Better Business Bureau creates tool for reporting suspicious ads

Freeman Staff

Jan. 22, 2019

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 companies?

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 three days?”

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.