It seems that the number of ways consumers face financial risk online is expanding rapidly. No matter what we measures we take to protect ourselves, it seems that professional online scams are one step ahead of us. An online conversation tonight with a business friend triggered my to recall two recent suspected consumer frauds. I say ‘suspected frauds’ because while the evidence is convincing in my situation, I can’t just assume that it applies to others. Even so, it makes sense to spread the word so other people are on the lookout for similar problems.
Bank bill pay shortages
About two years ago I discovered that one large Pennsylvania bank was systematically ripping off my business accounting clients through its online banking bill pay system. When bill pay checks drawn against customer accounts were not cashed, it never credited back the amount to the customer. The practice was found in multiple customers over two years. I reasoned that it was likely they were ripping off others customers also, and estimated that the amount could easily reach millions. I took the time to carefully document the rip-off and sent my evidence through an online complaint form to the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities. The regulator wrote back an email to thank me for my communication but said that they did not have the budget to pursue such an issue!
Verizon Wireless data use measurement
I suspect there is a scam in the way Verizon Wireless measures data usage. I don’t use wireless for streaming service, just typical business use. My work habits and internet usage remain pretty much the same month-to-month, year after year. For example, I use Microsoft Office with OneDrive and Facebook and I read online newspaper through my cellular data service plan. Yet Verizon showed my data usage growing month-to-month from about 12 GB a year ago to more than 60 GB per month in November. This unexplained growth in usage was at first doubted by Verizon Wireless employees. One said that I couldn’t be using more than 20GB without using streaming services. When I switched to another company this past November, without changing any of my online work habits, the data use immediately dropped back to 14K last month. I called several times to express my concern. To Verizon people promised an investigation after I detailed my concern but neither got back to me. Bottom line is that I suspect Verizon is systematically ripping people off through their data measurement plan.