Recently a client of mine was very excited to try downloading music after getting high-speed internet. After several searches for unlimited music download services, she came across a site that was ranked #1 among several user review sites. For $14.99 a year, she could get unlimited free downloads to songs, movies, and more! Sound to good to be true?
More and more complaints have been issued against these types of music download service companies. My client was just another statistic in the practice of fraudulent music download services. When she signed in to her account for the first time, she was directed to several articles on how to burn CD's and websites such as Yahoo and Google where she could “search" for her own “free" music. She was also charged an additional $17.00 for spyware software that she didn't order.
We contacted the customer service department on behalf of the client. After being on hold a long while, we were forwarded to the manufacturer of the spyware program that she never agreed to ordering. Further investigation provided us with long lists of reports on this and similar websites offering unlimited “free" downloads. They were selling information that anyone could get for free, and the FTC was on to them.
While several cases are pending, there will never be a way to fully rid the cyber-world of these types of fraudulent service providers. What can you do to protect yourself? Here are some basic rules:
1. Do a little research. Check with online review forums that are reputable and well-known. Don't respond to a pop-up ad or spam. (The user reviews that ranked this particular service provider as #1 were listed on a site owned by the spyware software company, and the reviews were never real. )
2. Remember that songwriters and performers want to get paid for their songs. If a service is offering unlimited downloads to your PC to burn CD's, these artist are usually not getting paid. Bigger name services allow unlimited download to MP3 players to be used by one listener only. If you see that newest top 40 hit available for free download to your PC, beware. You may be participating in piracy, a crime punishable with jail time or hefty fines.
3. Read the fine print. All reputable service providers should offer a “try it and see" period to test the waters. If a company states that they don't offer refunds under any circumstances or charge a fee to reimburse you for unused membership fees, get away fast!
Linsey Knerl is a writer and homeschooling mother of three who enjoys parenting and all of life's blessings with her husband in rural Nebraska. Her work can be see at http://www.LinseyBKnerl.com .