How Do I Check If a Business Is Legitimate?

Written by christopher carter
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How Do I Check If a Business Is Legitimate?
Look up information on the BBB's website (Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Before you give a business your money, you might want make sure it's legitimate, especially if it's an online store. You don't want to hand over any of your hard-earned cash and not get anything in return, whether it's goods or services. You'll also want to research any company in which you are considering investing. Thankfully, there are several ways to verify the legitimacy of a business.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Contact the Better Business Bureau. The BBB provides consumers and other interested parties with information about various companies in the United States. The Better Business Bureau allows users to check the legitimacy of a business on the BBB website. Search businesses by name, city, state, phone number, business type, URL or e-mail address.The BBB also grades companies on a scale of A through F, and lists any complaints or government actions against a company.

  2. 2

    Check with Dunn and Bradstreet. Many businesses, particularly larger firms, are registered with Dunn and Bradstreet. Dunn and Bradstreet provides consumers and other interested parties with credit information regarding corporations and other businesses. Verify the legitimacy of a business by inputting the name and state of the business into the search box.

  3. 3

    Contact the consumer affairs department in the state where the company operates. You can find consumer complaints that may have been filed against a company. The consumer affairs department in your state will likely have a website that provides information such as fraud alerts and newsletters.

  4. 4

    Check with the secretary of state's office to determine if a business appears as a registered entity of the state. Corporations and LLCs must be registered in the state where the business operates. Most states have a website where you can search for a business name.

  5. 5

    Type the business name in a search engine. Looking at a company's website provides more background about the business and can help you confirm whether the business is legitimate or not. Typing a business name into a search engine using quotations and adding words such as scam or complaint may help verify if a business has complaints against the company, according to the Technical Writing Zone website.

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