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Been scammed online? Consider this advice from the California Department of Consumer Affairs

4/22/08 Update:  The FreeNEzy.com website written about in this post appears to have been sold and under new management, as documented on this recent post. While this change in ownership does not change any of the events that have occurred previously with this site (and my friend never got his reward), there is currently no evidence we are aware of that the new owner has continued any of the fraudulent practices previously associated with the site. As always, use caution when dealing with this or any other site.

Unfortunately, it will probably happen to you at some point. As I have highlighted in my blog here and here, there are scams out there online that even the most careful of internet users can be victimized by. A friend of mine was a victim of the FreeNEzy.com scam, and he received the following response with some great tips when submitting a complaint to the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

Thank you for contacting the State of California, Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The information you provided indicates this is a business that does not require registration with any regulatory division within the DCA; therefore, we would like to offer you the following alternative resolution options and information.

Unfortunately, internet businesses are not currently regulated by any government agency in California. However, we recommend you contact the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General (AG). Business and Professions Code Section 17509, states that civil and criminal penalties may apply to any person engaged in unfair trade practices and for certain false or misleading advertising. Therefore, a suspected false advertisement or misleading statements and business practices should be registered with the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General (AG). You may contact the AG directly at the following:

California Department of Justice
Office of the Attorney General
PO Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Toll free: (800) 952-5225 (in California)
Telephone: (916) 322-3360
Web site: http://www.caag.state.ca.us

You may use the following link to the California AG’s office to file a complaint:
http://ag.ca.gov/contact/complaint_form.php?cmplt=CL

We also suggest you follow-up with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) regarding the status of your complaint. BBB’s are nonprofit organizations that promote an ethical marketplace by encouraging honest business advertising and selling practices. They offer a variety of consumer services including information about a business, particularly whether or not there are unanswered or unsettled complaints. For more information, please visit the BBB Web site at: http://www.bbb.org.

Lastly, we recommend you contact the District Attorney’s office to file a complaint. Many local district attorneys, through consumer fraud units, prosecute fraudulent practices in their communities or will investigate complaints. Investigators are assigned to each District Attorney branch location in the County and to a variety of special units. Special units personnel work directly with deputy district attorneys in the office’s specialized programs to combat gangs, public corruption, organized crime, family violence, stalking, hate crimes, consumer fraud, and other high impact crimes. You may find a list of DA’s offices on our Web site at: http://www.dca.ca.gov/r_r/distat1.htm.

Finally, you may wish to review the DCA’s publication entitled “Consumer Self-Help, Tips & Resources to Resolve Consumer Complaints.” This brochure offers tips to consumers on how to resolve their own complaints, resources they may contact for assistance, and also includes a sample complaint letter to a business. You may access this publication on our Web site at: http://www.dca.ca.gov/r_r/consumer-selfhelp.pdf.

Again, thank you for contacting the DCA.

If you have been a victim of the FreeNEzy.com scam or the Reservation Rewards scam, or any other scam, I would encourage you to use this information and file complaints. We cannot allow scammers to operate unchecked!

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September 18, 2007 - Posted by | Scams

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