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July 20, 2009

Net IQ Tests Can be Draining (of Your Wallet)

Filed under: Internet,Telephone — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:22 am

iqtestIt seems innocent enough — an invitation to take an IQ test. 

They are advertised on Facebook, in Yahoo!, and on other sites.  Sometimes they even make you think that friends have already taken the test, and you are being challenged to beat them.  Other times you may get pop-ups saying that other people in your town have taken the test (they use your IP address to figure out your location).

If you click on the ad, you might be taken to a webpage that looks like this:

iqtesthome

There are ten questions to the test, and at the end you are asked to enter your cell phone number so the results can be texted to you.  At worst, you might think that you will be charged 10 or 20 cents for receiving a text message.

iqtestphone

What you don’t see when you take the test is a hidden footnote.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Summary terms:  This is an auto renewing subscription service that will continue until canceled anytime by texting STOP to short code 25692. Available to users over 18 for $9.99 per month charged on your wireless account or deducted from your prepaid balance for 3 alerts per week on T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Virgin Mobile USA, Cellular One, Cincinnati Bell, Centennial Wireless, U.S. Cellular, and Unicel 5 alerts per week). For $4.99 per month for 2 alerts per week on Cricket. For Mind Quiz support: text HELP to 25692, email mailto:25692@sms-helpdesk.comor call 18002357105 for automated help or call 18004166129 for a live operator. Standard messaging charges apply for Verizon Wireless, All other carriers, standard messaging and/or data rates may apply. Your phone must have text messaging capability. You must be the owner of this device or have permission from the owner. By signing up for this service and entering your personal PIN Code delivered to the cell phone number supplied by you on this website, you acknowledge that you are agreeing to thee full Terms of Use. Click here for full Terms & Conditions.

Translation: By filling in your cell number and entering your PIN number, you are agreeing to a MONTHLY $9.99 charge for who knows what.

What makes this offer so deceptive, is the manner in which the disclosure is made.  It is not merely a footnote.  It is hidden on the page.  You think you are looking at the entire IQ test screen when taking the test because of all the blank space below the test box. There is no disclosure visible.  In fact you have to scroll down beyond the blank space to find the disclaimer.  See sample (but don’t click).

Don’t fall for a scam like this.

• • •

19 Comments

  1. You should be able to go to your cell phone company and get the charge removed. I once downloaded a “free” ringtone without reading the mouseprint and got billed 10 dollars on my cell statement that would have turned into a monthly charge but I contacted at&t and the removed the charge. And I never even got the ringtone!!!!

    Comment by myra — July 20, 2009 @ 7:15 am
  2. There are several other advertisments that use this same ploy. I went through our credit card company and had a horrible time trying to get the $9.99 charge removed and after contacting the number that we were being billed from (which changed monthly) finally got them removed. So beware of other advertisments and ALWAYS read the mouseprint.

    Comment by Anita Richardson — July 20, 2009 @ 8:45 am
  3. wow! How can this be legal?

    Comment by Tundey — July 20, 2009 @ 9:38 am
  4. I very nearly fell for this. I took the test and wantd my results. I tried leaving out my number and seeing if the score would just pop up on the screen. I was about to provide it, but thought it very strange that they were so insistent on texting you results that could be just as easily displayed on your monitor. Then I noticed the scroll bar on the side of the screen and scrolled down to see that message.

    Comment by Ron — July 20, 2009 @ 9:44 am
  5. Whats even worse is that Facebook will put your facebook friends pictures in/next to the ad and give you the impression they took it too so you assume your friends aren’t stupid and that its a safe application. Here is a shot from my own screen showing my friends and asking me what one of their last names is to hook me in. http://www.pcsites.com/untitled.jpg this is by FAR the most deceptive part of this. Facebook should be ashamed to take money from folks like this who take money from their users pockets at a time like this!

    Comment by rahlquist — July 20, 2009 @ 10:10 am
  6. Same here. I ran through the questions, and was presented with a prompt for my cell number.

    I don’t like it when something like that starts asking for information beyond which is needed. I didn’t get my “result” oh well.

    This thing shows up all over Facebook, and sometimes likes to disguise itself as a legitimate looking button. Someone should shut these crooks down.

    Reminds me of a service a long time ago that allowed you to transfer your own midi files to your phone as a ringtone. It only cost a couple bucks to do it, so, no problem there. Nearly a year later I start getting monthly ads texted to me, at $10 a pop. Somewhere they changed their TOS to begin shafting existing customers.

