Verizon Voicemail Callback Problems

I have yet to find an acknowledgment by Verizon that a problem does indeed exist with the callback feature with Verizon voicemail.  The scenario is as follows:  You are checking your voicemail and you press 88# which directs voicemail to call back the number from which the person left the message.

The service used to work with 100% reliability. For the past several months, however, the service fails to dial the number and you wait listening to dead air until you finally realize that it is not going to work.  Often, if you hangup and dial *86 to access voicemail again, you will be told that your account has no access to the system.  This forces you to hang up and try again.

I would estimate that on any given day, the callback service works between 33-50% of the time.  If you do not have unlimited minutes on your plan, this can result in several minutes of lost time per month, as you must listen back through previously heard messages again.  Others with whom I have spoken, report similar experiences for those using the service.  Verizon help desk will act like they have never heard of this problem, but there is no doubt that a systematic problem exists.

Fraud Alert – OKpet.com sells fake Frontline® for cats and dogs

You come home to find Rover or Whiskers scratching fleas.  You know you should get some Frontline® from your local vet, but you just can’t afford it.  But a quick search on the internet delivers several websites with discount products.

OKpet.com is one of those sites.  They advertise Frontline® for a medium dog for only $29 – what a deal!  It seemed to take a long time to get there, and when it finally arrived, you realize why.  You notice it had to go through US customs – 1st red flag.

Upon closer inspection, you will see directions in both English and some backward language – literally, the words go right to left – 2nd red flag.  At this point, you could dowse your pet with the suspect liquid and hope it kills fleas instead of your pet.  Personally, I wouldn’t chance it.  What you have, my friend, is genuinely COUNTERFEIT Frontline®!

Here are the facts, folks:

  1. Frontline does not have an expiration date.  If your Frontline® has an expiration date, then it ain’t Frontline®.
  2. If there are stickers from Africa, Australia or your product was shipped from some other country across the great pond, be suspicious.
  3. Go to http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/petproduct.htm, http://frontline.us.merial.com/ or visit your vet for more information.

Will My Healthcare Costs Shrink?

For the record, my monthly healthcare premium is $562.55 as of March 22, 2010.  I’ll be returning next year to report what savings I have garnered.  I will be fair and take into account any tax credits that offset my premiums.  I will also add back any tax increases used to fund healthcare related programs.

I already know the outcome, but I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Facebook Spyware Threats

Over and over I see customers having their Facebook accounts hijacked and falling prey to spyware spawned from social networking.  Hopefully the information provided will help someone avoid these common internet pitfalls.

In this scenario, you log into Facebook and you receive a notification alert.  It could be something like “Johnny posted a link…” or “Jenny tagged you in this photo”.  You click on the link and the next thing you know, your computer is now sending all your friends random bogus messages and repeating the process that just occurred to you.  This kind of spyware can be easily removed with programs like Malwarebytes.

The more insidious infection will lead you to believe that you have been logged out of Facebook and request that you log back in.  The login page will look just like the legitimate one.  Once you have “logged in”, the hackers will now own your account because you just gave them your username and password.

This form of identity theft has far reaching effects.  Hackers can then solicit your friends for money with stories of being on vacation and the losing one’s wallet.  Even worse, they can login to your email account (if you use the same password) and start resetting passwords for other accounts you have (eg. Ebay, Paypal, online banking, etc.).  You may even find that the person who controls your accounts has also changed the answers to security questions, making them extremely difficult to reclaim.

If this has happened to you, immediately take the following action:  First, call your bank and immediately suspend any credit/debit cards that have been used or are tied to ANY online entities.  Next, change the passwords for EVERYTHING that used the same password as your Facebook account.  Create a new email address that you can use in the interim to contact any friends or business that may be affected by the security breach.  Contact places like Ebay by phone and make sure “You” aren’t selling or buying anything.  Finally, created a temporary Facebook account and tell all your friends to report your hijacked account as being stolen under “Report/Block this Person” ->  “Report this Person” -> “Fake Profile” -> “This profile is Hacked”.  Then try to reclaim your Facebook account by contacting Facebook directly.

