A new company based in Jacksonville is working to help protect you from scammers when making important purchases online.
Fireball Approves launched in August 2017 with the aim of protecting consumers who are buying or renting vehicles, boats, or RVs online. The company seeks to counteract the unfortunate – and fast-growing – trend of online scamming.
Tammy Sorrento, an insurance professional and long-time resident of the Mandarin neighborhood, started the company after almost falling victim to an online scammer. Sorrento was trying to book a rental home on Craigslist, but the “property owner” started acting increasingly sketchy.
“The scammer instructed me to cancel the deposit and resubmit to a different email address,” Sorrento explains. “I declined because I was not 100% positive I was corresponding with the actual homeowner.”
Sorrento also spoke to a previous customer whose contact information was offered by the “property owner” as a reference; that customer “explained how she and her husband came from Chicago on New Years Eve weekend and was stranded.”
“So, even though I dodged a bullet by listening to my intuition,” Sorrento says, “I felt something could be done to circumvent dealing with scammers.”
This prompted Sorrento to reach out to a leading nationwide data provider with the idea that would ultimately become Fireball Approves.
The company offers confirmation of ownership and seller information for consumers looking to rent or purchase vehicles, boats, RVs, or anything similar. This helps to eliminate the risk of dealing with someone who doesn’t own the property they’re trying to sell, or someone who’s trying to sell you something that was stolen.
They verify vehicle identification numbers (VIN) and serial numbers – and they notify the owner and police when a number marked as stolen pops up.
Property owners can also apply for “Fireball Approved” status that serves as a guarantee for potential customers. Fireball Approved properties are also listed on the company’s website.
Since launching, the company has also begun offering verification of contractors’ credentials for businesses.
During their current startup phase, the company is offering all of its services completely free of charge. Once they do begin charging, though, Sorrento says the prices will be a fraction of the cost of using online reservation sites.