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Q: Web Hosting Fraud ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Question  
Subject: Web Hosting Fraud
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: gambo-ga
List Price: $12.00
Posted: 23 Apr 2002 21:14 PDT
Expires: 23 May 2002 21:14 PDT
Question ID: 3284
About 18 months ago I received "second notice" in the mail from a collections 
agency that I owed $1200 for payment of hosting a website that I had never 
heard of before.  I did not receive a first notice and had not done any 
business with the hosting company before (major hosting company).  I looked up 
this website at Network Solutions, and discovered that my name and address were 
listed, but the e-mail address was not mine.  I wrote a registered letter back 
to the collections agency disputing this claim, and it was forwarded back to 
the hosting company.  I contacted the hosting company and found they also had 
my phone number on file, but the credit card used was not mine, and that 
individual was apparently in the same situation that I was.  Following this, I 
did not receive any communication from the hosting company or collections for 
about 9 months, then got a phone call from a collections agency, who left a 
message on my answering machine.  I tried calling the number back and got an 
individual person's voicemail, who was not the person that left the message.  

The domain is scheduled to disappear in June 2002, and I received a renewal 
notice last week in the mail.  I have not had the hosting company contact me 
beyond this.  I am assuming that my information was pulled off the internet, I 
have not determined where, but I have been avoiding listing my address where 
possible.  Should I just let it pass, or what course of action could I take to 
have this charge removed?  What are my options if they decide to further pursue 
this?  I have received copies of my credit report from all 4 major credit 
reporting agencies and my records are clean.  I do not wish to name the company 
or website domain for my protection.  Thanks.
Answer  
Subject: Re: Web Hosting Fraud
Answered By: penguin-ga on 24 Apr 2002 08:50 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
 
Hi Gambo!

I am sorry this has happened to you. Identity Theft is a serious crime. 
Identity theft occurs when someone appropriates your personal information 
without your knowledge to commit fraud or theft. You have a clean credit 
record, and you should not let possible Internet Fraud ruin that for you. “In 
October 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act 
of 1998 (Identity Theft Act) to address the problem of identity theft. 
Specifically, the Act amended 18 U.S.C.  1028 to make it a federal crime when 
anyone:
knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of 
identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, 
any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that 
constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.
Violations of the Act are investigated by federal investigative agencies such 
as the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and 
prosecuted by the Department of Justice.”
Identity Theft, “Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act".       
http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/fedlaw.htm

I recommend sending the domain name a certified letter to explain your 
situation. If there is no response, or if you continue to receive collection 
notices, then you should report the incident at a Federal level.

I would like to introduce you to the National Fraud Information Center 
(NFIC). “The NFIC accepts reports about attempts to defraud consumers on the 
telephone or the Internet.”  Below is information you will find on their 
website. 
National Fraud Information Center
http://www.fraud.org/welcome.htm 

A great start would be to call the NFIC to report your case and speak to 
counselors who specialize in your situation. They will answer any general 
questions you have. The toll free number is 1-800-876-7060.

If you want to write to the NFIC, the address is: 
National Fraud Information Center
PO Box 65868
Washington, DC 20035

“Generally, to process fraud reports, the NFIC needs the following information: 
name of company, names of people you dealt with at the company, company address 
(including website or email address if you are reporting Internet fraud), 
company phone number, description of what good or service was offered, amount 
of money the company requested, the amount of money you actually paid, how the 
payment was made, date of first contact with company, date of payment, your 
name, address and phone number, and a short description of what happened. 
Please have this information readily available when you call. If you chose to 
write, please include all of the information in your correspondence.

