Cost of "Free" Adult
Content Adds Up
You're surfing the web and come across
an adult entertainment site that claims to offer content
for "free" and doesn't require a credit card
number for access. All you have to do is download a
"viewer" or "dialer" program. What
to do? Since you're at the site to view content, downloading
a "viewer" program might make sense. A "dialer"
program? What's that? And who cares? You're getting
But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
warns that there's a catch: Once the program is downloaded
on to your computer, it disconnects the Internet connection
you had and reconnects to an international long-distance
phone number, at rates between $2 and $7 a minute. You
could end up with a phone bill for hundreds of dollars
for calls to places like Vanuatu in the Southwest Pacific,
Chad, Guyana or Madagascar.
FTC officials say that because these
scams are so lucrative for the operators, it may be
only a matter of time before they appear on sites that
feature games, psychics, gambling and other services.
Here's how you can minimize your chances
of downloading a "viewer" or "dialer"
program that could turn "free" content into
an expensive mistake:
- Be skeptical when you see opportunities to view
"free" content on the web. Free doesn't
always mean free.
- Clicking "OK" isn't always okay. Don't
click OK unless you know exactly what you're agreeing
to. Read online disclosures carefully. They may be
buried several clicks away in pages of small print.
In addition, read the language in the gray boxes on
- Beware of any program that enables your modem to
re-dial to the Internet. If you see a dialog box on
your computer indicating that it's dialing when you
didn't direct it to, cancel the connection and hang
up. Check the number you're dialing and continue only
if it's a local call.
If the content you want to view leads
to a "viewer" or "dialer" program
or you find unauthorized charges on your phone bill,
file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission,
toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use
the complaint form at www.ftc.gov.