Idaho Business Fueled by the Sun

renewableenergynw1

Written by Emily Valla, Senior Marketplace Director

As Carl Simpson points out the contraptions on a roof at a Meridian home, his eyes light up. He is clearly passionate about what he does, and why he does it. For the past seven years, Simpson has installed more than 1,000 solar tubes as part of his Treasure Valley- based business, Renewable Energy Northwest.

You may have heard of solar panels providing electricity to homes and businesses —and Simpson can do that too —but, his expertise is on solar thermal energy. Think, heating your hot water by the power of the sun.

The tubes sit on top of a roof, on an exterior wall, or even on the ground, and absorb energy from the sun. Simpson describes the unit as two glass tubes with a vacuum in between.

“The ultra violet rays go inside the tube, and (the inside) can be 400 degrees in an hour even at negative 30 degrees,” said Simpson.

The outside, however, would match the temperature.

BBB Credibility

Renewable Energy NW became BBB Accredited in 2012. Accreditation is important to Simpson, because he doesn’t have many competitors, which isn’t typically why businesses seek accreditation. What Simpson does is unique, and he often finds potential customers don’t know much about solar thermal energy. When they go to seek other quotes, Simpson says they don’t always find other options. So, to establish credibility, he sought to align with Better Business Bureau.

“(It’s) extremely important that we deliver satisfaction and affordable renewable energy solutions,” Simpson said in an email.

He wants his customers to do their homework and find he is committed to upholding BBB Standards.

Solar Power Savings

Simpson regularly outfits existing homes, to the tune of about 80 per year, but he does just as many new construction homes. He says that’s where there is the most opportunity: solar energy can be integrated into the design from the start. A large portion of Simpson’s business is commercial projects.

One of Simpson’s favorite projects was a car wash in Fruitland. He says the installation paid for itself within 18 months, when comparing the cost savings over natural gas to heat the water used in the wash. A CPA by training, Simpson pays close attention to the numbers when it comes to cost savings. He wants clients to be aware of incentives available to them for installing the solar units, and he sends links to the possible options along with quotes before beginning a project.

Potential cost savings are a big attractant for potential customers, as are environmental impacts. Simpson says his system is 94 percent efficient, and can function on days with minimal sunlight. Customers often begin with just heating hot water, which Simpson says is about a quarter of most customer’s energy bills. If they’re interested, customers can also do heating and cooling systems, including radiant floor heat. Simpson says homeowners with pools are often attracted to solar energy.

For those considering making the switch to solar thermal energy, Simpson encourages them to do their homework. He suggests asking questions about permitting and what the installation process is, as this is an important safety step.

Important questions to ask include: What is the strategy to prevent overheating? How will the installed units look? What is the warranty if anything breaks? As satisfied customers are the core of Simpson’s business, he offers a 10-year warranty on panels.

And to ensure he’s doing everything he can to assist the customer he welcomes customer feedback.

To learn more about Renewable Energy NW visit renewableenergynwllc.com.

January Scam Wrap-Up

Scam Computer Key

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in January. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

This month there were 17 scams reported in Alaska with an estimated $6,100 lost.

Utility Scam

An Anchorage resident reported someone impersonated Municipal Light and Power in order to steal $300 from them. They claim they received a call from someone saying they needed to pay their electricity bill or they would be disconnected. The caller told them someone would be by their home in a few hours to disconnect the power if they didn’t pay up over the phone. After getting off the phone with the person the victim called back to say they were not with that utility company. The person on the other end of the phone preceded to pretend to be someone else. The Anchorage resident ceased communication.

Online Purchase Scam

An Anchorage man reported he lost $4,650 when he tried to purchase a Cockatoo for $1,400. The man claimed he was told to use United Pet Express to ship the bird. When he contacted the shipping company they informed him he needed to make a $2,400 deposit to cover any issues with delivery, which he did. Before the bird was shipped he was told he needed to pay $750 to cover the birds’ shots. Finally, he received a message from the “delivery man” stating he needed another $690 to drop off the bird and the refund. The man refused the pay any more money, and never received the bird.

