An individual may have seen advertisements for free Internet service trial periods. In some cases, these offers may be sent in the mail.
They may advertise to promise hundreds of hours of free services. Typically, however, these free offers end up costing the individual in the long run.
There are certain conditions and restrictions that are placed upon these offers that may be difficult for the consumer to discover.
What Should I Look out For?
Many of these types of offers for free service will only be valid for one month. Once that month is over, the individual is automatically signed up for the internet provider’s service, unless they cancel it before the end of that month.
Some providers, however, may not provide consumers with information regarding how to cancel their service or that they have to cancel it in order to avoid being signed up.
What Can I Do to Avoid Such Costs?
To avoid the types of situations discussed above, there are several questions an individual can ask before signing up for an internet service, including:
- Cancellation: Is there a way the service can be canceled?
- Length of the free offer: How long will the free access last?
- Billing date: If an individual does sign up for internet service, when is the billing date?
- Start of service: When does the one month of free service start?
- Cancellation notice: Will the individual receive verification if they cancel your service?
- Automatic subscription: Is an individual automatically subscribed to the internet service after the free month?
- Length of commitment: If an individual does sign up, do they have to commit to the service for a year or longer?
An individual should ask all of these questions before signing up for an internet service offer. If they believe they have been a victim of any types of misrepresentations, they should contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
What Is Consumer Fraud?
Consumer fraud arises when a consumer is a victim of a fraudulent seller or advertiser of merchandise. In certain situations, consumer fraud may be considered to be criminal fraud.
So long as fraud is associated with a good or service, it is considered consumer fraud. Consumer fraud may also be described as deceptive business practices that cause consumers to suffer financial or similar types of losses.
Victims of consumer fraud may be led to believe that they are engaging in legal and valid business transactions when, in fact, they are being defrauded in some way. Fraud that is perpetrated against a consumer is typically associated with a false promise or an inaccurate claim that is made to the consumer.
In addition, fraud includes practices that directly cause a consumer to be cheated out of their money. Consumer protection laws provide consumers with protections against fraudulent activities.
The FTC handles complaints against parties that have allegedly committed consumer fraud. The FTC will work with law enforcement to investigate fraud as well as other unfair business practices that are perpetrated against consumers.
What Are Some Examples of Consumer Fraud?
The term consumer fraud may include numerous different activities. Examples of consumer fraud may include, but may not be limited to:
- A seller failing to provide merchandise in an adequate manner, for example, when a car dealer who sells a lemon car may be found guilty of committing consumer fraud;
- Sending merchandise to an individual without their knowledge and consent and then forcing them to pay for it by threatening to bring legal action against them or to report it to the credit bureaus and ruin their credit score;
- Sweepstakes and lotteries offering a prize if the individual pays a fee and then failing to deliver the prize; and
- Charities or representatives who are pretending to be working for a good cause by asking individuals for donations that are then pocketed or distributed somewhere other than where they originally claimed.
What Is an Internet Offer Scam?
In recent years, there have been new programs that are working to expand rural broadband internet. These types of programs may involve the expansion of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into new locations, which results in new high speed Internet options for rural consumers.
This can, of course, be a positive thing, especially when individuals reside in areas where the only viable internet options include satellite or DSL. It is always a positive thing when consumers are provided with real choices for higher quality services at better prices.
Unfortunately, these situations may be exploited by scammers who are seeking to make fast money off of as many innocent individuals as they can. For example, telephone scammers may call residents of rural areas and pose as representatives of a popular or new internet service provider (ISP).
Even though the companies that are used by the scammers and the fake deals that are offered usually vary by the scam artists or location, the scams themselves are usually very similar. Individuals should be weary if an offer seems too good to be true.
In many situations, ISPs will contact potential customers to inform them about offers that may be available. The issue is the consumer’s ability to distinguish between a real deal being offered and an offer that is coming from a scammer.
When an individual falls for one of the scams, they may not end up receiving a great deal on their broadband internet service as they had hoped. Instead, the consumer will provide the scammer with enough of their personal information and financial information so that the scammer can steal their identity or clean out their bank account.
It is essential for an individual to be suspicious if they receive a phone call from an individual who is offering to sign them up for broadband Internet service with a company that is not currently providing service in their local area. If an individual has any doubts, they should call the company directly and speak to their customer service department to see if the deals are actually being offered.
It is important for an individual to obtain the contact information from the official website of the company because not every phone number listed online is accurate and may actually be a scam itself.
What Should I Look out For?
In many instances, these types of scam offers will require that the individual purchase a bundled internet service contract that may last a long time, for example, three to four years. These types of offers are often not as inexpensive as they may appear.
Additionally, they may just simply be a scam for the perpetrator to obtain personal information from scam victims.
Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with Internet Service Offers?
If you have any issues, questions, or concerns regarding internet service offers, it is important to consult with a consumer lawyer. Your lawyer can review any potential contacts or offers before you sign up and help you determine whether or not they may be a scam.
If you need to file a complaint with the FTC or any other government agency, your lawyer can guide you through the process and help with your claim. Your attorney may also be able to help you file a claim to obtain compensation for any losses you have suffered.