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Scams, spam and the flim-flam man



By Steve Christensen

I can’t believe how many unethical people there are.
I’m sure you’ve all experienced email spam. I’ve been diligent about not falling for phishing scams, but one got me.
The email actually came to my regular inbox, which I have come to realize is no reason to place trust in an email. It said I had been awarded a $50 gift certificate to an online retailer that I often patronize. Seemed like a legitimate deal. I’ve given this retailer lots of business and in return they are giving me a $50 gift certificate. Except, they weren’t.
I was only to answer a few questions on a survey and I’d be awarded the gift certificate. After answering questions for probably 20 minutes I finally realized I wasn’t being given anything and I was, in fact, being set up. I then ended the survey.
Too late. I was inundated with email solicitations. I attempted to unsubscribe, but that was futile. I just received more emails from more sources. They had me. If I go a day without checking my email I have well over 100 spam emails in my inbox.
I turned to the internet to see if there was anything I could do about it. I learned how to block emails. That didn’t help. I later learned that these people change emails constantly, because so many people attempt to block them.
I don’t get it. I’ve never bought anything from any of these places and never will. One might think that they would eventually realize and stop sending them. But, I learned, they never will because they get money from companies to do exactly what they’re doing. Because email is free, it costs them nothing and there’s always a chance someone will do something stupid and actually respond to one of their messages. I can only suppose this is the case. It must be, or they wouldn’t keep doing it. Would they?
I also get solicitations on my cell phone. These bother me even more than the email spam. They are all computer generated, so there’s no way of talking to a person. These people are even more unethical (if that’s possible) than the email frauds. They go so far as to use a local phone number to disguise what they are doing.
While I know how I fell into the email trap, I have no idea how I fell into the cell phone trap. I put my phone number on the “no call” list, but that did nothing. I made a formal complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). I received a response that the FCC does not investigate individual complaints. My response to them was, “If there is no penalty for violating the no-call list, what good is it?” I was ignored.
One more rant, payday loans. You see advertisements for these on television constantly, promising immediate relief for people who don’t have money to pay ordinary bills or provide food for their children.
On the surface these reasons seem to be good. But, the reality is devastating. Once the trap has been set people can’t get out of it. The interest can be overwhelming. More often than not a payment, little more than the interest, results in another loan. Each week the problem multiplies. Often people pay no more than the interest. Sometimes they can’t even pay the interest. And the interest never stops. It can be as much as 30 percent and more. Much more. One state allows such lenders to charge 1100 percent.
The advice of nearly anyone who has taken such a loan, and nearly everyone in the legitimate lending business, is don’t do it. Do anything else. Anything.
In conclusion, I ask this question, how do people live with themselves?

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