ED Magedson – Founder
Pc Protect, Inc.480 Easts Pratt Street, 8th Floor Baltimore, Maryland United States of America
I have had several occasions where unauthorized phone charges have appeared on my phone bill. The way these scams work is that you go onto some website and enter your phone number and email address (for example, to obtain results of an on-line iq quiz--the irony!) and then they auto-bill your phone for some absurd service like credit card fraud protection, anti-virus protection or 1-800 service. In the past when I have caught this I have been able to have the "vendors" remove the charges because of course the "vendors" know they are not authorized. On my last phone bill, however, there were two monthly charges from "pc protect" that claims that my wife or I went to some website called "usprizedraw.com" (which I do not recognize) and authorized some kind of on-line computer protection which of course was never received. They also claim they sent a confirmation of the "order" to an email address that my wife and I have not used for over a year. In any event, I checked the account and there was no such email including in the spam folder. pc protect agreed to remove the October charge but not the September charge of $19.95 despite the fact that the first I learned of these charges was on my most recent phone bill.
I asked to speak to a supervisor there and spoke to one Alison Washington who claimed that the company was located in Baltimore MD. She sounded like an actual American and not someone overseas. She said there was no one higher at the company I could talk to.
I also spoke to Verizon which refused to remove the charge as well claiming that the ability of consumers to purchase things through their phone bill account was "valuable" to consumers. I don't know anyone who buys anything by billing it to their phone bill other than actual phone services. Moreover, there is absolutely no security against fraud--anyone with your home phone number and an email address can apparently bill charges to you. Verizon and the other phone companies surely receive compensation from the "vendors" and are not as innocent as they claim.
I also did a search for pc protect on line and found that a company with the name "pc protect, inc." has been in existence for about 10 months and that its president is one Linda Harper of Carson City Nevada. The name "Linda Harper" also came up as a customer contact for a company called "Billing Direct" on the Better Business Bureau website as having a "D" rating. The State of Nevada is well known for coddling fraudulent business enterprises and many crooked businesses choose to locate there.
I'm not sure what else I'm going to do about this but I have already contacted a class action attorney about filing a suit. I should disclose up front that I am attorney myself but I am not a class action lawyer but I am also thinking about bringing a class action myself. If anyone is interested in signing on, let me know. From what I can tell on the web, pc protect is not unique and the problem is not unique to Verizon. The phone companies may very well have some federal regulation that protects them from suit but they are the key in this because if you sue a company like pc protect they will just disappear and re-open under a new name. The only way to stop this for good is to force the phone companies to implement some kind of real security measures to protect consumers against unwarranted charges. I should note that you can ask your phone company to "block" these charges, although I am told this is not 100% foolproof. Also, you should not have to ask the company to "block" anything--the default rule should be no charges.
I am also considering reporting pc protect, Ms. Washington and Ms. Harper to civil and criminal authorities for further investigation. The fact that this is so easily permitted and that the phone companies are no doubt profiting from this means that this will be an uphill battle because let's face it the politicians are in the pockets of business lobbies. What I don't understand is that if companies like Verizon want to be free of regulation and lawsuits, why do they set themselves up like this? Verizon has a fairly good reputation. I even own some of their stock. I would think that an established company like this would want to keep its nose clean rather than eking out some additional profit from this kind of criminal activity.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/24/2009 08:48 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/pc-protect-inc/baltimore-maryland-21202/pc-protect-inc-phone-bill-fraud-baltimore-maryland-514255. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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