Cooling-off Period

by Rudolf Faix Thursday, November 5, 2015 11:32 PM

JudgeIn consumer rights legislation and practice, a cooling-off period is a period of time following a purchase when the purchaser may choose to cancel a purchase and return goods which have been supplied for any reason and obtain a full refund.

In addition, legislation exists in various parts of the world enforcing this right, to varying degrees. For example, in the European Union, the Consumer Rights Directive of 2011 obliges member states to give purchasers the right to return goods or cancel services purchased from a business away from a normal commercial premises, such as online, mail order, or door-to-door, with limited exceptions, within two weeks from the receipt of the goods, for a full refund

Each country has its own rules for the cooling-off period. Here are only listed the most important rules. Please visit the provided link to read all the rules.

 

Australia

Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Telemarketers are not allowed to call consumers:

  • on Sundays or public holidays
  • before 9am or after 8pm on weekdays
  • before 9am or after 5pm on Saturdays

 

Cancellation rights (cooling-off):

  • The salesperson must tell to the consumer about his cooling off rights. The consumer can change his mind and cancel the contract for any reason without penalty within 10 business days

  • If the consumer bought goods that cost $500 or less, the salesperson can supply these goods immediately during the cooling-off period but the consumer still have the right to cancel the contract

  • The salesperson cannot take payment during the cooling-off period for any goods or services and cannot supply any services.

  • The consumer has 10 business days to cool-off or cancel the agreement, starting the first business day after receiving the agreement document.

  • The consumer can terminate the agreement verbally or in writing any time during the cooling-off period. Written termination can be delivered personally, sent via post, emailed or sent via fax. The agreement will be cancelled from the day you give notice

  • The trader must promptly return or refund any money paid under the agreement or a related contract

  • Even if the consumer has partially or completely used the goods supplied by the salesperson under the agreement he still has cooling-off rights during the specified period

  • The salesperson must not try to convince the consumer to waive your rights to cool off.

Canada

Source: Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA)

In some provinces and territories, there is an automatic cancellation (or cooling-off) period for certain types of contracts. Examples include contracts for services such as credit, dating clubs, health clubs, funeral and cemetery services, time-shares, condominiums, natural gas, electricity and door-to-doorsales. The cooling-off period is valid whether the company tells you about it or not.

To find out more about the cooling-off period in your area contact Your Provincial or Territorial Consumer Affairs Office.

 

New Zealand

Source: Consumer. now you know

Every agreement for an uninvited direct sale must be in writing and expressed in plain language. You must be given a copy of the agreement either at the time you sign, or if the agreement is made over the phone within 5 working days.

The agreement must:
  • clearly describe the goods or services being supplied

  • show the total price payable and any other consideration to be given (or how this is calculated if it’s uncertain at the time you sign)

  • inform you of your right to cancel

  • list the trader’s name, street address, phone number and email, and your name and street address

  • show the date it was signed.

If the trader fails to give you this information, the agreement can’t be enforced (except if the failure is minor and has not materially disadvantaged you).

 

United Kingdom

Source: Which? Consumer Rights

At a distance or face-to-face off-premises the following key information has to be given:
  • a description of the goods or service, including how long any commitment will last on the part of the consumer 

  • the total price of the goods or service, or the manner in which the price will be calculated if this can’t be determined

  • cost of delivery and details of who pays for the cost of returning items if you have a right to cancel and change your mind

  • details of any right to cancel - the trader also needs to provide, or make available, a standard cancellation form to make cancelling easy (although you aren’t under any obligation to use it)

  • information about the seller, including their geographical address and phone number

  • information on the compatibility of digital content with hardware and other software is also part of the information traders are obliged to provide  

  • Your right to cancel an order starts the moment you place your order and ends 14 days from the day you receive it

  • Your right to cancel a service starts the moment you enter into the contract and lasts 14 days

  • If you want to download digital content within the 14 day cancellation period you must agree to waive your cancellation rights 