OREGON

This month there were 83 scams reported in Oregon with an estimated $2,860 lost.

Counterfeit product

A Medford woman reports she lost $429 after she ordered two hoverboards from a California company for Christmas. The woman reports one of the hoverboards did not work. She called the company, but got a message stating the voicemail box was full. She emailed the company three times and got a response from customer service asking what was wrong with the machine. After explaining her problem, she never received a response. Her order did not come with a return address and repeated attempts to contact the company have not been answered.

Rental Home scam

A Gresham woman reported she lost $400 in a rental home scam. The woman reports she found a Craigslist ad for a rental house in Portland. The landlord said they lived in New York and requested she send a deposit via MoneyGram to his personal assistant and then he would send the keys. The women sent $400, but never received the keys.

IDAHO

This month there were 106 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Idaho with an estimated $17,775 lost.

Facebook friend scam

A Caldwell man reported a fake Facebook friend tried to con him out of thousands of dollars. The man states he received a message on Facebook from who appeared to be an old friend of his. The friend said he had won $150,000 through a Facebook contest and the Caldwell man was also listed as a winner. He was told to send a message to “Agent Terry Williams” with “Non-Governmental Organization.” The man did this and was told by the “agent” that in order to receive his funds he would need to pay up. The man states: “He then sent me a list of amounts I could claim as my winnings starting at $100,000 and going up to $600,000. The catch here is that you pay $1,050 to claim $100,00, up to $10,500 to claim $600,000.” He was also told he needed to keep the contest a secret. The man became suspicious and reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

Tax Collection scam

A Boise man reported he received an automated voice message claiming to be the IRS and he had a lawsuit and federal arrest warrant issued against him. He was told to call a number immediately. The man knew he did not have any legal action against him and did not call the number. He then reported the incident to BBB Scam Tracker.

MONTANA

This month there were 14 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Montana with an estimated $300 lost.

Passport service scheme

A Manhattan woman reported she lost $178 when she tried to expedite the passport process for her five-year-old. The woman used an online service that told her they could help rush the process on obtaining a passport for her child. However, after paying the fee she contacted the National Passport Information Center and was informed the child had to be present at the office in order to obtain a passport and the information she was receiving from the business was not accurate.

Online Windows Support scam

A Deer Lodge woman reported she was almost victim of a tech scam. The woman reports she was working on her computer when she received a notice with a Microsoft logo telling her she had a virus and to call 877-767-7342. The woman called the number and spoke to man named “Bruno Williams.” He asked to do a diagnostic test to her computer remotely. The woman became suspicious and hung up on the man.

WASHINGTON

This month there were 200 scams reported to Scam Tracker out of Washington with an estimated $9,600 lost.

Online pet purchase scam

A Spanaway woman reported she lost $505 in a pet purchase scam. The woman reports she purchased a puppy from http://www.modestshihtzu.com via MoneyGram. The woman states once the seller received the money they requested additional funds to transport the dog in a special crate. When she refused, the seller told her they would deliver a dead puppy at her doorstep. The woman ceased speaking with the seller, but have received threatening emails from them.

Pierce County Sheriff Imposter Scam

A Buckley woman reports she received a call from someone claiming to be with the Pierce County Sheriff. The woman reports she received a call from a “Lt. Parker” who told her a warrant had been issued for her arrest for failure to appear for a civil duty court in December. She became suspicious when the caller told her she needed to purchase $1,975 in MoneyPak cards and to call the “Sheriff’s Treasurer” to give them the confirmation numbers so she wouldn’t be arrested when she went to the sheriff’s office to sign some paperwork. The woman contacted her local police department and confirmed the call was a scam.

December Scam Wrap-Up

Sign Scam Represents Rip Off And Scams

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in December. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA 

This month there were eight scams reported in Alaska with an estimated $10,600 lost.

Lottery Winner Scam

An Anchor Point woman reported she received a notice in the mail stating she won an international lottery. The letter claimed she needed to travel to Madrid, Spain to collect the $4 million prize.

