Be Wary of Scammers Pretending to be Real Businesses


Staff Reports



Consumers Left to Wonder “What Now” When Retailers Close

When a retailer closes their doors, customers are often left confused and wondering what will happen to purchases they’ve paid for but haven’t received. The same applies in situations where warranties or unused gift cards are involved. BBB has advice for consumers regarding steps they can take if a retailer goes out of business.

The Limited, a local brand for over 50 years, announced at the end of 2016 that they would file bankruptcy and close their retail stores. This news garnered some questions from consumers about what to do about outstanding orders and gift cards.

What Happens to Outstanding Orders?

As of January 23, The Limited’s website, thelimited.com, states that all sales were final as of December 14, 2016, they can no longer accept any orders, and any order that has been placed but that has not yet been shipped will be cancelled. If a consumer placed an order, visit The Limited’s website to find out more information on the status of the order.

What About Gift Cards?

When a company files Chapter 11 bankruptcy like The Limited has, it allows the company to continue operations while it reorganizes for future stability. If a company files for Chapter 11 protection, they will often still redeem gift cards, fulfill services and deliver on goods. When a company files for bankruptcy, they can only honor gift cards if the court allows it.

To avoid problems, BBB advises that consumers redeem gift cards as soon as possible. If you are left with what seems like a useless gift card, debt.org suggests trying some of the following:

  • If you purchased the gift card from a third party vendor, contact the vendor. They may allow you to redeem the card at another store.
  • If you paid for the gift card with a credit card, contact your credit card company. In some cases, consumer protection laws may allow you to receive a refund.
  • Try using the gift card at a former competitor. The competing store has no obligation to honor the card and may not even have the means to do so. However, in some cases, stores accept their competitors’ gift cards or give you discounts in exchange for them. In these ways, they try to earn you as a customer.
  • Hold on to the gift card. Even though they may be useless right now, some companies emerge from bankruptcy and resume business. It’s possible that if that happens, they will honor gift cards from prior to the bankruptcy.

Customers in these situations can also file complaints with BBB and/or the FTC at ftc.gov.

Columbus – BBB emphasizes the importance of protecting your personal information all year long, but what if a business’s ID is stolen? Business identity theft not only affects the company, but consumers as well.

Local BBB Accredited Business Anonymous Insights reports their name has been hijacked in a nationwide scam. Owner Patti Lengel told BBB that fake letters and checks have been sent to consumers throughout the country using Anonymous Insights’ information, asking consumers to mystery shop at Target for a salary and evaluate their experience. The letter instructs consumers to deposit a check into their checking account, and then text a number using the term “FUNDS AVAILABLE”.

The scam is more complicated than usual, because Anonymous Insights does offer mystery shopping to their clients. However, their process is vastly different than what is described in the fake letter. Anonymous Insights will work directly with their clients to develop a mystery shopper program and send trained shoppers into their businesses for an evaluation.

Ms. Lengel has reached out to some victims to let them know the letter is a scam. She is now referring any consumers who have received the letter to BBB serving Central Ohio. An alert has also been placed on her BBB Business Profile letting consumers know that her company’s name is being misused.

If you are a business who experiences identity theft, consider these BBB tips:

  • Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement, the FBI’s cybercrime division and BBB.
  • Create a response policy. As part of your public response consider posting a warning on your company website.
  • If a deceptive website is involved, work to get it shut down. Once identified and documented that a site treads on your business name, notify the web host to shut it down. Host information is available with a networksolutions.com/whois search of the web address.

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 Reports

Consumers Left to Wonder “What Now” When Retailers Close

When a retailer closes their doors, customers are often left confused and wondering what will happen to purchases they’ve paid for but haven’t received. The same applies in situations where warranties or unused gift cards are involved. BBB has advice for consumers regarding steps they can take if a retailer goes out of business.

The Limited, a local brand for over 50 years, announced at the end of 2016 that they would file bankruptcy and close their retail stores. This news garnered some questions from consumers about what to do about outstanding orders and gift cards.

What Happens to Outstanding Orders?

As of January 23, The Limited’s website, thelimited.com, states that all sales were final as of December 14, 2016, they can no longer accept any orders, and any order that has been placed but that has not yet been shipped will be cancelled. If a consumer placed an order, visit The Limited’s website to find out more information on the status of the order.

What About Gift Cards?

When a company files Chapter 11 bankruptcy like The Limited has, it allows the company to continue operations while it reorganizes for future stability. If a company files for Chapter 11 protection, they will often still redeem gift cards, fulfill services and deliver on goods. When a company files for bankruptcy, they can only honor gift cards if the court allows it.

To avoid problems, BBB advises that consumers redeem gift cards as soon as possible. If you are left with what seems like a useless gift card, debt.org suggests trying some of the following:

  • If you purchased the gift card from a third party vendor, contact the vendor. They may allow you to redeem the card at another store.
  • If you paid for the gift card with a credit card, contact your credit card company. In some cases, consumer protection laws may allow you to receive a refund.
  • Try using the gift card at a former competitor. The competing store has no obligation to honor the card and may not even have the means to do so. However, in some cases, stores accept their competitors’ gift cards or give you discounts in exchange for them. In these ways, they try to earn you as a customer.
  • Hold on to the gift card. Even though they may be useless right now, some companies emerge from bankruptcy and resume business. It’s possible that if that happens, they will honor gift cards from prior to the bankruptcy.

Customers in these situations can also file complaints with BBB and/or the FTC at ftc.gov.

For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.

For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.