Checking the credibility of a business is an important first step in building a working relationship with any company. Although most companies look good on TV, in sales fliers and on the Internet, advertisements typically provide consumers with only basic -- and most positive -- information. Getting to know the people, products and track record of the business you are considering patronizing increases the likelihood that you will get what you pay for.

Contact the Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau exists to create an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers trust one another and consumers have confidence in the companies they do business with. Checking with the BBB on the credentials of a particular business before buying products, using services or entering into any business agreements helps ensure a trustworthy relationship.

Read Consumer Reviews

Most people are happy to talk about their experiences with a particular company, whether good or bad. And reading what others think about products and services is easier than ever thanks to the Internet. Both the Yellow Pages and White Pages, as well as other online product and service search tools include customer reviews. Online marketplaces including Amazon and eBay provide customer reviews and seller ratings. Angie’s List is a subscription service that provides certified customer reviews, and Yelp! offers free customer reviews for local businesses and services on a five-star scale. Free search-engine-driven services include Google+ and Yahoo Local.

Enlist the Opinions of Friends

Asking family members, friends and neighbors about a particular company before scheduling a service or buying a product can help you weed out businesses that are not a good match for you. Your family members and friends typically know the kinds of quality you expect, so talking to people you trust beforehand can save you time and money.

Read Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is one of the oldest and most-trusted sources when it comes to learning about products before buying. Look for basic information on the Consumer Reports website,, and subscribe to the service for specific product ratings and other important information. Subscribers can also take advantage of online forums to discuss products in questions with other members, as well as read and share product reviews.