Debt Collection Scam

A woman from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson reported they were contacted by “CFS,” an unknown mediation firm attempting to collect debt from him. The debt collector stated he was hired by Midland Financial, but the woman reports she spoke with Midland Financial and they had no record of “CFS” or the man he spoke with.

OREGON 

This month there were 38 scams reported in Oregon with an estimated $14,000 lost.

Grandparent Scam

A Eugene man reported he was a target of the “family emergency” scam. The man reports he received a call from someone asking him if they knew who he was talking too. The man told the caller he thought they were his grandson. The caller said they were in fact his grandson and that he got into trouble in Florida. The caller said he needed assistance getting out of jail. The Eugene man called his actual grandson who told him he was not in Florida, but was in Oregon getting ready for work.

Yellow Pages Invoice Scam

A Portland woman reported she received a fake invoice from Yellow Pages Oregon. The woman reports the fax requested she verify her information for a free listing. The woman responded to the fax and a month later she received a $1,100 bill claiming she had signed a legally binding one-year advertising contract. The woman reports she still receives notices with additional fees added to the original bill.

MONTANA 

This month there were three scams reported in Montana with an estimated $550 lost.

Debt Collections Scam

A Missoula woman reported someone she knows received a call from a man claiming to be with the Consumer Assistance Bureau. The man called to claim a debt for her “elderly friend” that needed to be paid immediately or she would have to go to court and pay a $100 late fee. The woman reports the man threatened her and another person who called to check on him.

Online Purchase Scam

A Bozeman woman reported she lost $553.50 to an online purchase scam. The woman reports she purchased a trial of eye and face creams for $10.90. Afterward, she received the items again for five months, with costs totaling $553.50. The woman reports she did not agree to having the product sent monthly. The products arrived without paperwork, tracking number, confirmation number or receipt.

IDAHO 

This month there were 36 scams reported in Idaho with an estimated $675 lost.

Dish Network Scam

A Rigby woman reported she received a call from a Dish Network representative who offered to upgrade her service for free. She agreed and gave them the last four digits of her social security number to process the upgrade. Then they informed her she needed to send them $150. The woman hung up on the caller and called Dish Network and they told her someone was spoofing their phone number to convince people to give them money.

Breast Cancer Donation Scam

A Meridian woman reported someone by the name of “Sara” called her continuously for five weeks asking for donations to a cancer charity. They requested a $200 donation to be paid by credit or debit card. The woman asked the caller to send information about the charity, but they stated it costs money for stamps so they couldn’t send her anything. Eventually, the woman contacted the American Cancer Society and was told they do not call to solicit donations.

WASHINGTON 

This month there were 59 scams reported in Washington with an estimated $11,000 lost.

Lottery Scam

A Yakima man reported he received a letter stating he won $1.3 million. He was told he needed to send $12.99 cash, money order or check to receive the award. The man reports he did not enter a contest.

Grant Loan Scam

A Yakima woman reported she received a phone call from someone offering her an unsecured loan for $1,000. All she had to do was purchase a $120 Amazon gift card and call them back with the number. The woman did not buy the gift card.

WYOMING

This month there was one scam reported in Western Wyoming.

A Jackson woman reports she received a phone call from someone claiming to be collecting donations for Wyoming veterans. The woman had never heard of the charity and asked to be removed from their call list. The caller continues to call the woman asking for donations.

 

October Scam Wrap-up

Scam Computer Key

The following are scams that were reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest in October. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

Healthcare Scam

An Anchorage woman reported she was contacted about healthcare services that may have been a scam. She states she got a phone call from someone asking for her Medicaid information to see if she qualified for healthcare services. The woman believed the call to be a scam to obtain her personal information and reported the call to Scam Tracker.   