  • Companies are not allowed to charge you for items they put in your online shopping basket or that you have bought as a result of a pre-ticked box

 

United States of America

Source: Federal Trade Commission

FTC Approves Changes to Cooling-Off Rule:

The FTC has approved a final amendment to its Cooling-Off Rule, increasing the exclusionary limit for certain “door-to-door” sales. The Cooling-Off Rule previously provided that it is unfair and deceptive for sellers engaged in “door-to-door” sales valued at more than $25 to fail to provide consumers with disclosures regarding their right to cancel the sales contract within three business days of the transaction. Under the amended rule, the definition of “door-to-door sales” distinguishes between sales at a buyer’s residence and those at other locations. The revised definition retains coverage for sales made at a buyer’s residence at a purchase price of $25 or more, and it increases the purchase price to $130 or more for all other covered sales at temporary locations. The revised definition recognizes that concern regarding high-pressure sales tactics and deception during in-home solicitations is greater than when sales are made away from consumers’ homes. Therefore, the Commission concluded that raising the value to $130 for non-home sales would reduce compliance burdens for sellers while still protecting consumers.

Full telemarketing rules: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/complying-telemarketing-sales-rule#refund

 

Internet Auction Fraud

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 9:26 AM

ebayAn online auction is an auction which is held over the internet. Online auctions come in many different formats, but most popularly they are ascending English auctions, descending Dutch auctions, first-price sealed-bid, Vickrey auctions, or sometimes even a combination of multiple auctions, taking elements of one and forging them with another. The scope and reach of these auctions have been propelled by the Internet to a level beyond what the initial purveyors had anticipated. This is mainly because online auctions break down and remove the physical limitations of traditional auctions such as geography, presence, time, space, and a small target audience.

Online auctions have become big business, with millions of items for sale at any given time. (5 million+ at eBay alone, right now.) Tens of thousands of people around the world currently make a full-time living selling items through Internet auction houses.

One reason for their incredible growth and popularity is that they make it easy for people to find great deals on hard to find items from around the world. The excitement also makes them prime hunting grounds for scam artists, ready to play on the desire many auction bidders have for that “unbelievable deal.”

We want to mention right off the bat that the vast majority of sellers and buyers at online auctions are honest people, and deliver on their promises. According to eBay, only one auction in 40,000 on their site ends with a reported case of confirmed fraud.

 

Tips for Avoiding Internet Auction Fraud:

  • Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller’s obligations are before you bid.

  • Find out what actions the website/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.

  • Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller/business is located.

  • Examine the feedback on the seller.

  • Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.

  • If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.

  • Be cautious when dealing with sellers outside the United States. If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult to rectify.

  • Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by a warranty or can be exchanged if there is a problem.

  • Make sure there are no unexpected costs, including whether shipping and handling is included in the auction price.

  • There should be no reason to give out your social security number or driver’s license number to the seller.

 

Cancer Research Scams

by Rudolf Faix Saturday, July 11, 2015 6:13 AM

X-ray photographMost all of us have been there: a beloved wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son, or dear friend is diagnosed with cancer. We know the treatment is painful and the cure, chancy. We hate the thought of the suffering ahead. What we want more than anything is a breakthrough - a cure that will also protect our loved ones from debilitating side effects.

And then we hear about a revolutionary cancer research project that sounds completely on the up and up...it just needs financial backing. Seductive? You bet. Understandably, people fall for it like a ton of bricks.

Take a case out of the FBI's Jacksonville office:

A woman claiming to have a master’s degree in clinical nutrition was successfully marketing a full-body "electrotherapy cancer machine" across the United States.

The wind up: She said it was a breakthrough development by a London-based team of doctors, lab technicians, and physicists from the combined research fields of electromagnetic field therapy, radio frequency therapy, crystal healing therapy, and "human energy" healing.

