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Better Business Bureau: Skid-e-Kids in trouble with the FTC

By Victoria Advocate
Dec. 3, 2011 at 6:03 a.m.


By Alan Bligh

As cyber sales go into full force, the Better Business Bureau says lookout for social media posts, emails, pop-up advertisements and websites touting too-good-to-be-true deals. Avoid unrealistic sales on iPads, e-readers and other popular electronic gadgets. Beware of the following:

Fly-by-night retailers who collect payment information with no intention of shipping products.

Slimy sellers who ship artificial or after-market goods, which often hold little value and break quickly.

Hackers who promote ads with low prices on "must-have" merchandise to get consumers to click on malicious hyperlinks or visit dangerous websites aimed at siphoning personal or financial data.

One way to find out who is naughty is to go to bbb.org and check out the company.

Here we go, again. Local businesses and consumers are receiving phony emails regarding an alleged consumer dispute. BBB has determined these emails contain a dangerous attachment or link that can spread viruses to affected computers. Businesses who receive these emails should delete them immediately. Reports to BBB indicate the phony complaint emails appear to be from a bbb.org email address. BBB reminds local businesses that any legitimate complaint correspondence will not come from a bbb.org email address. BBB does not send complaints as attachments via email. If your business receives a suspicious email referencing an alleged complaint, please disregard its message, and report the information to me.

A common consumer question: If I cannot pay my bill, can I force a creditor to accept what I can afford to pay? According to consumer attorney Richard Alderman, the amount you owe is determined by your agreement with the creditor. For example, if your car note is $387 a month, or your credit card minimum is a certain percentage of what you owe, that is the "legal" amount you owe. You cannot force the creditor to take anything less than that amount. If you pay less, you are "in default" and the creditor can take steps to collect the full amount owed. This does not mean, however, that you should not try to get the creditor to agree to take less. In many cases, the creditor will work with you and accept the amount you can afford to pay.

The Federal Trade Commission has settled with children's social networking site Skid-e-kids, which the agency said violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting personal information from children under age 13 without parental consent. The site, which targeted ages 7 to 14 and promoted itself as "Facebook and Myspace for kids," agreed to destroy the personal information of 5,600 children that the FTC said it had illegally collected without parental consent. The consent decree imposed a $100,000 civil penalty, all of which was suspended except for $1,000 if the company complies with the agreement. The message here is simple. This is just another reason for us as parents to keep a close watch on what our children do on the Internet.

Alan Bligh is the executive director of the Better Business Bureau in Corpus Christi. Contact him by email at abligh@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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