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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Busted: Online 'Click to Save' Scams

Yahoo! Finance 
 

Busted: Online 'Click to Save' Scams

by Kelli B. Grant
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Online shoppers are familiar with the idea of clicking for coupons and discounts. But one wrong click can stealthily add hundreds of dollars to your credit card balance.
More from SmartMoney.com:

10 Things Caterers Won't Tell You

The Best Deals Are in the Strangest Places

Sharpen Your Coupon-Clipping Skills
These so-called "coupon click fraud" scams have become pervasive enough to draw the attention of state and federal authorities: last year a federal judge in Boston approved a $10 million class-action settlement against marketer Webloyalty; the New York State Attorney General's office recently reached $18.5 million in settlements with two separate marketers and some of their retail partners; Congress and the Federal Trade Commission have investigated. And in spite of the profits it yields, even online shopping sites have started to realize that subjecting their customers to these kinds of scammy offers is bad for business: In response to customer complaints, several big online businesses — including Orbitz, Priceline.com and VistaPrint — have abandoned such partnerships.

[Click here to check current credit card offers, including rates and terms.]
But consumers still need to be vigilant about where and how they shop online to avoid other schemes. After all, previous state settlements haven't stopped marketers from continuing deceptive practices, or kept consumers from falling for them.

These offers look harmless enough. After shelling out $75 for a bouquet of flowers or $30 for movie tickets, internet shoppers are presented with an offer: "Click here to save" $5 or $10 on your next purchase. But there's no coupon to be found, only an invitation to join a discount club for a small monthly fee.

[See 6 Things You Should Never Reveal on Facebook]

What consumers don't realize — and the sites bury in the fine print — is that the initial click was enough to transfer your credit card information from the merchant to the club, and enroll you automatically. Suddenly you're paying $4 to $20 per month, billed directly to your credit card. Many consumers don't even notice the charges until after they've paid hundreds of dollars for a discount-club membership they didn't even know they had.

The New York Attorney General's office agreed, launching investigations into two of the biggest perpetrators. As a result, affected New Yorkers will receive instructions in the mail about how to claim a refund. The rest of us are on our own.

Here's how to protect yourself and how to get your money back if you've already gotten snared:

Skip Debit

More consumers used debit cards than credit cards last year, the first time in history that's happened, according to a September 2010 report from Javelin Strategy & Research. But using a debit card online can make shoppers more vulnerable if they do get scammed, says Paul Stephens, the director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. The Fair Credit Billing Act limits personal liability for unauthorized credit card charges to $50, with most issuers waiving even that. Debit card protections, however, depend largely on how fast you spot and report the fraud, he says. Meanwhile, even one small, unexpected charge from a discount club can wreak havoc on your checking account, spurring overdraft fees.

Don't Click

If a retailer does offer some kind of post-purchase deal or rebate, you'll get the details directly via e-mail, says Randy Allen, an associate dean for Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management. In other words, you'll never have to click. Instead, you'll receive an email notifying you of an earned reward or rebate. Drugstore.com, for example, offers 5% rebates automatically accrued in your online account, which you set up during check-out. Still worried? Log into your account on the retailer's site to check for eligible coupons instead of clicking through from your email.

Fight Back

When scrutinizing your credit card bill each month, don't be shy about questioning charges, says Edgar Dworsky, the founder of consumer advocacy site ConsumerWorld.org. Figure out how far back the charges go, and then call the toll-free number for the company that's listed on your statement to ask for a refund. Most marketers will oblige, but if not, you can file credit card chargeback for the un-refunded fees, he says. Call your card's customer service line and ask to file a dispute. You'll need to answer a few questions by phone, and possibly fill out a form.

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Did you know.................
50% of all illness is due to poor indoor air quality (Source: 1989 State of Massachusetts Study)
AIR FRESHENERS: interfere with the ability to smell by coating nasal passages with an oily film, or by releasing a nerve deadening agent! Toxins in air fresheners include: Formaldehyde: highly toxic, known carcinogen. Phenol: can cause skin to burn, peel, and sweat. Can cause convulsions, coma, circulatory collapse and even DEATH!