The pitch: The machine had been tested on local cancer patients in London who were now cured, and a European company had promised to buy the machine for millions of dollars. Money was needed to complete the project...and the return on investors’ money would be at least 50% and likely much more.

The foul: Thanks to an alert local bank investigator who was suspicious of an account suddenly receiving massive numbers of wire transfers in 2003, our Jacksonville office was contacted. We opened a case and turned two undercover agents into wannabe investors. It was just a matter of time before a joint investigation with our local Florida police partners turned up hard evidence that the full-body "electrotherapy cancer machine" was a complete fraud...to the tune of $2.5 million illegally raked in between 1997 and 2003.

Game over: In mid-2004, investigators had enough evidence for indictments on wire fraud charges. With our police partners - the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana - we arrested two subjects. Trials are coming up shortly.

Lessons learned: We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: If it sounds too good to be true, it IS too good to be true. Whether it’s a miracle cure or a miracle return on investment that interests you, please first go down our checklist on how to avoid these classic "advance fee scams".

 

Reverse Mortgage Scams

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 5:44 PM

drawing house on the moveThe FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) urge consumers, especially senior citizens, to be vigilant when seeking reverse mortgage products. Reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECM), have increased more than 1,300 percent between 1999 and 2008, creating significant opportunities for fraud perpetrators.

Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related companies to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting senior citizens or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property.

In many of the reported scams, victim seniors are offered free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance. They are also used as straw buyers in property flipping scams. Seniors are frequently targeted through local churches and investment seminars, as well as television, radio, billboard, and mailer advertisements.

A legitimate HECM loan product is insured by the Federal Housing Authority. It enables eligible homeowners to access the equity in their homes by providing funds without incurring a monthly payment. Eligible borrowers must be 62 years or older who occupy their property as their primary residence and who own their property or have a small mortgage balance. See the FBI/HUD Intelligence Bulletin for specific details on HECMs as well as other foreclosure rescue and investment schemes.

Tips for Avoiding Reverse Mortgage Scams:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements.
  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment.
  • Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand.
  • Do not accept payment from individuals for a home you did not purchase.
  • Seek out your own reverse mortgage counselor.

If you are a victim of this type of fraud and want to file a complaint, please submit information through our electronic tip line or through your local FBI office. You may also file a complaint with HUD-OIG at www.hud.gov/complaints/fraud_waste.cfm or by calling HUD’s hotline at 1-800-347-3735.

Source FBI: http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors/seniors#rms

 

Work-At-Home Scams - Job One: Don't Take the Bait

by Rudolf Faix Friday, July 10, 2015 3:13 PM

Announcement; Earn $$$$ without leaving your homeEveryone’s seen them - seductive work-at-home opportunities hyped in flyers tacked to telephone poles, in newspaper classifieds, in your e-mail, and all over the web, promising you hundreds or thousands of dollars a week for "Ads/E-mail Processing", "Craft Assembly", "Data Entry", "Envelope Stuffing", "List with Clients for Sale", "Make Profit Now", "Marketing Kit", "Medical Billing Service", "Typing at Home", etc. And it’s just a phone call or mouse click away…

Might be tempting during these uncertain economic times, but beware of any offers that promise easy money for minimum effort - many are scams that fill the coffers of criminals.

In a nutshell, you find an ad, which tells you that you could turn your computer into a moneymaking machine (giving you the example of someone who already quit their 9-5 job - More details on this can be found in the "Mom Makes $.../ Day Scam"). They lure victims in by using phrases such as "Make an extra buck", "extra holiday money", "Make money online", or "Make money on the Internet", etc.

Here are a few of the most common work-at-home scams

  • Advance-fee
    Starting a home-based business is easy! Just invest a few hundred dollars in inventory, set-up, and training materials, they say. Of course, if and when the materials do come, they are totally worthless…and you’re stuck with the bill.

