Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Phone books are quickly becoming a thing of the past as we supposedly have all the information we need at our fingertips with computers. In some ways, this is a good thing -- save the trees and all of that, but in other ways it has become more of a problem. Looking up a person's name and finding information on them online was pretty easy and free a couple years ago. Many of these services now require a credit card and a subscription, and they can be pretty sneaky about getting it. What you think is a one time charge can become anything but that.
Here is what happened to me with INTELIUS: I was an idiot at one time and married a man I will refer to as Satan. I divorced Satan many moons ago, but I like to keep tabs on Satan's current whereabouts. Last I heard, Satan was on his way to prison, where he so richly deserves to be. Every so often, I Google Satan to see just where the hell (pardon the pun) he is. My Google search was yielding nothing, so I decided to use INTELIUS. Huge mistake. They had a special for a 24 hour pass for $19.95. I could look-up whoever I wanted for 24 hours. Seemed a little pricey, but I wasn't having much luck on line. Foolishly, I gave these people my credit card number. After all, I'd used INTELIUS before and not had problems. I am VERY leery about signing up for ANYTHING online and since I used to be a legal assistant, I read EVERYTHING. Online companies have a habit of putting it somewhere in the fine print that they can use your credit card forever, charging you monthly until you call their customer service line a hundred times and threaten to sue if they do not stop. I do my best to avoid these so-called "services". INTELIUS has found a whole new angle on the scam that I only found-out about by accident.
Here is what happened: I was searching my spam folder for an email. Imagine my surprise when I saw a whole slew of emails from INTELIUS. I figured they were probably run of the mill spam advertising more services. Wrong. They were receipts for five separate services I did NOT use or request from INTELIUS. The grand total of the receipts was about $160.00. INTELIUS had run unrequested reports on any name I had searched for in during my 24-hour pass period. The bastards actually charged me for a report on my dear, sweet Uncle Gary, when all I wanted was his address because I was unable to send him a Christmas card this year. Oh, and by the way, I couldn't find ANY information on my ex-husband through this stupid service AT ALL. They gave me information for a Satan K., but my ex was a Satan B. Admittedly, Satan is a common name, but they didn't even TRY.
My next step was to call INTELIUS "Customer Service" because this surely was a misunderstanding. Although there were two unauthorized services they would remove from my charges, they refused to remove the other two charges totalling about $80. I was willing to pay for the $19.95 24-access service that sucked, because sometimes you have to pay to find-out something sucks, but paying $80 for something I neither ordered or wanted just frosted my cookies. I went up the food chain of "Customer Service" and got nowhere. I think I found where all the people that used to work for Bernie Madoff went.
I don't know why some business people think that it is "good business" to make it a policy to rip-off and scam honest people, but INTELIUS is one of those companies. I filed a report with the Better Business Bureau. I doubt they will do much, but I did find out that the BBB has received over 1000 consumer complaints about INTELIUS, so I guess now I am in line with them. There are several attorneys advertising for class action lawsuits against INTELIUS. So, I suppose if and when INTELIUS is finally sued, it will be the litigious people and money-grubbing attorneys oppressing them, instead of their own damn greed, corruption and dishonesty. The internet is rife with this sort of behavior and I have trouble understanding why a lot of these sorts of institutionalized scams are not considered criminal and treated as crimes. At least when somebody shoves a gun in your face, you know you are being robbed. Maybe someday this stuff will be treated as criminal. I'd like nothing more than to see white collar thieves like INTELIUS in the slammer. Maybe then they could find Satan B.