WAUKESHA — Suspicious ads are
everywhere and the Better Business Bureau has responded by creating
the online tool BBB AdTruth to enable shoppers to report suspicious
or misleading ads.
The BBB says that misleading ads often lack evidence to legitimize
their messaging and offers a few ways that shoppers can be on the
lookout for fraudulent or misleading advertisements.
Question vague promises. Some advertisements may claim they have the
“best price in town” or “we’ll beat any competitor’s price.” Who are
the competitors? Does this apply to all stores or only major
Beware of exaggerated claims. If there is no way to substantiate a
claim you see in an advertisement, that’s a bad ad. Decide if the
claim is too good to be true. Should a company really say that their
product is the “best in the world” or that “you’ll lose 10 pounds in
Always read the fine print. The deal may seem unbeatable but what is
the catch? Some advertisements may claim an extremely low price, but
it may not be offered to everyone. Do you have to have a killer
credit score to seal the deal?
Be skeptical of pricing. An ad may sometimes claim a “one day only
price,” but will they offer that price again? In addition, the ad
may claim to have an item on sale for 50 percent off, but is that
percentage off of the regular price or a marked-up price?
When using the BBB AdTruth, a person will be asked a series of
questions, such as where the ad was seen or heard, what claims were
made and why the consumer was concerned about the truthfulness of
the ad. Consumers are also able to upload screen shots or photos as
proof. This allows BBB investigators to gather information quickly.
After an ad is reported, BBB advertising review specialists
investigate and assess their truthfulness.