Lottery Scam

A Haines man reported he received a card in the mail stating he had an unclaimed reward worth up to $100. He was told to call a toll-free number to claim the winnings or they would be forfeited. He called the number and was told he needed to pay $4.95 over the phone with his credit card. They offered to drop the price to $2.95 since he was a senior. The man did not report whether he paid the charge, but he did report the incident to Scam Tracker.

IDAHO

Government Grant scam

An Idaho Falls man lost $2,300 in a government grant scam. The man states he was told to purchase two iTunes gift cards for $299 and $1,999 and read the numbers over the phone. The caller claimed this would release $11,800, which would be placed in his account. After doing this he was told he needed to purchase another one for $1,200. He has since quit communicating with the caller.

Jury Duty Scam

A Nampa man reported he lost $189.30 after he received a call from someone claiming there was a warrant out for his arrest for not reporting to jury duty. The man believed it to be true as he did ignore a jury duty notice. The man was told to purchase a Green Dot card at Walgreens for $189.30 and go to the Canyon County Court House. He purchased the cards and relayed the Green Dot card number to the caller. The caller told him the card did not work and he needed to go back and get another one. That is when the man realized it was not a legitimate call.

MONTANA

Medical Equipment Scam

A Belgrade Montana woman reports her mother lost $350 after she was contacted by a company selling medical alert systems. The woman states her mother paid $350 over the phone and never received the system. All calls made to the number go directly to voicemail.

Advertising Scam

A Great Falls woman reports the company HS Backers tried to sell her advertising on athletic scoreboards at local high schools. The company claimed to be representing Great Falls High School and C.M. Russell High School. The woman did not purchase advertising and later learned the company does not do business with those schools.

OREGON

Malware Scam

A Salem woman reported she lost $200 to a malware scam. She states she was using her laptop when a notice appeared on her screen advising her to call tech support. Her computer froze so she called the number. The person who answered claimed to be with JRG Ventures LLC. They told her she needed to pay $149.00 for a “one-time fix” and an additional $50 to help with any further issues.  She soon realized she downloaded malware and was tricked into paying for assistance.

Puppy Scam

A Coos Bay woman reported she lost $600 in a puppy scam. She states she purchased a St. Bernard puppy from www.maxwellsaintbernards.com. After making her payment she was told she needed to send $670 for pet insurance and travel. The company refused to refund her money and she ceased doing business with them.

WASHINGTON

Online Business Scam

A Kirkland man reported he lost $30 when an online business failed to send him his product. The company website, http://www.slumber.la, ceased communication with the man after his purchase failed to arrive.

Fake Kitten Adoption Scam

A Seattle man reported he came across a fraudulent cat adoption site. The man states the site www.kittensforadoption.us is a phishing scam posting fake numbers and cat pictures to obtain customers personal information.

Fish and Wildlife Hack in Idaho and Oregon

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The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Idaho Department of Fish and Game both reported there was “unauthorized access of the system” discovered around August 23. The data breaches are tied to Active Network, a company that owns and operates the licensing systems.

According to ODFW, the breach impacted records from before September 2007, for both resident and nonresident tags and licenses. Social Security numbers and credit card information wasn’t exposed, but information like driver’s license numbers, name, gender, date of birth, address, telephone and email were accessed, the site says.

Since the breach, license purchasing in both Oregon and Idaho has been limited as the departments ironed out the details. ODFW says licenses and tags may be purchased at their offices and hundreds of businesses statewide, and the department is updating its website regularly with information on alternative ways to apply for what you need this fall.

Active Network has said they will soon be contacting affected customers by mail. In the meantime, ODFW recommends license buyers assume their information was accessed and monitor their financial accounts and credit history for any signs of suspicious activity.

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest suggests doing the following:

  • Check financial accounts. Look at your bank, credit and debit card statements for any charges that aren’t yours, and make sure you report fraud to your bank right away.
  • Check your credit. Go to annualcreditreport.com from a secure WiFi connection. You will need to enter your Social Security number, so don’t do this from a public computer or WiFi. Each of the credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, give you a free look at your credit report annually. You can check one today, one in four months, and the third four months later so you are regularly seeing activity. You are looking for anything on that report that isn’t yours, and once again, report fraud right away.

