Magazine article Work & Family Life

How to Help Older People Avoid Web Scams

Magazine article Work & Family Life

How to Help Older People Avoid Web Scams

Article excerpt

Now that so many of us are using the Internet, we're discovering that the Web's been overrun by companies that will take your money and run if you give them a chance.

Many scams are for health-related products that appeal to older people especially. So, until the law catches up with the cyber-swindlers, we can do a lot to protect ourselves and our older relatives from becoming victims. Here are some rules for the "virtual road" from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Be wary of "freo" trials. Some are just a free key to your credit card or bank account. After you pay shipping and handling charges, you may well find yourself in an "automatic shipment program." Even if you manage to catch and cancel the typically overpriced product, you'll find it all but impossible to get a refund.

Some buyers received products after the free trial period was over, but their credit cards were already charged. "This happened to me," one woman complained. "When I asked for a $78.81 credit, I was told I could only get $40."

People have also reported having trouble stopping credit card charges after they cancelled a free trial. Many have found themselves automatically disconnected from a company's 800 number when they called to complain.

Watch out for bogus blogs. For example, weight-loss blogs by "real people" named Alicia, Emma, Tara, Becky or Olivia may be rich in personal details, but they are also fake, right down to the stock photos. The aim of these compelling stories is to connect you to a dubious, overpriced weight-loss product to buy online.

Ignore endorsements. Have you seen the ads for "Oprah's Amazing Diet?" With one click, you'll read about a woman who "lost 57 pounds in two months" using "Oprah-endorsed" products. Oprah Winfrey is not associated with these products - and the Better Business Bureau has given many companies an "F" for misusing endorsements by celebrities and doctors. …

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