LIQUID DISH-SOAPS: is the leading cause of poisonings in the home for children under the age of 6 (over 2.1 million accidental poisonings per year) (contains formaldehyde and ammonia in most brands) One Million poisonings in Canada each year are due to household cleaner ingestion. Some are fatal. The #1 cause of household poisoning is dish detergent. What kinds of chemicals are in those products? http://www.rense.com/general19/chemical.htm

AUTOMATIC DISHWASHING DETERGENTS: contain dry chlorine that is highly concentrated. #1 cause of child poisonings, according to poison control centers.

CHLORINE BLEACH: is a strong corrosive and can burn or irritate skin, eyes and the respiratory system. Can cause vomiting or coma if swallowed! WARNING! Never mix with ammonia as the fumes are very dangerous and can be DEADLY!

AMMONIA: is very volatile and damaging to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract!

FURNITURE POLISH: contains Petroleum Distillates, which are highly flammable and can cause lung and skin cancer!

DRAIN CLEANER: most drain cleaners contain lye, hydrochloric acid or trichloroethane, which are all very caustic. They burn the skin and eyes, and can cause liver and kidney damage.

OVEN CLEANER: contain lye, which is a strong caustic and irritant to skin and eyes. Can cause tissue damage if swallowed.

TOOTHPASTE: can contain a number of harmful ingredients, such as: ammonia, benzyl alcohol/sodium benzoate, colors, ethanol, flavours, fluoride, formaldehyde, mineral oil, plastic (PVP), saccharin. Formaldehyde, mineral oil, PVP, and saccharin are all classified as carcinogens or suspected carcinogen, as is fluoride, which has been banned in many European countries and is the subject of concern with regard to thyroid problems. In fact, as of April 1997, toothpaste is required to carry poison control information on the label as even a small amount can harm or kill a small child.

Occupational Safety & Health analyzed 2,983 chemicals used in personal care products. A personal care product is de-fined as anything we use to clean our bodies, or make ourselves look or smell good.
The results are as follows:
884 are toxic
146 cause tumours
218 cause reproductive complications
314 cause biological mutation
376 cause skin and eye irritations
778 caused acute toxicity

Over the last 20-30 years, as more toxic chemicals have been introduced in greater amounts, the level of toxins stored in adipose tissues (fat cells) of our bodies has risen. Bio-accumulation studies have shown that some toxins store in our bodies for life. Greater and greater amounts are being stored at younger ages. Diseases that used to occur later in life are now appearing at younger ages. Diseases that used to be rare are more frequent. For Example: There has been a 28% increase in childhood cancer since the addition of pesticides into household products. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

In one decade, there has been a 42% increase in asthma (29% for men; 82% for women-the higher rate for women is believed to be due to women's longer exposure times to household chemicals) (Source: Center for Disease Control)

Due to the increase in toxic build-up in our bodies, including the toxic build-up of formaldehyde, dead bodies are not decomposing as fast as they used to. (Source: National Institutes of Health)

There is an increased risk for leukemia in children where parents have used pesticides in the home or garden before the
child's birth (Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute)

Over 150 chemicals found in the average home have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological
abnormalities. (Source): Consumer Product Safety Commission

In most cases, however, you won't find much information on the label. There are no requirements of manufacturers to actually disclose what is in a product, and there is no regulation or enforcement. All of it falls under proprietary trade secret legislation.

Today, cancer is the leading cause of death for women ages 35-74. In 1901 cancer was considered a rare disease. Statistics show that only 1 out of 8000 people had cancer. TODAY, according to the American Cancer Society, 1 out of every 3 people has cancer. TODAY, 1 out of every 2 people has been touched by cancer. The fear of cancer is on every-one’s mind these days. So many forms of cancer and they all had to start somewhere . . .

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We have no choice but to breathe the air, eat the food, and drink the water; but we DO have a CHOICE of what we put on our skin and what products we have in our homes.

I know that I personally do not ever want to believe that I caused harm to my family, when I had the choice to change it. I’d love to help ensure a safer home for your family.

For more information on how to make your home a healthier place for you and your family please go to my website and I will call you with the information. I would love to help you have a healthier safer home!
Jennifer McLennan
www.WorkAtHomeMomJen.com

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