  • Making a couple of additional bucks doesn't sound any simpler than this:
    Simply pay an in advance, one-time charge (a couple of thousand dollars, maybe) to have somebody fabricate and host a working site highlighting different family unit products available to be purchased, from toothpaste to tissue; every time somebody purchases a thing, you gather a cut of the exchange. You should do nothing more than urge individuals to shop there - the rest (stocking stock, transporting the item) is taken care of for you. On the other hand, more probable, nothing is taken care of, and the criminal offering you the open door is a distant memory with your sincere cash before you've sold one tube of Crest.

  • Driver needed
    This trick, as of late promoted on Craigslist, has numerous varieties. For one situation, a man asks you to chauffer his wife, who is going to your territory. Sufficiently simple, however the installment terms are slightly convoluted. You are informed that you will get a check (or "cash gram") for, say, $2,500 via the post office. You will store the check, then instantly haul out the money - $700 to cover your charge and any subordinate costs, and the rest to be sent back to the trickster. Your bank most likely won't know for a day or two that you have saved a fake check.

  • Counterfeit check-facilitated "mystery shopper"
    You’re sent a hefty check and asked to deposit it into your bank account, then withdraw funds to shop and check out the service of local stores and wire transfer companies. You keep a small amount of the money for your "work", but then, as instructed, mail or wire the rest to your "employer". Sounds good? One problem: the initial check was phony and by the time your bank notifies you, your money is long gone and you’re on the hook for the counterfeit check.

  • The greater part of these telecommute plans guarantee up to a great many dollars for each week for preparing protection claims for specialists who are excessively occupied with, making it impossible to manage the printed material themselves. You'll get startup showcasing materials, programming, an instructional meeting and a "lead" rundown of neighborhood doctors - all for a charge, obviously. Too awful that product costs a considerable measure less, best case scenario Buy, your instructional meetings are put off uncertainly, your leads are vapor and nobody needs your service.

  • This may be the worst one of all
    Customers pay a charge to enroll with the business to get to a pre-screened rundown of "genuine" work-at-home employment postings. The con artist's promotions appear over the span of a "trick free employments at home" online inquiry, and they guarantee a discount to the individuals who neglect to get a vocation. In the wake of sending in installment, casualties are summarily bolted out of their records and never see a solitary opening for work.

  • Pyramid schemes
    You’re hired as a "distributor" and shell out big bucks for promotional materials and product inventories with little value (like get-rich quick pamphlets). You’re promised money for recruiting more distributors, so you talk friends and family into participating. The scheme grows exponentially but then falls apart - the only ones who make a profit are the criminals who started it.

  • Unknowing involvement in criminal activity
    Criminals - often located overseas - sometimes use unwitting victims to advance their operations, steal and launder money, and maintain anonymity. For example, they may "hire" you as a U.S.-based agent to receive and re-ship checks, merchandise, and solicitations to other potential victims…without you realizing it’s all a ruse that leaves no trail back to the crooks.

Add identity theft to the mix. As if these schemes aren’t bad enough, many also lead to identity theft. During the application process, you’re often asked to provide personal information that can be used to steal from your bank account or establish new credit cards in your name.

On the job. A host of law enforcement and regulatory agencies investigate these schemes and track down those responsible. But the most effective weapon against these fraudsters is you not falling for the scams in the first place.

A few tips:

  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to determine the legitimacy of the company.

  • Be suspicious when money is required up front for instructions or products.

  • Don’t provide personal information when first interacting with your prospective employer.

  • Do your own research into legitimate work-at-home opportunities, using the "Work-at-Home Sourcebook" and other resources that may be available at your local library.

  • Ask lots of questions of potential employers - legitimate companies will have answers for you!

  • Keep in mind that every successful business is successful because it has happy customers. Try to find those who worked with the company before, but do not use the "company's" own testimonials. That's where everybody falls, as they believe everything without doing research. There are over 1,000 forums on this topic on the Internet.

And if you think you’ve been the victim of a work-at-home scam, file a complaint at your local authorities.

 

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AboutMe

I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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