“The NFIC does not take information such as consumers' credit card numbers or 
bank account numbers. Please do not include this information in your report. 
The NFIC would like to know how you made your payment to the company -- by 
giving your credit card or bank account information over the phone of Internet, 
by wiring money, sending it by a private courier service (please provide the 
name of service), by U.S. mail, or by other means. 
If you are mailing information to the NFIC, do not include the originals of any 
materials. You may need them later. Please send photocopies.”
National Fraud Information Center
http://www.fraud.org/welcome.htm

The NFIC has explained the next step in the process for you:
“We will enter the information in our state-of-the-art incident report system. 
We will relay your report to the appropriate federal, state or local law 
enforcement agencies. 
Your report will be transmitted to the National Fraud Database, maintained by 
the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Attorneys General. 
This information is available 24 hours a day to law enforcement agencies in the 
U.S. and Canada. 
Information you provide informs federal and state regulators of possible 
illegal telemarketing or Internet activities. While there is no guarantee that 
you will recover money lost to fraud, you can at least help stop fraud and 
punish wrong-doers.”
National Fraud Information Center
http://www.fraud.org/welcome.htm


Now I would like to introduce you to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center 
(IFCC), a reporting system developed by a partnership between the Federal 
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center 
(NW3C). To file a complaint with this organization, you may do so at their 
website.
Internet Fraud Complaint Center
http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/cf1.asp 

If you still have unanswered questions, contact the Federal Trade Commission 
Theft Hotline by telephone, toll-free 1-877-IDTHEFT (438-4338). Here is the 
address in case you would like to write:

Identity Theft Clearinghouse, 
Federal Trade Commission 
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580


Federal Trade Commission
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/idtheft.htm#credit

Additional Websites that may interest you: 

The National Fraud Information Center Online Incident Report Form
http://63.222.159.194/repoform.htm

To learn more about identity theft, read “Stopping Identity Theft: Protecting 
Your Privacy”
Better Business Bureau
http://www.bbb.org/alerts/Idtheft.asp


In the event your credit report shows this domain charge, notify the Federal 
Trade Commission, “How To Dispute Credit Report Errors”
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/crdtdis.htm


Search Terms Used: 
identity theft  internet "credit report"
identity theft  internet recovery
cyber fraud web domains or domain
"collection agency" errors correction FDCPA


I sure hope I have been some help to you in your unfortunate situation!

Penguin
gambo-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for the feedback, Penguin for the Identity Theft links, and
Watershed for the legal links.  I may need to locate a lawyer that
specializes in Internet-related issues if they decide to futher pursue
this.  I've never run a website before, and haven't had any charges
other than the collections bill show up.  I imagine the person that
owns the credit card may be getting stuck with these.

Comments  
Subject: Re: Web Hosting Fraud
From: watershed-ga on 23 Apr 2002 23:38 PDT
 
Greetings, Gambo.

I am sorry to hear about your situation.  I would definitely contact the 
company in question and try to arrive at a firm resolution for this problem.  I 
have found in my experience that these kind of things will usually come back to 
haunt you at a later date.  I believe that if you are unable to conclude this 
matter to your satisfaction, your best option may be to seek legal advice from 
an attorney who is specialized in these matters.  Regarding the use of your 
name and address, it is very difficult, if not impossible to determine how it 
was retrieved.  One source where it could be listed, if you happen to own any 
domains, may be a registrar(like Network Solutions). Also, there are hundreds 
of different sources on the internet for acquiring information that is in the 
public domain.  It might be something as simple as someone looking you up in a 
telephone book.  Here are some sites that may help you with this matter:

The National Fraud Center
http://www.fraud.org

Internet Fraud Complaint Center
http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp

Consumer Protection
http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/consumer.htm

More information about web fraud can be found here:

://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=online+fraud

Here are some sites that may help you with the legality of this issue:

CyberSource Fraud Resource Center
http://www.cybersource.com/fraud_resource_center/

NetScalped.com News Online Legal Issues
www.netscalped.com/legal.html

WORLDLawDirect - 24 hour online legal help
http://www.worldlawdirect.com

More information about the legality of online fraud can be found here:

://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=online+fraud+legal+advice

Hope this answers your question.  Good luck!

watershed
Subject: Re: Web Hosting Fraud
From: carlconrad-ga on 24 Apr 2002 02:44 PDT
 
If I knew what the domain name was I would do this for you...but since I do 
not, the way to check to see if you are still on the registration information 
would be to got to http://www.geektools.com/cgi-bin/proxy.cgi and type in the 
domain name.  You will either see your address pop up or you won't.  

It would seem that you have already done this since you know that it expires 
in June of 2002, but you don't say for sure...so I thought I'd throw it out 
there just in case.

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