If that sounds like a real painful online experience, may I suggest taking the following preemptive action: Go create a new email address with Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or similar.  Do NOT use this account for anything except Facebook.  Do NOT use the same password for this account as you do for any other accounts.  Update your email address and password on Facebook, so it now corresponds with this newly created email address.  Lastly, if you are ever asked to log back into Facebook, don’t assume your login expired or it somehow doesn’t think you are logged in anymore.  If in doubt, simply go back to the address bar and type in http://facebook.com and safely log back in there.

If you have been the victim of a Facebook related hack or have other useful advice, feel free to share your experience.

Government mandated healthcare is one Christmas present I’d like to return

Now that Democrats have rammed healthcare legislation down our collective throat on Christmas Eve,  we’re assured that we will all come around once we realize the healthcare improvements in 2014.  This is supposedly the most complex issue ever tackled by Capital Hill, yet the arguments defy even the most elementary reasoning.

Millions of new applicants will now be covered, regardless of pre-existing condition or medical history.   Somehow, healthcare will suddenly be “affordable” for these previously uninsured individuals and for those of us currently paying premiums.  Gee, how easy this all was.  Why couldn’t we have just waved this political magic wand 20 years ago?

Perhaps the voting public wasn’t stupid enough  yet 20 years ago.  Most likely this is the first time in history that enough socialists were simultaneously in office to affect this kind of policy and intrusion into our lives.  Some very basic examination illuminates the fallacy of this healthcare legislation.

You don’t need a CBO report or another “impartial” examiner of the numbers to know they can’t work.  Some truths are as constant as gravity.  For one thing, you can’t force an insurance company to cover high risk insureds and think premiums are going anywhere but up, up and away!  Overall costs are also misstated by deferring most benefits.  If this new plan could actually pay for itself, do you think we would collect revenue 4 years prior to most of it’s implementation?

This “healthcost” plan was sold to a gullible public as a “something for nothing” pipe dream.  Hopefully this BLOG will still exist in years to come  as I make the following predictions:

  1. Costs will go up at an equally or faster rate than before the bill is signed into law.
  2. Care will be rationed as incentive for current and future doctors is squashed by Federal regulation and income caps.
  3. Within the next decade virtually all of us will be on a public “option” insurance plan as private insurance will become so expensive that  only the very rich and your favorite Congressman will be able to afford it.

Vista Print – Buyer Beware as complaints and charges of online scam by unhappy customers

Looking for a cheap place to buy business cards?  You might find companies like vistaprint.com near the top of your Google search.  Your “cheap” cards might end up costing you a lot of extra money.  Here is the scam – and it IS a scam!

You get ready to place your order and you are offered $10 off because it claims you were a previous customer.  The next month you may see a curious charge or two.  They might be called things like Mvq*Vpclubus and Mvq*Bizmax; and each of them is a $14.95 charge against your account.

When I saw these charges, I googled them and things pointed to vistaprint.com.  Since we had just purchased business cards from them, I assumed these were the charges for the cards and moved on.  I didn’t realize that this was the second month these charges had been made. 

I am one of many Americans paying bills online and am guilty of not staying on top of my charges.  Having reviewed these charges, I have since learned that I have been charged $14.95 TWICE each month since May!  Shame on them and shame on me for not monitoring this better.

Additional google searches have returned complaints against these fraudulent charges and the company.  One complainant offered their 1-800 number to call.  We called 1-888-243-6185 and spoke with Eric and then a supervisor  who were both very helpful and assured us that in two business days we would be refunded ALL charges.

We did receive an email shortly after stating this intention, but others have been promised the same and continued to receive charges.  I will give the employees of Vistaprint the benefit of the doubt, and will follow up when this is resolved.

* Update: September 22, 2009 – As promised, our account was refunded $14.95 x 8 for the 4 months these charges occured.  I encourage any other victims to call the 888 number above.