How To Avoid Getting Internet Scammed

Hidden subscriptions can cost you money. PayPal can help if you are attentive

By Stephen Pate – There are millions of ways to get scammed on the internet and even the cautious can get in trouble.

The best 3 tips are 1) never open email from people you don’t know; 2) never ever open the attachments or pictures in an email; and 3) never reply to those emails asking for account confirmation.

I found a new scam last year and got caught again this month: the hidden internet subscription. The game goes like this: you pay for something on the internet with PayPal or your credit card and afterward the company starts charging you small monthly payments. Many people don’t read their credit card statements carefully and get caught.

Last year I sent my son a birthday card from Blue Mountain ecards. I thought the card was free but next month there was a small charge for $3.99 on my VISA bill. The same charge was there in July, August and September before I noticed it. It was summertime and my mistake was not reading my statements right away.

It took a few emails and a phone call to Visa to get the charges stopped and I never got my money back.

This year I spent 99 cents on a reverse white pages site called to trace an unknown number that called me. The service didn’t work but an email from PeopleVerified said I had 20 credits, whatever that meant.

Unknown to me, I had signed up for a monthly subscription at $19.99 a month. The charge was made to my PayPal account a few weeks later, without my agreement except through some fine print deal.

PeopleVerified have a $9.99 monthly plan and a $39.99 annual plan so I assumed on two counts this was a scam.

I emailed PeopleVerified and they insisted I call them. Amazingly, they called the incident “a fraudulent account by email.”

Scam reporting sites said the company did not issue refunds promptly so I passed on calling them.

Instead, I contacted PayPal. After a brief explanation of what happened, PayPal reversed the charge and cancelled PeopleVerified’s authorization. PayPal has a great reputation for taking the customer’s side in internet scams.

Review your active billing agreements

up a recurring  authorization for payment, PayPal made a suggestion to check who I had given charge rights. It only took a minute to complete the review steps and remove anyone who was billing without permission.

“You can cancel a billing agreement at any time. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to your PayPal account.
  2. Click Profile.
  3. Click My Money.
  4. Click Update beside “My pre-approved payments.”
  5. Click the merchant name for the billing agreement you want to cancel.
  6. Click Cancel.”

Follow me on Twitter at @sdpate or on Facebook at NJN Network, OyeTimes and IMA News Buzz.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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