BBB: research before responding to coronavirus-themed advertising

BBB: Watch out for job scams
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Posted at 9:06 AM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 11:06:15-04

BOISE, Idaho — With many businesses changing their models or new businesses being created to fit coronavirus concerns, you'll likely notice a shift in advertising. The Better Business Bureau is asking you to do your research before you respond to COVID-19-themed ads.

In the Treasure Valley, BBB Northwest and Pacific's Chief Innovation Officer Dale Dixon says he recently noticed a sign along the Greenbelt, offering "ozone fumigation." The sign featured limited details but didn't include the name of the company.

"Better Business Bureau investigators went, called the business, had a conversation, and basically, the business is connecting some data points on cleaning practices and procedures about how to clean a home and applied that to coronavirus," explained Dixon. "We're still asking people to do their research, and be careful through this process."

Dixon says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency have both shared recommendations for cleaning products that have been proven to kill MERS and SARS. So far, they haven't tested anything specific for COVID-19 so their websites feature disclaimers that the listed cleaning products "may" work.

"It's important to remember: knowledge about COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. The first paragraph of the EPA website says 'transmission of novel coronavirus to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented,'" said Dixon.

If you find yourself tempted into buying a product or using a service based off coronavirus-themed advertisement, Dixon suggests making sure you do your research first.

"Don't just take something at face value when you see it posted online, see it on a social media feed, see it when you're walking down the Greenbelt. We're asking that you basically do what we've done, and that's just do your research, checking out the business," said Dixon. "Looking to see if there's science to back up the claim that's being made in the advertisement."

Dixon adds businesses should be transparent about their services and offer evidence to support any claims being made in their advertisements.

Consumers are asked to check the reputation of the business involved through the BBB website here. BBB has more resources to help businesses and consumers navigate the pandemic here.