BBB Warns Football Fans


Staff Report



Planning a Trip? BBB Wants You to Avoid Headaches

Columbus, OH - The time for spring break and planning summer getaways is upon us.

Whether you’re a college student planning a spring break trip or a family looking to book your next summer vacation, budgets can be tight, and travelers are usually looking for deals on flights and accommodations. During this high travel period, BBB offers the following tips to make sure you don’t run into any road bumps while traveling:

Be wary of travel deals that seem too good to be true. Be cautious of deals that offer packages that seem like an outstanding bargain (five-star hotels, premium airline tickets, etc) but require immediate payment. If a site is offering a hotel deal, take time to call the actual hotel to verify that the company offering the deal has a relationship with the hotel and make sure the room exists.

Get details about your trip in writing. Be sure to confirm the names of the hotels and airlines, total cost of both, any restrictions that may apply, flights and hotel reservations and car rental. Don’t rely only on the receipt or confirmation email; call to confirm all arrangements in advance.

BBB advises prospective travelers to only deal with reputable agents or sites when booking travel, and to carefully check reservation policies and other fine print before booking deals. Package deals may be touted as “all-inclusive,” but be sure you understand exactly what is included. Travelers can find trustworthy companies to work with at bbb.org or bbbtravelhelp.com.

Pay with a credit card. Paying by credit card offers the most consumer protection, should you need to challenge the charges.

Consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance provides coverage for particular perils which are specific conditions under which it will pay claims, such as trip cancellations or medical emergencies. The U.S. Travel Insurance Association maintains a list of licensed travel insurance companies. Certain travel companies have different policies and levels of coverage based on whether you purchase the car rental, flight or hotel. Be sure to shop around and read the terms and conditions before purchasing.

Be wary of claims that you “won” a trip. Unsolicited mail, email and websites saying you have “won a trip” may be scams. If you’ve really won a free vacation, a legitimate business won’t ask you to pay any upfront or processing fees.

Be mindful of your social media posts. It’s hard to resist posting pictures of beautiful scenery and fun times, but doing so has the potential to inform scammers and thieves that you are not at home and can open up the possibility of home or identity theft.

Parents and other relatives should also be on guard if they get calls supposedly coming from students stranded in distant locations, as this can be a scam as well. This so-called “relative scam” usually starts with a call from someone claiming to be a person you know (often a child or grandchild), who is stranded or needs money to get out of jail or deal with another emergency.

If you get such a call, resist any request to send money immediately. Ask for a contact phone number, and then check with other relatives to determine if there is indeed a chance a family member is stranded. A request for you to send money through any alternative payment methods, such as a wire transfer or prepaid card, is often a scam.

If planning ahead isn’t for you, and you want to take a last minute trip, there are still ways to be safe. Let a family member or close friend know where you are going, how to contact you, and an idea of your itinerary. Before you leave, make sure that you have a map of the area you are visiting, GPS, and a way to charge your smartphone. Finally, vacationers should really avoid traveling alone in order to have the safest trip possible.

Travelers can check bbb.org for Business Profiles on trustworthy companies.

Beware of Suspicious Apparel Websites

Columbus – Want to show support for your favorite team by purchasing their gear? Your Better Business Bureau is warning fans to beware of lookalike or suspicious websites when ordering sports apparel or other merchandise online. BBB recently became aware of Champs Apparel, a website claiming to offer licensed NFL apparel at a discount.

The fake address listed on their website actually belongs to a Columbus private school, but their domain registration address is in New York. In December, their website was www.champsapparel.com. Now inactive, the scammers are currently using the new domain champsapparelstore.com to offer items such as an “authentic” Ezekiel Elliott color rush jersey for $69.99. The low price is a significant discount from a similar Ezekiel Elliott player jersey selling in an NFL shop for $124.99. BBB has written to the NFL to notify them of the trademark infringement.

A student attending Ole Miss told BBB his mom went to Champs Apparel online to order the Ezekiel Elliott jersey for his Christmas present. She then received an email indicating technical difficulties with champsapparel.com and redirecting her to champsapparelstore.com instead. Suspicious, she checked her credit card statement, which showed the payment was made to a Jinshou Zhaoxin Ltd. The student said his mother hasn’t received the jersey and is disputing the charge with her credit card company.

According to their About Us page, Champs Apparel “only sells 100% authentic apparel. No variants or B-grades.” Since none of the consumers who filed complaints with BBB received their orders from the website, BBB cannot verify this. Other language on the site also offers a tip-off that they are not official. A frequently asked questions page uses terms like “whilst” and “despatched”.