For more information on spotting and recovering from identity theft, visit our website, bbb.org/northwest.

June Scams Roundup

Top Scams 2015

The following are some of the scams reported to Better Business Bureau Northwest during June. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

Employment Scam

An Anchorage resident reported they lost $3,440 after they were contacted by text message to attend a Google Hangouts job interview. The human resources woman said she was with “Ge Healthcare.” After the interview the Anchorage resident received a check for $2,550.77 and was told to deposit it in order to purchase the equipment they needed to begin working. The victim deposited the money and sent it to the woman with Ge Healthcare via Western Union. The victim continued to deposit checks for the woman until they were contacted by their bank and told the checks were counterfeit.

Publishing Clearing House

An Anchorage resident reported they were contacted by someone from “Publishing Clearing House” claiming they had won $1.5 million and a new car. The victim was told to bring their credit card and identification to a local grocery store to collect their prize. The Anchorage resident said the caller ID was from a number in Jamaica causing them to be suspicious. They did not meet the alleged scammer and reported the scam to BBB and ATT.

OREGON

Puppy Scam

A Brothers woman reported she lost $730 to a puppy scam. She reports she sent $730 to minifluffypoms.com for a mini Pomeranian. However, after she sent the money she was contacted by someone stating the papers weren’t right and she needed to send $1,500 for insurance and a shipping crate. The woman became suspicious with the caller and asked him where he was located. The man refused to give his location so the woman ceased speaking with him.

Government Grant Scam

A Springfield resident reported they were notified that they were the recipient of a free $8,700 government grant. In order for them to claim the grant they were told to release their checking account information for direct deposit or it could be sent via Western Union. Fortunately, the victim did not release any personal information.

MONTANA

Home Improvement Scam

A Winifred resident reported they were contacted by someone claiming to be from Energy Resources Consulting stating they had a contract to do work on the resident’s home. The victim states they never contacted the company. They also report their neighbors have received similar phone calls.

IDAHO

Paving Scam

A Sandpoint woman reported she lost $15,000 in a driveway paving scam. The woman states she received a postcard from Peters Paving. She called and set up an appointment, but the workers showed up during a different time when she was not home. The workers spoke with her husband who has Alzheimer’s/dementia. The woman states the job was supposed to be $4,500, but ended up costing $15,000. Her husband paid the workers despite not getting an estimate in writing. According to BBB investigations the company does not have a current contractor’s license in Washington or Idaho for paving.

Worldwide escapes LLC

A Boise woman reported she attended a timeshare presentation in Nampa, Idaho where Woldwide Escapes LLC offered to take over her timeshare with WorldMark if she paid the deed at $16,000. The woman reports she was told to take out a $10,000 credit card loan through Capitol One and put the other $6,000 on her own credit card. She is having trouble canceling the contract.

WASHINGTON

IRS iTunes Scam

An Addy woman reports she lost $7,000 to an IRS scam after she received a call from a man stating she was being audited. She was told if she didn’t pay them a warrant would be issued for her arrest. The victim purchased iTunes gift cards and used them to pay the listed amount. The woman reported the incident to her local sheriff’s department and BBB.

Tech Support Scam

A Walla Walla man reports they lost $800 to a tech support scam. They report they were contacted by John Connors via an internet popup, saying he had a computer virus. The man allowed the company access to the computer. Then he was told he was owed $200. The company deposited $1,000 into his bank account and he was to send $800 back to the company, which he did. The man ended up losing $800 of his money and has since reported the incident to his bank.

May Scams Roundup

Sign Scam Represents Rip Off And Scams

The following are some of the scams reported to Better Business Bureau Northwest during May. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

Online purchase

An Anchorage woman reported she lost $64.85 after placing an order for leggings through the site Fan Authentics. The woman states the company charged her credit card on March 24, 2016, but she has yet to receive her product. She has sent repeated messages to the company by phone, email and Facebook, but has received no response.

