Sunday, March 29, 2009

Buyer, Sampler or Cell User Beware

When thinking about things like identity theft or having our credit cards usurped, it’s easy to picture some yahoo digging through our trash or hacking into our bank’s computer. BUT be aware of three recent things that have happened to us that can happen to anyone if you aren’t paying attention.

First… if someone sends you a text on your cell phone and it looks like some random advertisement, you need to read it. Evidently, it is legal for companies to text you without your request and say that they are providing you a service without your express consent. Unless you read the entire text and take the specific steps specified at the end of their message, you are considered to have given tacit consent and ordered or at minimum, accepted their offer. They then contact your cell provider and request that their subscription or whatever be attached to your cell phone bill because you have subscribed to their service. The cell phone companies comply and tack on $10.00 ow whatever their fee is to you bill. Evidently this is perfectly legal and our cell phone company claimed that they have to comply with this scheme unless specifically told by their users to block that service. I had them remove that amount from our bill, block that company’s access to our cell phones, and because we don’t text anyway (and get charged each time our friends unwittingly text us), I had them block all incoming text messages from both mine and Deb’s phones. So don’t text Deb or I especially if you are selling snake oil to polish our phone bill.

Second…do not order a free trial of anything, especially if it is acai berry something or other. This “free trial” had been a huge headache, causing Deb to have to cancel her Visa card because this company sold or traded her card number AND expiration date to other companies so that several hundred dollars in various charges showed up on her bill for acai berry juice-never ordered and never received and for other supplements never ordered, never received. To top it off, now other companies are calling on the phone to say they are sending us xxx or yyy and charging it to Visa number zzz with the expiration date of aa/bbbb. The scary thing is that our phone number, name, credit card number and expiration date are all correct in this company’s files, even though we have NEVER had any type of contact or dealings with them at all in any way shape or form. The only thing we can think of is that they bought the information from that berry company. Visa said that a lot of people have had to cancel their cards because of that same acai berry scheme. So, check the purchases on your card statements don’t just look at your minimum due and trust that it is the way it should be. This is an illegal scheme that is really common right now.

Third…a similar scheme is being done by a book company, but not charging our credit cards. Instead, we ordered one book (we did not join a book club), they now randomly ship us books here and there, with an invoice attached. It isn’t a book club, they don’t show up at set intervals. It may be two weeks or three months in between.

I have been accused in the past of being an idealist and a pessimist alternately. Is it too much to ask to not have to jump through loops because unscrupulous companies use legal or illegal loop holes to steal my money or to try to strongarm me into buying something I have no use for?
Buyer (or sampler) Beware!

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