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If you’ve been participating in penny auctions for any significant length of time, you’ve probably encountered a fraudulent penny auction website. Unfortunately, new markets always attract a few shady characters. The penny auction industry is no exception.

To make matters worse, penny auctions are a relatively new phenomenon, so there’s no official body for penny auction accreditation. That means it’s the responsibility of bidders to promote safe penny auctions and hold fraudulent sites accountable.

There is a flip-side, however. At the Penny Auction List, we believe that penny auction owners should be as transparent as possible. This means that owners should go out of their way to prove they offer a fair bidding environment and a commitment to customer service. We have some suggestions on how to make this happen, and one of those steps includes Better Business Bureau accreditation. The BBB only accredits businesses that agree to:

  1. Build trust
  2. Advertise honestly
  3. Tell the truth
  4. Be transparent
  5. Honor promises
  6. Be responsive
  7. Safeguard privacy
  8. Embody integrity

As of September 2010, only a handful of penny auctions have taken this extra step of accountability. They include:

We recently interviewed Joe Crivello, COO of SkoreIt, and asked him why SkoreIt decided to pursue BBB accreditation. His response echoes some of our earlier sentiments:

We believe that it is critically important that the industry self-regulate. The BBB is synonymous with fair business and trust in the marketplace; an earned status that has been established over nearly a century of commitment to their principles.

Consumers know that when dealing with BBB accredited businesses they have a time-tested and objective dispute resolution process to fall back on. Further, they know that the BBB ensures that it’s accredited businesses eschew deceptive practices and are reliable members of the community.

SkoreIt understands that bidders and owners both benefit from BBB accreditation.

We also interviewed Jill Farrand, Director of Public Relations at Quibids. When asked if she thought that all penny auctions should pursue BBB accreditation, Ms. Farrand was very clear:

…all honest, ethical and hard-working penny auction sites should pursue BBB accreditation. It shows that respective company is seeking additional ways to verify itself and that it takes its business seriously.

BBB accreditation doesn’t guarantee that site is safe to bid on (see the BBB disclaimer), but we do believe it is one way penny auctions can show their commitment to honest business practices. They won’t be BBB accredited for long if they refuse to address deficiencies.

To learn more about the Better Business Bureau, visit their website or follow @BBB_us on Twitter.