OREGON

Online purchase

A Medford woman reported she lost $800 when she attempted to adopt two dogs. The woman states she was told she needed to pay $2,000 for two Yorkies and a $75 adoption fee. She told the seller she could not cover the fee so they agreed to $800 for the transaction. The woman wired the money using Money Gram. She was then told the dogs required vaccines and she needed to pay $850 in order to get the dogs. She concluded doing business with the seller.

Craigslist purchase

A Nyssa man reported he lost $3,000 when he tried to purchase a 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sport on Craigslist. The man states the seller claimed to be the child of a service member stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base. He was told to pay with Vanilla One debit cards, but after he sent the money he never heard back from the seller.

IDAHO

Fake truck sale

An Idaho Falls woman reported she lost $4,905 when trying to purchase a truck online. She states she came across an ad on ksl.com for a truck that was listed way below the value price. The seller put her down as the buyer on what the woman claims was a false eBay motor invoice form. She was to pay $5,000 through Walmart gift cards. The woman states she was only able to send $4,905 to the seller who promptly drained the cards and ceased communicating with her. The ad was then pulled from ksl.com.

MONTANA

Debt collections

A Deer Lodge woman reported she lost $472 to a company called APE Processing, located in Duluth, Ga. Lost The woman claims the company called her mother and brother asking about a non-sufficient check and then a payday loan she received from an online company in 2010. The woman states she did get a payday loan in 2009, however it was paid back.  The caller tried to scare the woman by claiming she was being charged with a felony. The woman paid the company $472 to settle the debt, but then realized the call was a scam as all her debts had been settled and she never acquired a loan in 2010.

WASHINGTON

Employment scam

A Mercer Island woman reports her 92-year-old aunt was conned out of $9,500 by a phone salesman claiming to be working for Network Systems. The woman reported to Scam Tracker that the company sent her aunt letters requesting her signature about purchasing items for resale. The man going by the name of Dave Jackson asked her for her credit card number and convinced her she would be paid back within three months. However, after handing over her private information the woman learned the company did not exist and has yet to receive her money.

Creating a Joyful, Unique Wedding Ceremony

Written by Chelsea Maguire, E. Washington Regional Development Director

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of BBB’s online magazine Torch Talk. In the issue we featured BBB accredited business Joyous Vows of Idaho. CLICK HERE to read the full issue and to subscribe.

The dress. The ring. The first dance. Your wedding day is often one of the happiest days of your life. Wedding planning, on the other hand, may feel overwhelming with stress to create the perfect day. Amidst the chaos of choosing the flowers, caterer, location and music, couples often don’t consider the importance of the key person facilitating the ceremony – the officiant.

The officiant sets the tone and weaves the story of the couple’s relationship through the ceremony, creating a special moment for when they say, “I do.” This is what Dave Cavanaugh, owner of Better Business Bureau Accredited Business, Joyous Vows, loves about his role as officiant.

Joyous Vows Picture
Photo courtesy of Photography by Luba

“I get to work with couples and create something special that amplifies their joy and happiness, not only for the couple, but for their guests,” Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh came to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2013 from a career in high tech in Silicon Valley, California. He loved working with people and creating change by helping others be their best selves. Around the time he moved to North Idaho, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, allowing same sex marriages nationwide.

“If people really love each other and want to be committed to one another, I want to help create a positive force in their lives,” Cavanaugh said.

After the Ninth Circuit of Appeals struck down same-sex marriage bans in California, Idaho and Nevada in 2014 he became an ordained minister, started Joyous Vows and began officiating weddings for people of all walks of life in 2015.

Every couple’s story is different, and Cavanaugh vows to offer a custom experience showcasing the unique traits of each partner. As an independent officiant, he is flexible and offers multiple alternatives for each section of the wedding such as the specific vows, ring exchanges or a symbol of unity. He recalls a ceremony he facilitated for a couple where instead of using a traditional candle, they chose a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to display their partnership.

“It was a sweet – and delicious – way to show their personality,” Cavanaugh said.

