Pittsburgh, PA – April 19, 2012 – The Better Business Bureau of Western PA’s Hot Topics is a monthly alert regarding companies across all industries that are currently targeting Western Pennsylvania consumers. The Hot Topics list and information is also available on the BBB website under the News Center.
According to Warren King, President of the Better Business Bureau, “The BBB’s goal in creating Hot Topics is to help educate and protect the marketplace from businesses targeting local consumers.”
The following report is based on your BBB’s research as of April 19, 2012 and includes information received at our office on companies marketing to local Pennsylvanians. Click on the company name for an updated BBB report. Please take into consideration the importance of the practice and total performance of the company. To access over four million companies nationwide, visit www.bbb.org.
- AMT Auditing Services –Forensic loan audits
An F rated company based out of Utah, AMT Auditing Services has failed to respond to 32 out of 38 complaints closed with the BBB in the last 12 months. The company sends notices to consumers stating they may be owed a refund of several thousand dollars from their mortgage lender. For $249, the company performs a review of the payments made to a mortgage lender. Consumers are asked to sign up for a trial subscription of the business’s debt cancellation program after which a monthly subscription fee is charged. Complaints received by BBB allege that consumers do not remember signing up for the debt cancellation program, refunds are not sent in a timely manner and customer service is slow in resolving issues regarding the monthly fee or credits/refunds. Mr. Colton Moody who is listed under the company’s business management is also a principal of The Summit Group of Utah LLC, which has an F rating with the BBB and had government action taken against it by the Utah Division of Consumer Protection in 2009.
- Houston Passport & Visa Specialists, LLC – Passport and Visa services
Based out of Texas, Houston Passport & Visa Specialists, LLC has an F rating with the BBB and had 49 complaints closed in the last 3 years. The company has also had 8 complaints filed against it that were not resolved. Alternate business names for Houston Passport & Visa Specialists, LLC are Passport & Visa Specialists, US Birth Certificate and usbirthcertificate.com. This company provides birth certificates and passport services, including limited passports, passport renewals and expediting birth certificates.
- Jefferson High School Online– Correspondence schools
Previously featured in the July 2009 BBB Hot Topics, this F rated company based out of Arizona has had 58 complaints closed with the BBB in the last 3 years. The company has also failed to obtain a required competency license. Complainants alleged that they passed Jefferson High School Online’s test and paid more than $200 to receive a high school diploma. When the students tried to enroll in college using the diploma, they were told that it was not valid. The company is owned by MMDS Ltd., based out of St. Kitts in the eastern Caribbean. Visit www.bbb.org for BBB tips on choosing a reputable online degree program.
- One Technologies, L.P. – Internet marketing services
One Technologies, L.P. is based out of Texas and has an F rating with the BBB due to 760 complaints filed against the business in the last 3 years, 14 serious complaints and advertising issues found by BBB. For a monthly fee, this company provides services, such as credit score monitoring. They also offer a 7 day trial period at no charge. Complaints claim there is confusion about the company’s 7 day trial period offer and that they did not understand they were agreeing to a monthly membership. In 2009, BBB contacted One Technologies, L.P. to ask the company to modify its advertising in order to make its “free trial” offers more clear and conspicuous. The company previously agreed to increase the prominence of its disclosures. However, it has failed to modify its advertising to adhere to BBB’s Code of Advertising.
- SaveMore.com– Internet shopping daily deal site
An F rated company based out of Texas, SaveMore.com has had 1,250 complaints closed with the BBB in the last 12 months and the company has failed to respond to 1,024 complaints filed against the business. General complaints from consumers are regarding slow or non-delivery of ordered merchandise, dissatisfaction with customer service, difficulty with refunds and cancelling accounts and difficulty stopping emails. According to BBB files, Save More lists Augur Inc. as business management, which lists the company owner as Mr. Doug Van Arsdale. Previously, Mr. Van Arsdale was the owner of Credit Solutions of America, which has an F rating with the BBB and had charges filed against it by the Attorney Generals of Texas, New York, Maine and Missouri. For more BBB tips on internet shopping, visit www.bbb.org.
- TaxMasters – Tax consultants and representatives
TaxMasters has had 1,077 complaints closed with the BBB in the last 3 years and has an F rating. The company failed to respond to 126 complaints and did not resolve 396 complaints. Complainants allege they are required to pay for the company’s service before the company releases a copy of the contract and their policies for the consumer to review and sign. Numerous complaints also allege that after collecting an advance fee, TaxMasters failed to provide the promised tax relief and refused to refund the advance fee consumers paid them. On March 30, 2012, TaxMasters and its Founder were ordered to pay over $195 million for defrauding customers nationwide by the Attorney General of Texas. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection one day before the jury trial was set to begin. View BBB’s tips on choosing a trustworthy tax preparer.
About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 116 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.