Thanks for visiting UCAN.org! For over 25 years, UCAN has been protecting, educating, and advocating for consumers through a small staff of dedicated consumer advocates. Our services are available because of grassroots donations from people like you.
I recently received a deceptive notice from Domain Registry of America. The "notice," which looks more like a bill than a notice, gives the impression that a domain I own is about to expire and must be renewed. Domain Registry of America's notice informed me that, "Failure to renew your domain name by the expiration date may result in a loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you on the Web." OK. That's very thoughtful, but my domain doesn't expire until November. Why is Domain Registry of America only giving me until July 23 to reply? Well, mostly because it's a scam. Read more.
The number on your caller ID may or may not be a law firm, the IRS or your bank calling you! By using a special prepaid calling card, you can become the victim to real financial disaster if you give away any personal information requested by the caller. Watch the Good Morning America story.
There are Internet sites like www.SpoofCard.com or www.itellas.com where anyone can buy a prepaid calling card. This prepaid calling card has special features to hide the real identity of the caller. There are Federal regulations prohibiting the use of this technology by telemarketers and debt collectors. This service is also a stalker's dream and a victim's nightmare. Who else but telemarketers, debt collectors, scam artists trying to get your personal information and stalkers trying to harrass you, would need this type of service? Even though it is said that the service is for Law Enforcement, Skip Tracers, Private Investigators, etc., everyone knows that these professionals have other means to accomplish the same goal. The "Spoofer" is also able to change his/her voice to be a man or a woman and not sound like a recording. With a "Spoof" call, *69 (Call Return), *57 (Call Trace), and Anonymous Call features to typically provide you with information, do not work.
The people or companies using this service are able to send any number to your Caller ID. As a victim of identity theft, I received calls where total strangers pretended to be someone else and were demanding my date of birth, social security number, current and previous addresses and my mother's maiden name. One call came from a 512 area code and turned out to be the Secretary of State Comtroller Office for Texas to gather information for taxes. There is no state tax in Texas! Another call was a law firm in Tampa, Florida calling to collect debts on three credit cards. Again, personal information was requested including my bank account number. As a victim of ID theft, I did not take the threat of a major lawsuit or the threat of taking my home lightly. These scam artists fortunately said I owed on 3 cards that I had never used or ordered and that were already removed from my credit history as part of the ID theft.
The attempt to personally violate others is inexcusable and reflects the lowest form of human character. Now that a legislator was "spoofed", laws against the companies providing the service are being enacted. If problems had resulted for regular consumers like you and me, there is no telling how long this practice would have continued.
Consumers are receiving a pre-recorded message in Spanish claiming that they have won a prize. If you respond as an English-speaker, you are immediately disconnected. Spanish-speaking callers are told that they have won a free Mexican vacation if they are able to get through to the 859 phone numbers.
As with all of these types of offers, there's always a "Gotcha". The best way to stop this practice is to file complaints with the Federal Trade commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov. This federal agency responds to the quantity of complaints received for a single issue. Therefore, you will help yourself and others by filing an online complaint ASAP
UCAN.org user AmiLin recently brought a disturbing practice to our attention. After buying 4 boxes of contact lens from Lens.com, AmiLin discovered that she had been sold recalled contacts. She was aware that some of the Optix 02 contact lenses (the brand she normally buys) had been recalled and even contacted Lens.com before purchasing to confirm that none of their Optix 02 lenses had sku's within the recall range (view the recall notice here). Lens.com assured AmiLin that she would not be sold recalled contact lenses, however, that is exactly what they did. As if that weren't enough, Lens.com refused to fully refund AmiLin for the recalled contact lenses. Read some of AmiLin's correspondence with Lens.com here.
UCAN recently received a complaint regarding the domain name registration and web hosting services of RegisterFly.com:
I used Registerfly.com to purchase my webname (xxxxx) and for service. When my name was due to be renewed in Dec. 06, I renewed it, twice, but it never showed renewed. Now my webname has been purchased by xxxxxx. Is there any way I can get my webaddress back?
Thanks, xxxx xxxxxx
RegisterFly was a somewhat reputable company a number of years ago, but in the past year or two their services have declined. The number of consumer complaints skyrocketed (read the horror stories at the falling bullets, or here, here, and here) and it appears that RegisterFly simply stopped renewing a large number of its customers' domains. This all culminated in ICANN's termination of RegisterFly's accreditation in March 2007.
