By Carol Potter
President & CEO, Better Business Bureau
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The BBB of the Mahoning Valley respects the resiliency of small businesses. While the economic impact of COVID-19 is undeniable, businesses are adapting to a new normal. Trust has never been more important. BBB has been committed to providing support for businesses through trust and cooperation since its founding in 1974.
In 2020, over 1,000 local businesses maintained their commitment to ethical enterprise through the BBB. With this support, BBB adapted quickly to remote operations in March. The BBB staff of four maintained all services except walk-in office visits.
Times of stress and economic uncertainty bring with them malicious scam and fraud attacks. Common attacks continued to involve phony cures and masks, stimulus check scams, government impersonations, fake employment offers, and vaccine fraud.
BBB ScamTracker shows that COVID-related scams come from attacks on websites 39% of the time, social media 26% of the time, and emails 17%.
In June, more than 14.7 million users visited BBB.org to search for trustworthy businesses, access resources, and read about pressing consumer needs.
Site traffic surged more than 40% – a testament to how high trust ranks among consumers. BBB accredited businesses committed to meeting the BBB Standards for Trust saw considerably more online engagement on BBB.org than unaccredited companies, including website visits, email clicks and customer reviews.
On average an accredited business received 163 inquiries per year versus 24 inquiries for an unaccredited company.
Throughout 2020, BBB advised its companies that the greatest lesson COVID can teach us is the importance of building trust by looking out for both employees and customers. Loyalty grows whenever a company steps up and creates policies for health and safety measures, ensures onsite and online safety, and improves communication lines for inquiries, requests and special accommodations.
Although the pandemic forced the cancellation of the Torch Awards for Marketplace Trust, thanks to support from Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC and Farmers Trust Co., BBB provided five high school seniors with $1,000 scholarships at a presentation held at Sweeney Buick GMC.
This year’s scholarships will be awarded July 14 at Sweeney Buick GMC. The 2021 Torch Awards will be held Sept. 23 at the Lake Club.