    My account no longer has texting ability, I couldn’t get them to stop sending the messages.

    Comment by Mike — July 20, 2009 @ 10:15 am
  7. This is “Cramming”. I think it has pretty much ended for the land line phones, I guess it’s starting with cell phones.

    I find it interesting that Sprint wasn’t on the list of companies.. maybe they don’t accept 3rd party charges.

    BTW, if agree to a facebook app, you give that app access to everything in your profile. They may already have your mobile #, just not your “permission” to charge it. I never approve a 3rd-party facebook app. (and there are tons of them)

    Comment by Robert — July 20, 2009 @ 10:39 am
  8. If you have Verizon, you can block “Premium” text messages (which are ones that charge extra for texting). I found that out after my sister’s boyfriend started texting LavaLife from her phone (she’s on my account) and she got an extra $50 texting bill! It takes 5 mins to call 611 to get them to block them, or you can have them blocked from your account online.

    Comment by ajewel — July 20, 2009 @ 3:04 pm
  9. Maybe this is the ultimate IQ test. If you enter your cell phone #, maybe they send you a text telling you how stupid you are . . . and then remind you how stupid your are three times each week. What a scam! Can’t these people just go back to collecting a huge deposit to repair your roof, show up for one day and then you never see them again.

    Comment by Shawn — July 20, 2009 @ 3:39 pm
  10. About half of the ads I see on Facebook are scams falling into two categories: “IQ” quizzes of the sort Edgar mentions above, and “We need you to review a free camera/mac laptop”. They are obviously scams, but Facebook does nothing to block them. It’s a shame Facebook cares so little about their image that they’ll allow obvious con artists to advertise there.

    Comment by Alan — July 20, 2009 @ 3:47 pm
  11. Well, they did say it was an IQ test. Presumbly if you put in your mobile number, it sends a message that says “You flunk.”

    Comment by Kyralessa — July 20, 2009 @ 6:12 pm
  12. Just try to click the ‘X’ to close those windows that pop up. One ad after another appears.

    I’m wondering how many tracking cookies this site drops onto your system.

    Comment by Richard B. — July 20, 2009 @ 10:26 pm
  13. Shawn, brillant comment.

    Comment by Richard B. — July 20, 2009 @ 10:28 pm
  14. So, how many triangles are there? I count 13.

    Did I pass the IQ test?

    Comment by Bob — July 23, 2009 @ 4:05 pm
  15. Sorry Bob. 70 is a passing grade. I am sure if we work at it we can find 70 triangles. We may have to redefine the term “triangle” or or maybe change our numbering system from the base 10 to another base. I am sure a good politician or attorney could do it for us. They’re good at finding things that don’t exist. Maybe they could find triangles.

    Comment by John P. — July 24, 2009 @ 4:46 pm
  16. Let’s not overlook the appeal to human vanity in these kind of scams. The “IQ” test was simple and who doesn’t want to think they’re
    a genius? I took the test but the second they asked for a cell phone number I knew it was a scam.

    Comment by Jimbo — August 8, 2009 @ 9:43 am
  17. Ironically, the only way to ‘pass’ the IQ test is to not take it.

    I mean.. anytime you are voluntarily giving your cell phone number to an application, it is generally not a very smart thing to do.

    In related news, did ya know on facebook that your friend did NOT really just take it and score a XYZ? Yeah, its an advertisement that swipes your friend’s picture, then tacks on a message (so and so took IQ test and scored a 127!!1 R U Smarter?!?)

    Comment by Joe — August 19, 2009 @ 12:58 pm
  18. Even though Facebook has agreed to let a third party advertiser use your posted pictures without your permission, you can stop them in your settings in your Facebook account. Click on SETTINGS. Select PRIVACY SETTINGS. Select NEWS FEEDS AND WALL. Select the tab that reads FACE BOOK ADS. There is a drop down box, select NO ONE. Save your changes. Then post these direction on Facebook so all of your friends can do the same thing…

    Comment by GManuel — August 20, 2009 @ 12:24 pm
  19. Yet one more reason not to join places like Facebook! There is no “free-lunch”! That is how these sites make their money. Facebook, Spacebook, Twitter, they are all businesses. Those sites aren’t setup to make our lives easier. Even though they would have you think that was the case. The main purpose is to gather as much info as possible about each of us and then use it to their own financial benefit.

    And, why would anyone put their cell phone number out online?

    Comment by OMG — October 12, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

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