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Better Business Bureau Caseload Boomed In 1996

The Better Business Bureau last year helped 1.8 million U.S. consumers resolve complaints, which were up 21 percent over 1995, according to a new report by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

More than 11 million consumers also requested information from the 152 BBB offices across the country. Businesses generating the most complaints in 1996 were franchised auto dealers, auto repair shops, and home furnishing stores.

The Better Business Bureau of the Inland Northwest fielded 700 complaints in 1996, Executive Director Lisa Stephens said.

The bureau also handled 40,000 requests for services and information.

For more information about the BBB, check the group’s Web site at

On long end of a short sale?

When you short a stock, how is your gain taxed?

Tax questions relating to short-selling strategies can be complicated, but the simple answer to the question is that you realize a short-term capital gain taxed at ordinary income rates if you close out a successful short sale, said Morgan Pearsall, a senior personal financial counselor for Ernst & Young. Short selling involves selling borrowed stock in the hope you can buy back the stock at a lower price to repay the loan.

Investor educators on the Web

The Alliance for Investor Education has introduced a new Web site that includes basic consumer information about stocks, bonds, mutual funds, as well as more detailed instructions on how to read annual reports and pick a broker. The alliance was established last year and has 17 members including the Investment Company Institute, the National Association of Securities Dealers and major stock exchanges. Check the site at

Control holiday spending

“Managing Your Holiday Spending,” a free brochure from the American Financial Services Association’s Education Foundation, gives tips on how to keep your holiday spending on gifts and decorations under control.

For a copy write to AFSA Education Foundation, 919 18th Street NW, Dept. C, Washington D.C. 20006-5503.