Rip People Off.
I have written extensively on this blog about scams used by criminals to rip people off. Unfortunately, the scammers never rest, instead they spend their time plotting and scheming new and improved scams to separate you from your hard-earned money or steal your identity.
Some of the recent scams involve the buying of your old Smartphone. Yes, many people want to stay on the cutting edge of technology and want the latest and best equipment on the market. How many times have you watched news reports on the lines outside of closed Apple stores waiting for the release of the most recent iPhone? An astounding number of people actually camp out in front of the stores overnight to make sure they are among the first to get their hands on this technology.
Having the newest technology is great, but what do you do with your expensive not-so-old Smartphone? The answer to that question has created an entire industry with companies who want to buy your “old” Smartphone, and they claim to offer you top-dollar for it. But are these companies for real and do they really do what they say they will do?
After a lawsuit filed by the FTC and the State of Georgia, a federal judge recently shut down numerous websites dealing with the purchasing of “old” Smartphones. Laptop & Desktop Repair, the company that owns and operates several websites, including cashforiphones.com, cashforlaptops.com, ecyclebest.com, smartphonetraders.com and sell-your-cell.com, was found to be scamming customers and not following through on their promises to consumers.
The websites would attract people looking to sell their old Smartphones and give the prospective seller an online quote, but once the companies had the Smartphones in their physical possession, the price they promised suddenly decreased to a fraction of their original quote. When the customer complained, they were told that it would take weeks to process the return of their Smartphones, or they could receive a payment today. According to the FTC lawsuit, the amounts offered after taking possession were as low as 3% of the original offer given.
So, what should a person do with their used Smartphones or computers?
The FTC makes the following suggestions:
- Trade it in. Ask the manufacturer or retailer if they’ll take your old device and give you credit toward a new one.
- Recycle it. Ask the manufacturer or retailer if they recycle old devices. You can also see the EPA’s advice on donating and recycling electronics.
- Donate it. Contact your local charity and ask if they accept used electronics.
Of course, always make sure that any personal information on your Smartphone or computer is deleted before letting it go.
The best advice when dealing with any online company is to spend some time researching the company, which includes reading what other people who dealt with them had to say.
Unfortunately, like death and taxes, there will always be scammers out there looking to take advantage of unsuspecting people. It’s up to you to educate yourself of your rights as a consumer, as well as tactics of recognizing the scammers and steering clear of them.
Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groups, Google+ Circles.