Surrounded by impostors, what’s a consumer to do?

Odua/Shutterstock
Odua/Shutterstock
You’re surrounded by fakes. The clothes you wear could be fake. The money you use? Not real, maybe. Even your “friends” on social media are sometimes fake.

What’s a consumer to do?

We’ve had a lively conversation about authenticity during the last two weeks, dissecting the problem of counterfeit electronics and phone cards. But as it turns out, the problem runs much deeper.

Fakes are everywhere.
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Is your phone card phony? 5 ways you can tell

phoneWhen is an hour just 36 minutes? When you buy some phone cards, apparently. That’s the conclusion of a recent Federal Trade Commission investigation, which found certain pre-paid calling cards offered an average of just 40 percent of call minutes customers thought they were buying — and some, significantly less.

You should care about this if you travel outside your wireless company’s regular calling area, because that’s when you’re likely to buy one of these cards. If you don’t read the fine print on the agreement, you could end up getting shorted by close to a half hour of talk time, according to the FTC.
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Are hidden hotel fees about to check out?

After Jane Hatch selected the room rate she wanted at the West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine, the hotel Web site delivered an unpleasant surprise on the next screen: The quoted price hadn’t included a $25-per-day “resort and club fee” that gave Hatch access to the hotel pool, hot tub and fitness center — whether she wanted it or not.

“They didn’t tell me until the end,” says Hatch, who lives in Montgomery Village, Md. “I still booked the room, but it was misleading and unbecoming, particularly for a new property looking to make its mark. Perhaps they don’t care in resort areas like Bar Harbor. But I care.”
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Who’s responsible for the scam epidemic?

For the 12th year in a row, ID theft is the number-one complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, the agency announced recently. It’s followed by the usual shenanigans, including debt collection schemes, bogus sweepstakes, and bank fraud.
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