Treasure Chest of online trouble

November 16, 2009 8:01:40 AM PST
Many consumers are looking for ways to make money by working at home. This can be an especially great option for stay-at-home parents looking to boost their bottom line. But before you sign up or send away for information on one of these programs, beware.

Karen Dunn of Havertown, Pennsylvania, is a stay-at-home mom with a background in writing and marketing.

So it's no wonder a link on Facebook caught her eye.

"It was just a little square and it said, work from home, writing ads for Google," Dunn said.

The link took Karen to a page that looks like an article from the Miami Gazette News. It says you can start making money within hours of signing up with Google Treasure Chest. It also says you can get a free software kit.

Karen used her bank card to pay what she thought would be just $4 to ship the free kit, but she was in for a shock.

"This week, I went on my bank's website to transfer money and saw this erroneous charge for $72.21," Dunn said.

The charge was from Google Treasure Chest. A customer service rep told Karen she'd signed up for a membership and she'd continue to get billed every month.

"This company has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau in Utah and has more than 360 complaints in the past year," Andrew Goode of the BBB said.

Google, the company that runs the internet search engine, says it has no affiliation with Google Treasure Chest.. Also, the Miami Gazette News isn't an actual newspaper.

"It's deceptive; it's deceptive enough also for the Texas and Utah attorneys general to have taken action against the company," Goode said.

But here's what makes this situation even more irritating to consumers: The unexpected charges keep coming from different companies.

Karen was charged another $24.87 from Grant Spring, which claims to help secure government funding. Karen says Grant Spring told her it got her info from Google Treasure Chest.

"A lot of these companies create sucker lists which are lists of people who are susceptible to these types of schemes," Goode said.

Weeks later, Karen was billed by a third company, Safelock ID charged her $38.47.

"It's just wrong on so many levels. I was supposed to make money and now I'm losing money," Dunn said.

What happened was when Karen clicked for the free Google Treasure Chest CD, she also accept the terms and conditions.

The fine print does say you'll be billed unless you cancel in 7 days.

It also says you'll get a membership to SafelockID.com and you'll be billed for that after twenty one days.

So consumers be persistent, repeatedly demand a cancellation of your membership and a refund.

That's what Karen did and she's now getting all her money back.

Also, file complaints with the BBB and your state attorney general's office.

Action News did reach out to Google Treasure Chest and the other companies but got no response.

By the way, you can make money at home through legitimate, free programs like Google AdSense. That's sponsored by the real Google.

Also, Facebook tells us its policy prohibits ads with deceptive practices but since some may slip through the cracks, Facebook wants you to alert them of any bad ads you come across.

Full Google Statement:
"As Google is not affiliated with these sites, we can't comment on individual claims. However, we recommend that users exercise the same amount of caution they would when evaluating other types of get rich quick claims. Our Legal team reviews them and takes appropriate action if necessary. We do provide users the ability to generate revenue through programs like Google AdSense and the Google Affiliate Network. You can learn more about Google AdSense and sign up at no cost at http://www.google.com/adsense."

Full Facebook Statement:
We do not allow ads with deceptive practices on Facebook. In fact, they are in violation of our advertising policies. We have a team of people dedicated to reviewing ads and ensuring that they comply with our policies. In some cases, a few may slip through the cracks but when we find them or users alert us to bad ads, we remove them from Facebook. Users should always be cautious when giving an entity they do not know personal information, especially if the offer seems too good to be true. We've posted tips on our Facebook Security Page to help users be safe online.

LINKS:

http://www.bbb.org
http://www.attorneygeneral.gov
http://www.state.nj.us/lps/ca/home.htm
http://www.state.nj.us/lps/
http://www.state.de.us/attgen/


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