Sandy Berger: Beware of Internet Trickery and Deceit
I recently wrote about how companies that offer free software try to trick you into downloading extra programs.
They do this during the download and/or installation process by having a prechecked box indicating that the extra software will be included. Unless you uncheck the box, you get the extra programs along with the program that you requested.
This is not illegal since you have, although often inadvertently, agreed to the download. It is not really a scam, but it is a form of trickery that is prevalent on the Web.
Free programs are notorious for this type of trickery, as they try to offer something for free while still finding a way to make money. Another way they do this is by offering their free program but encouraging you to purchase an upgraded version of that program instead of the free version.
There is no problem with that. I have used several free programs and gone back to purchase the upgraded version to get more functionality or because I really like the free program. The problem comes when the company tries to trick you into purchasing the paid version.
Sometimes at websites like this, while there are numerous offers on every page for the paid version, the free program is very difficult to find. At other times, you are given a list of features, with columns comparing the paid version with the free version. Of course, the paid version has many more features, and they almost always offer you a 30-day free trial, after which they will charge your credit card.
Again, there is nothing wrong with this, as long as they make your choices clear. The problem arises when they try to trick you into downloading the paid version. Often, the download button for the paid version is very obvious, while the download button for the free version is so small that it is almost nonexistent.
Even worse is when the line is blurred between which download button is for which version. There may also be numerous pop-ups that lead you to the paid version.
These tactics, however, are minor when compared with a form of trickery that is really used to bamboozle you. One example of this is a pop-up that appears on your computer informing you that your computer is infected with a virus and you need to click a button to get rid of the virus.
In many cases, this is completely bogus. Your computer is not infected, but if you click on their button, it will be. Then the pop-ups will offer to get rid of the infection, if you pay a fee.
Sometimes the pop-ups look like they are from a legitimate anti-virus company such as Symantec or McAfee. They can be very realistic, so you have to be aware of which anti-virus program you are currently using and what its real alerts look like.
Once you have clicked the button of the bogus anti-virus promotion, it is usually too late to rethink what you are doing, so don't be trigger happy. If you think you are being approached with an anti-virus scam, just close the window. If the window won't close, turn off the computer.
Swindles like this are both illegal and upsetting for the computer user. On top of that, falling for a scam like this can cost lots of time and money.
There are many different cons of this type, and there are several others that are equally disturbing. One is a company that tries to deceive you into moving your domain name registration to it. The one that I've seen over and over again is by a company called "Domain Registry of America."
You don't have to worry about this unless you have a website of your own. If you do, you should be aware of the deceitful form of trickery that is being using. A domain name is the name of your website. For instance, my website is compukiss.com. The Pilot's website is thepilot.com.
When you register a website, the name and address of the domain name holder and the date when it will expire become public record. The Domain Registry of America uses this information to send a "Domain Name Expiration Notice" to the registered user.
The company makes it look like a bill, and it indicates that if you do not pay the requested fee by a certain date, your domain name will expire. Read the fine print, and it says that "now is the time to transfer and renew your name from your current Registrar to the Domain Registry of America."
So by filling out its form and sending it the requested amount, you are not simply renewing your domain name, you are also transferring it to this company Of course, its fee is higher than most, and you will be paying this fee for as long as you keep the domain name, unless you transfer it away from this company.
If you call the Domain Registry of America, you will find that it refers to the letter you received as an offer rather than a bill. It is right, but it is still extremely deceiving.
I guess there is no doubt that as long as humans are flawed creatures, there will be trickery and deceit. More and more of it is found on the Internet and in Internet-related materials every day. So be careful out there!
Contact Sandy Berger at email@example.com.
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