My dad has a charge on his credit card bill that he didn't know about, so I looked into it. The charge line said "NMX*Franklin Prosperity," which didn't give much of an explanation, but I did a web search, and bingo.
It turns out to be a publication from the ultra-conservative website, Newsmax. The moment I saw that, I knew that something was up -- because my dad would avoid reading Newsmax like the plague. "Scam" is too harsh a term, but it's a close-enough cousin because the company goes out of its way (to its credit) to not only explain that they understand the publication isn't for everyone, but also give instructions how to get the charge reverse. In fact, searching for "nmx franklin prosperity" brings up a long list of websites and at the top are a lot of listings with names that give away that a LOT of people got charged, don't know why and are unhappy about it.
So, we won't go with "scam." We'll just keep it as "smarmy, underhanded tactic. Bordering on scam."
The publication is one that gives financial advice. You get sent a trial subscription (with an automatic charge -- so much for "trial") if you request one of their free publications about great adventure bargains for seniors. My dad is 92, so he's not looking for great adventures, whether a bargain or not, so I didn't guess he ordered that, except by mistake. It turns out he didn't -- though he did receive an email offer about a brochure on how the Affordable Care Act affects Medicare, and he did order that, not knowing it was from Newsmax. Mind you, giiven that it is from Newsmax, I suspect it's a very short booklet explaining why Obamacare should be repealed...) But ordering the publication automatically must have triggered in their "trial offer" for this NMX Franklin Prosperity newsletter, and he was charged $59 for it.
As I said, a simple websearch did have several ways to have Newsmax cancel this billing, and I opted for the toll-free call, preferring to rely on a real person with a name (I spoke with Tiki...), rather than sending in their email form. She did try to sell me some other publications, but I cut her off quickly and said, no, just cancel this. She was polite about it, and all was accomplished. Assuming the charge does get reversed next month.
Anyway, it's a good thing to keep an eye out for, especially if you know people who do click on online offers.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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