I stumbled upon something unexpected recently.

I was working on a story and doing a little background research. I ended up on the Montana Department of Justice website, specifically, the Consumer Protection site and I noticed a feature I'd never seen before.

Look Up Information About Montana Businesses

If you scroll the page you'll see some quick links and on the far right there's an option titled: "Prior Complaints Against a Business."

I was curious, so on a whim, I thought about a large purchase that I'd made from a business in Montana and for the sake of experiment, typed the business name into the search. The business not only came up, but the information indicated there had been multiple complaints made against the business.

The information wasn't detailed; it only listed the number of complaints, not the type or nature of the complaints. But the Consumer Protection site, among other things, looks into "deceptive business practices."

Is Age a Factor in Knowing About This Resource?

As an "elder millennial" I can spot a phishing email pretty easily. I don't answer spam calls and so far, I haven't been tricked into giving out any personal information over the phone (so far). But all these examples of "deceptive business practices" aren't local, and in some cases, are only online. It never occurred to me to research the businesses I patronize in Montana, and I feel a bit naive. I'll admit, it's one of those things I've always kind of just used my intuition about. After my recent discovery, I might have to change my ways.

Another Resource for Researching Businesses

The Better Business Bureau is another option for researching businesses that operate, as they say, with "honesty and integrity." Here, businesses have the option to be accredited with the BBB.

Again, if you are making a sizeable purchase--major furniture, home renovations, recreation vehicles, and automobiles, it might be worth typing in the business name into one of these sites to see what comes up.

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