BBB offers the following advice when shopping online for authentic sports apparel and related products:

  • Watch out for too-good-to-be-true pricing. Fake websites advertise cheap prices as a way to attract and encourage consumers to “purchase” their products and provide sensitive information. In many of these cases, either the items do not exist or they are counterfeit and of poorer quality than officially licensed merchandise.
  • Look for contact information. Find out the business name, physical address, phone number and email address and verify that the physical address matches the business name. If no contact information or verifiable business information is listed, it’s a red flag. Make sure you read the terms and conditions of sale carefully before placing an order.
  • Know the seller. Research the company if you’ve never made a purchase on the website before. Check out the company on bbb.org and conduct a Google search on the website name and the word “scam.” If the website is claiming to be an official site, authorized to sell licensed products, confirm this directly with the team, league or source it is claiming to be authorized by.
  • Check website security. Before making an online purchase, check the URL of the page you’re entering contact and financial information. If the URL doesn’t start with “https” your information could be exposed to con artists or hackers. A security enabled web page will begin with “https,” instead of just “http” and will likely have a lock symbol that displays as green to verify security. Always pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the charge later.
  • Keep a clean machine. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet and smartphone.

For more information on finding businesses you can trust, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org. To find or report scams in your area, visit BBB Scam Tracker.

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Staff Report

Planning a Trip? BBB Wants You to Avoid Headaches

Columbus, OH – The time for spring break and planning summer getaways is upon us.

Whether you’re a college student planning a spring break trip or a family looking to book your next summer vacation, budgets can be tight, and travelers are usually looking for deals on flights and accommodations. During this high travel period, BBB offers the following tips to make sure you don’t run into any road bumps while traveling:

Be wary of travel deals that seem too good to be true. Be cautious of deals that offer packages that seem like an outstanding bargain (five-star hotels, premium airline tickets, etc) but require immediate payment. If a site is offering a hotel deal, take time to call the actual hotel to verify that the company offering the deal has a relationship with the hotel and make sure the room exists.

Get details about your trip in writing. Be sure to confirm the names of the hotels and airlines, total cost of both, any restrictions that may apply, flights and hotel reservations and car rental. Don’t rely only on the receipt or confirmation email; call to confirm all arrangements in advance.

BBB advises prospective travelers to only deal with reputable agents or sites when booking travel, and to carefully check reservation policies and other fine print before booking deals. Package deals may be touted as “all-inclusive,” but be sure you understand exactly what is included. Travelers can find trustworthy companies to work with at bbb.org or bbbtravelhelp.com.

Pay with a credit card. Paying by credit card offers the most consumer protection, should you need to challenge the charges.

Consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance provides coverage for particular perils which are specific conditions under which it will pay claims, such as trip cancellations or medical emergencies. The U.S. Travel Insurance Association maintains a list of licensed travel insurance companies. Certain travel companies have different policies and levels of coverage based on whether you purchase the car rental, flight or hotel. Be sure to shop around and read the terms and conditions before purchasing.

Be wary of claims that you “won” a trip. Unsolicited mail, email and websites saying you have “won a trip” may be scams. If you’ve really won a free vacation, a legitimate business won’t ask you to pay any upfront or processing fees.

Be mindful of your social media posts. It’s hard to resist posting pictures of beautiful scenery and fun times, but doing so has the potential to inform scammers and thieves that you are not at home and can open up the possibility of home or identity theft.

Parents and other relatives should also be on guard if they get calls supposedly coming from students stranded in distant locations, as this can be a scam as well. This so-called “relative scam” usually starts with a call from someone claiming to be a person you know (often a child or grandchild), who is stranded or needs money to get out of jail or deal with another emergency.

If you get such a call, resist any request to send money immediately. Ask for a contact phone number, and then check with other relatives to determine if there is indeed a chance a family member is stranded. A request for you to send money through any alternative payment methods, such as a wire transfer or prepaid card, is often a scam.

If planning ahead isn’t for you, and you want to take a last minute trip, there are still ways to be safe. Let a family member or close friend know where you are going, how to contact you, and an idea of your itinerary. Before you leave, make sure that you have a map of the area you are visiting, GPS, and a way to charge your smartphone. Finally, vacationers should really avoid traveling alone in order to have the safest trip possible.

Travelers can check bbb.org for Business Profiles on trustworthy companies.

For more information, visit BBB’s Travel Help Center and BBB Scam Tracker,, and follow BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.

For more information, visit BBB’s Travel Help Center and BBB Scam Tracker,, and follow BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.