Internet Deception - Avoiding Online Scams
By Lulu Dolcezza / March 2012
IF YOU WANT TO POST A FREE advertisement on the Internet, beware. Not all sites that say they have free access really do. The fact that they are not always what they seem concerns Todd Drowlette, chairman of the classified listing site Move That Block (www.movethatblock.com).
"We all tend to have faith in the ‘truth in advertising' laws protecting us from bait and switch scams," Drowlette says. "The problem is that the Internet is so saturated with bait and switch sites, the government would never have enough resources to prosecute them all. So it's really up to consumers to beware and be aware of the kinds of sites that are out to get their money and their email addresses or just flat out rip them off."
FREE OR PREMIUM -- Many web sites advertise free user listings. The customer is lured in, not realizing that only the first listing is free. After that, you have to pay for a membership. Make sure you understand exactly what you get for free before you sign up.
CREDIT CARD FOR IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES -- To some people, this request is a red flag for trouble. Others think the request is legitimate, especially if accompanied by the explanation that it is to validate your legal age to place an ad.
Nonsense. It's a scam to get your money. In some cases when the credit card number is given, an unauthorized charge will appear on the card. But if you didn't read the fine print when you signed up, you cannot get the charge reversed.
THE FINE PRINT -- You must read it. When you register on a classifieds or pay-to-use site, don't just click past all the registration procedures. You do so at your own peril. Each click constitutes an agreement with the site. The terms of service and privacy policies spell out your legal rights. The site counts on the fact that you won't give them a look.
Your email address could be sold to spammers once you sign up. While the ads are free, you pay with your email address and other personal information, which can lead to an in-box filled with junk mail from spammers and other promotional companies.
FREE TO POST -- Maybe, but not in all cases. The offer could be conditional. Many sites use this as a come-on and inform you that only premium (paid) members can see your listing, or that you cannot get responses to your ad, unless you pay for a premium membership. What's the point of posting if you cannot communicate with anyone who sees it?
Todd Drowlette spent four years running IKON Realty Corporation, LLC, one of the country's premier boutique commercial real estate firms. From this career, he got the idea to create what he calls the world's first premium-quality, free-to-post and search web site.
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