neutral experiences they have with local businesses.”

The number of complaints processed by the BBB Serving Wisconsin was 10,841. The BBB was able to obtain responses for 85 percent of the complaints, thanks to ethical businesses in Wisconsin who want to do the right thing for their customers.

Being able to view actual complaint detail in BBB reports was added in January, 2013, and statistics show that complaint detail was viewed by the public 197,756 times throughout 2014, a 3.28 percent increase.

In addition, the BBB Serving Wisconsin conducted 193 investigations and sent 62 press releases to the public including informational pieces, business alerts, and scam notifications. This resulted in more than 3,600 TV, radio and newspaper stories, a 33 percent increase. The BBB Serving Wisconsin also continued posting regular, sometimes-weekly blogs for various online and print publications, including In Business, Now, Patch, Wisconsin Woman and 50 Plus.

Monitoring of advertising remains a significant function at the BBB. In 2014, the BBB challenged 162 ads for questionable claims, BBB logo misuse, and noncompliance with BBB standards. The BBB requested immediate cease and desist from unauthorized users of its logo, requested substantiation of certain advertising claims and, in some cases, asked companies to modify their advertising to eliminate false or misleading information.

In 2014, the BBB Serving Wisconsin increased its Twitter followers by 22.4 percent, bringing the total to more than 5,500 and increased its Facebook “likes” 10 percent, bringing the total of Facebook fans to more than 22,450.

The BBB offers free “Request a Quote” opportunities for consumers through its website. Choosing to “request a quote” allows a person to obtain free quotes, estimates, information, or proposals from BBB Accredited Businesses. In 2014, the BBB forwarded 3,984 requests for quotes to accredited businesses.

In May, the BBB awarded eight scholarships – the most ever – to high school seniors who demonstrated high character, leadership, and ethical values. Each of the eight students received a $2,500 scholarship to attend an accredited college of their choice. The 2014 “Student of Integrity” scholarship was sponsored by the BBB of Wisconsin Foundation, Jericho Resources, Baird, Dave Jones, Briggs & Stratton, and an anonymous donor.

Top 10 Most Inquired About Types of Businesses

Construction & Remodeling Services

73,267

Roofing Contractors

71,334

Insurance Companies

59,401

Auto Repair & Service

49,150

Heating & Air Conditioning

46,865

Auto Dealers – Used Cars

44,610

Plumbers

37,347

Home Builders

33,971

Auto Dealers – New Cars

33,372

Home Improvements

32,612

Top 10 Most Complained About Types of Businesses

Department Stores

771

Auto Dealers – New Cars

393

Mail Order & Catalog Shopping

345

Furniture – Retail

326

Building Materials

249

Furniture Manufacturers

214

Auto Dealers – Used Cars

205

Insurance Companies

190

Cable TV, Internet & Telephone Installation Service

177

Collection Agencies

166

BBB information and services are free because of the strong support from thousands of ethical businesses and charities who demonstrate their commitment to ethical practices by being BBB Accredited. Visit our website for information concerning accreditation. Consumers may obtain Business Reviews online at bbb.org or by calling 414-847-6000 or toll-free throughout the state at 1-800-273-1002. Consumers can also receive news alerts from the BBB Serving Wisconsin by following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook.

For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at http://www.bbb.org/wisconsin or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin). Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Twitter, Facebook and You Tube.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2013, people turned to BBB more than 132 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org/wisconsin. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 112 local, independent BBBs across North America, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Wisconsin was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.