Are Your Home and Cell Phone Records Private?

Privacy Alert: Cell phone records – Internet ScamBusters #176

Today we have another Snippets issue — we’ll focus on these three topics — pay

special attention to the first item, the privacy alert:

  • Privacy alert: Are your home and cell phone records private?
  • Three useful websites
  • Are gifting clubs Ponzi schemes?

Privacy alert: Are your home and cell phone records private?

Privacy experts are warning that your home and cell phone records are not private at all. In fact, there are over fifty websites that offer cell phone records for the previous month for sale for prices ranging from $80 to $110!

Some of these sites also provide home phone records — as well as other private information.

Private investigators and identity thieves often purchase these records.

Over the past three months, federal regulators, privacy groups and politicians have become more concerned with this issue. Congress and more than half of the states are considering bills that would criminalize the sale of home and cell phone records.

Several states have filed lawsuits against some of these websites, claiming they violate current fraud laws.

Some of these websites have now shut down. Others have stopped taking new orders. Still others notify consumers that the service is no longer available — but only after they pay for a subscription!

Action: Privacy experts suggest you contact your local, long distance and cell phone providers and insist that your calling records all be password protected. Further, you can insist that all requests for your records be confirmed by a written notice that is mailed to you.

In addition, the password for accessing these home and cell phone records is often your mother’s maiden name. Make up a name you only use for this password, in case your mother’s real maiden name has been discovered by someone trying to gain access to your home or cell phone records.

Three useful websites

Just for fun, we thought we’d mention these useful websites we’ve found in the last couple of weeks (we have no affiliation with any of these sites): This is an interesting news site for consumer scams, vehicle and other recalls. Save money on travel with these hidden price reductions on both domestic and international flights — you can find some great bargains.

Are gifting clubs Ponzi schemes?

After our recent article on autosurfing, we started getting quite a few questions asking if “gifting clubs” were also Ponzi scams.

Gifting clubs are usually billed as private clubs with members who are eager to help their new “friends.” To join, new members are asked to give cash gifts to people who have risen through the club.

New members are told that as they get new members to join, they too will rise through the ranks of the club, so that they will receive far more money than they paid to join the club — from the club’s newest members.

Members often give thousands of dollars when they join these clubs.

Are most of these gifting clubs Ponzi schemes? Yes, according to the FTC. The FTC says the reality is that these clubs are illegal pyramid schemes. To learn more, visit the FTC site.

Time to close for today. We have a really special issue for you next week. Until then…