Fear not RegisterFly customers! On May 29, 2007, GoDaddy.com announced that it will help RegisterFly by taking over more than 850,000 domain names. New GoDaddy.com customers can call a dedicated 24-hour hot line at (480) 366-3500 or visit www.godaddy.com/welcomeregisterfly for more info.
UCAN and its sister organization Privacy Rights Clearinghouse learned of a phone number scam that is particularly vicious because in one case the phone number USED TO BE the fraud dept. number for Experian. In the other case, a La Jolla, CA victim who was desperately trying to call the 800# listed by IDT to opt-out of information sharing, ended up with the same message and ended up being referred to the exact same number where "International Rates" would apply.
Until UCAN posted the number as (800) 301-7195, it was a working 800 # bought up along with a huge list of 800#s no longer used by legitimate companies. UCAN tried the 800-301-7195 on June 8, 2007 and it was no longer in service. Whoever Marina Telecom and its related third-party billing companies are in the U.S., are now monitoring the UCAN website and probably other complaint sites on the Net. We called the 876-5711 from our office phone to see if we would get any useful information or to see if someone would answer. There were long pauses, recorded requests to check toll-free 800#s, 866#s, 877#s and 888#s. The bottom line is that each time we followed the prompts, we got no information other than we were being charged International rates. The suggestion is to NOT DIAL THE 10-15-15 OR THE 876 JAMAICA INTERNATIONAL NUMBER.
An individual called our hotline and reported this to me today. She had been given that number so she could place a fraud alert. She called it (and I've done the same to verify her story) and was referred to another number to call. She got a message that says:
Either the 800 numbers were discontinued and remained as references on other websites or the numbers were hacked into by a foreign company. UCAN could find no reference to a search for Marina Telecom. "The number you have dialed has a new number assistance service. For more information ... dial 1-876-536-5711. ... International rates apply.... Brought to you by Marina Telecom."
The key words in that message are "International rates apply." But it's easy to not hear that warning.
When one individual dialed the 876 number, she later found that a fee of $7.14 was applied to her phone bill. Turns out that the area code 876 is a Jamaica area code. A google search on area code 876 turns up many warnings about this area code being associated with scams. It's easy to hear the area code 876 and think that it's one of the toll-free area codes.
It's instructive to do a google search on the full number (800) 301-7195. It shows that dozens of legitimate web sites, including the ITRC provide that number as the fraud department of Experian. If people call that number and listen to the recorded message, they are likely to then call the 876 number and be charged the international rate of $7+.
Further, when we made multiple calls to the (800) 301-7195 number, sometimes we were directed to dial 10-15-15-800 instead of the (876) 536-5711 number.
Let us hear from you about this scam below!
We recently recieved the following email regarding freelotto.com:
Travelling on channels of Internet, I have found out ad about a prize. " If you have visited this site that you have won also it absolutely free-of-charge or free" - say the ad. It was the site www.freelotto.com. At times I like to play lotteries and I do not test to this disgust. I was registered, and they have sent me the letter, that I have won the large sum. But, to receive this sum - they ask the number of my credit cards and to pay for game at a rate of 14$. It seems to me is not so fair in connection with declared earlier. Whether you know this organization? Whether really they will pay me a promised prize?
I hate to be the one to inform you, but you will not receive the cash prize promised in the letter. This is a scam. FreeLotto.com is a legitimate lottery site run out of the UK and they have samples of the fraudulent letters being sent out under their name. A legitimate lottery will NEVER ask you to pay money or give out credit card information in order to receive your winnings.
UCAN has discovered that to opt-out of IDT sharing information with affiliates or third parties using its Pay N'Talk promotion, that the public is given an 800 # designed to make them think they can opt out. When this number is called, a recording tells you the 800 number has changed to an 876 #. The area code is to Jamaica. Therefore, if one followed the instructions to opt-out of information sharing per IDT's own privacy statement enclosed, it would require an international call. Not so user friendly in our opinion. Remember to fill out our complaint form if you experience anything similar to the IDT scam.
UCAN recently received a complaint that gives us reason to believe a company known as DomainUSA, or Domain Name USA, is attempting to scam consumers. Here's how it works: DomainUSA sends a website owner a bill to renew the domain name registration on the site. DomainUSA makes it appear that due to a merger, you must now register through them. The problem is that DomainUSA has nothing to do with your domain name, in fact, they don't even register domain names. Domain USA provides domain name SEARCH ENGINE registration. Of course, many places are willing to submit your domain to search engines for FREE. If you receive a letter from DomainUSA, DO NOT SEND ANY MONEY, it is a scam. Read more. Also, you can comment below if you receive anything similar.