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Scam Involving “Free Software CD” Comes to a Close

A company that was campaigning 'free software CDs' but unlawfully billing customers' credit cards without their authorization has temporarily stopped its marketing practices due to a directive from a Magistrate in the United States.

The FTC said 'Think All' was advertising free software through its Web site. By just paying a shipping fee of $1.99 or $2.99, consumers could obtain titles ranging from anti-virus to genealogy. There were many takers to this idea who scanned the "terms of use" and offered their credit card number to pay the paltry shipping fee.

The company offered three more free software CDs to those who signed up for the original CD. They would also not have to pay the additional shipping or handling charges. The consumers felt encouraged and supplied their names, addresses and a credit or debit card number over the Internet.

The transaction concludes with the consumer submitting in a box that asks for his/ her agreement to the 'terms of use'. The terms elaborated on the software licensing arrangements and usage rules, but many consumers entered OK in the box without reading the entire content of the form.

A critical point was embedded in the eighth paragraph of the terms of use. It said customers must return two of the four CDs within 10 days or pay between $39 and $47, which will be automatically charged to their bills. It also says customers will be entitled for a free software continuity program, in which they will receive CDs that will be billed if they didn't return them within 10 days.

According to the FTC, only after the billing, did most consumers come to know about the hitherto unknown charges. The company Web site does not provide any phone number except for an address. As of February 5, 2007 the Web site, www.thinkall.com remained offline.

The federal judge agreed with FTC in that Think All went against the federal Unordered Merchandise Statute. Under that companies cannot charge customers for stuff they didn't order. Post the halt of the company's marketing; FTC is after it to refund the people who received the alleged bills.

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