Joyous Vows 1
Photo courtesy of Photography by Luba

Although Joyous Vows has facilitated more than a hundred successful weddings since its inception a year ago, not all wedding officiants have created this special experience for their couples.

“I’ve heard horror stories of ministers or other officiants flaking out and never showing up, or friends who have committed to officiating a wedding but back out last minute due to nerves,” Cavanaugh said. “I met a caterer that even became ordained after the fifth time she witnessed the officiant never showing up. You don’t want the officiant to be the center of attention on your special day.”

This inspired Cavanaugh to apply for BBB Accreditation last fall. He wanted to make sure potential customers knew they could trust him to follow through and provide a great experience for their wedding day.

“In an industry where you’re trying to catch people’s attention, there needs to be something there to differentiate you from the competition. I wanted to offer a level of confidence that when someone chooses me, they know I’m certifying that what I do is professional and will meet your needs,” Cavanaugh said.

Joyous Vows 2
Photo courtesy of Photography by Luba

Joyous Vows offered the following top three tips for couples looking for an officiant:

  • The chemistry needs to be right. Your officiant should match what you have in mind for the theme of your wedding. Whether you want your day to be traditional, formal, funny, unique or quirky, your officiant should have those same characteristics.
  • Look for someone with experience. Look for reviews or recommendations to make sure your officiant has been successful in the past. Check with BBB to see if they are accredited; the prestige of BBB behind them offers peace of mind, especially knowing they will resolve any issues if they arise.
  • Take the lead. You and your partner have the final say in how you want your wedding ceremony to look. Find someone who can help deliver the theme, mood and sentiments you Make sure your wants and needs are known so the experience can meet your vision.

To find a BBB Accredited officiant in your area, go to bbb.org.

April Scams Roundup

Top Scams 2015

The following are some of the scams reported to Better Business Bureau Northwest during April. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

Online purchase

An Alaska man reports he lost $35.99 at www.consogame.com. The man states he signed up and purchased a video game to play online, however he has yet to receive access. He states the company has ignored his emails and phone calls.

AKC Breeder

A Valdez man reports he bought an American Kennel Club (AKC) female German Shepard for $1,500 with AKC Jet Black German Shepherds on Craigslist. The fee included the AKC papers, first round of vaccinations and to have her dewclaws removed. After receiving his dog the man claims he never received the veterinarian records or the AKC paperwork. Additionally, the dog also still had its dewclaws. The man reports the breeder has not returned his phone calls.

IDAHO

Student loan scam

An Idaho woman reports she was contacted by the “Alumni Resource Center” and told they would be handling her student loan. She states the company told her she needed to make a down payment of $790. Later, she received emails from Navient stating she was late on her student loan payments. The Alumni Resource Center was based out of California and is believed to be out of business.

Warrant for arrest

BBB serving the Snake River has received reports of a phone scam going around Ada County. Scammers are calling Idaho residents threatening to arrest them because they have a warrant out for their arrest. The Ada County Sheriff’s Office states they will not call and ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone and is urging residents to call the SO if they believe they owe on a ticket or if they’ve received a threatening call.

MONTANA

Computer virus

A Bozeman man reports he received a pop-up from Support Buddy on his computer telling him to call a number to fix a virus problem. The man called the number, granted access to the computer and paid $180 to fix the problem. These types of calls are scams and can allow someone to gain access to your personal information.

Fake invoice

A Montana man reports he received a call, fax and email from Sorwall Corporate Business Publications out of Canada. The invoice was for $799.95 for listing in the corporate business directory. The man states he has no record of authorizing the transaction and has never seen the publication.

OREGON

Free trial offer

A Portland woman purchased an anti-aging cream advertised that it was endorsed by Dr. Mehmet Oz, Jennifer Aniston and Christie Brinkley. The offer was promoted as a free trial with a $4.95 shipping charge. The woman reports she never received the beauty cream, but was charged shipping and handling fees adding up to $46. The woman’s daughter tried calling the company, but the customer service professionals have refused to refund the money.

