FTC Holds Conference About ‘Bogus Internet Scams’
March 2nd, 2009 at 7:15 pm - by Ana Danijela
As of late, a number of websites have popped up exploiting the recent moves by President Obama and international governments to provide funds to investors, homeowners and others in form of economic stimulus.
In the United States, the authoritative source for information on federal grants is Grants.gov, but a number of sites have begun to offer “grant software” and other products in what the Federal Trade Commission is calling “Economic Stimulus Scams.”
The products, which are generally offered “free of charge” often feature a picture of President Obama, and a number of well-known news networks to lend legitimacy, require a credit card to pay for the minute “shipping” charges. This one or two dollar charge is accompanied with a contract or term, which is generally hidden in small print at the bottom of the page, which authorizes the company to rebill you for “updates” to the product or a similar service for $30-$50 per month.
Worse yet, a number of consumer advocacy groups trying to cancel these services found it was very difficult, running through chains of outsourced support who was uncooperative and difficult to communicate with.
A “press conference to unveil bogus Web sites and other scams claiming they can help individual consumers qualify for a share of stimulus package money. Many sites use photos of President Obama and Vice President Biden to give the appearance of authenticity. Sites also use logos from ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, NBC, MSNBC, USNews and other major media outlets to make them appear legitimate,” is expected from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection on March 4th with more information about the ways the Commission is handling the issue.
The Better Business Bureau has been watching the industry heavily, granting most of the “grant companies” ‘F’ ratings and saying that more than 300 complaints within the United States in the past year.