Credit repair

A Portland area woman reports she received a call from someone claiming to be with her Chase credit card company. The caller told her they could help her lower her interest rate, but she would have to pay $996 broken into four separate payments. The woman hung up on the scammer, but they called her back from a different number and told if she didn’t pay up they would be sending her to collections. Fortunately, the woman did not give the caller any money.

WASHINGTON

Clothing store deceptions

A Marysville woman contacted BBB after she claims she lost $28 to the clothing company Zaful.com. She reports she didn’t receive all of her order and the clothing she did receive was poor quality, wrong sizes and did not match the photos. She has been unable to get her money back from the company.

Fake dog breeder

A Spokane woman reported she was scammed after she tried to purchase Maltese puppies from beautifulmaltesebabies.com, a dog breeder out of Maryland. The breeder told her she could have the dog for $500, plus $200 for shipping. She was told to pay by MoneyGram. The woman agreed to pay half up front and then cover the other half once she received the dog. She gave the alleged breeder $400 up front, but never received the dog.

March Scams Roundup

Top Scams 2015

The following are some of the scams reported to Better Business Bureau Northwest during the month of March. In most instances names and locations have been omitted to protect the victims’ privacy.

ALASKA

Lottery/Sweepstakes Scam

An Alaska woman reported she received a phone call from a man identifying himself as “Michael Anderson” from a phone with a Jamaican area code. He told her he had a UPS package in Anchorage confirming she had won $5.5 million and a brand new Mercedes. Anderson gave the woman a story that he would bring the check to her and would be accompanied by two FBI agents and a lawyer. He proceeded to ask her questions about her marital status and employment. Anderson never met up with the woman, but did continue to call her. She ignored his phone calls until he stopped.

Tax Scam

An Alaska man reported he received a letter from The State of California Franchise Tax Board stating he owed back taxes from 2008. The man states he has been an Alaska resident since 2006. The letter listed a number that requested his social security number or they would seize his property.

OREGON

Garage Door Repair Scam

A Portland woman reports she hired a repair man from A Day & Night Garage Doors Repair to fix her garage door. After two days the man never finished the repair, but required she pay $650. The repairmen claimed he fixed the door, however the woman states she had to hire another repairman from a separate business in order to get her door fixed.

IDAHO

Government Grant Scam

An Idaho woman reported she lost $750 to a government grant scam. She said she was contacted by someone claiming she was chosen to receive a grant for $9,000. She was instructed to send $250 via Western Union, after she did that she was told she needed to send $500 in order for the Internal Revenue Service to release the money. After she deposited the additional money they again asked for $100.  The victim then asked for her money to be returned, but the caller refused.

Craigslist Scam

A Boise man reported he lost $3,500 to a Craigslist Scam. The man reports he responded to a posting on Craigslist of a 2006 Toyota Tacoma that was for sell through eBay Motors. The man was informed by the seller that he needed to make a $2,000 down payment using “One Vanilla” cards. He would then be required to pay an additional $1,500 to finalize the transaction. The Boise man purchased $3,500 worth of the cards and sent it to the man. When the seller requested more money, the victim ceased conducting business with him.

WASHINGTON

Sweepstakes Scam

An Everett woman reported she was notified she had won $150,000, but was told she had to pay a $1,500 custom fee to receive her winnings. She ended up losing $635 to the scheme when she tried to pay the fees to get the winnings.

Instagram Scam

A Lakewood man reported he lost $323.75 after he ordered a pair of shoes and belt from an Instagram user. He spoke to the seller over the phone and was told he’d be receiving a tracking number from USPS. The victim never received the tracking number or the order.

Government Grant Scam

A Seattle area woman reported she lost a little more than $3,400 to a government grant scam. She reports she was contacted multiple times the week of March 22 by someone claiming to be from the U.S. Department of Government Grants. The man, who identified himself as” Gary Watson,” claimed she would be receiving a grant check. In order for her to get the money she was pressured into making multiple deposits to the agency via Western Union.