Scammed Youth Cry For Consumerist’s Aid

They really don’t teach kids these days anything about finance. Actually, they never did, as our credit history attests. In this vein, Dustin sends us a frantic plea for help.

He received an email this morning informing him that $29.95 was debited from his checking account by PCJava.com. Dustin doesn’t remember authorizing this charge. A visit to PCJava.com reveals an unfinished shopping site of sorts. If you try to add something to your cart, it shows up as zero dollars.

Our 18-year-old reader says he sent an email to his bank. They’re supposed to call him tomorrow. Meanwhile, he’s freaking out, because $30 is a lot when you’re in college.

Ahem.

The good news is that debits are protected up to $50, so you’re covered on this one. The bad news is that if if you don’t put down the peace pipe and pull your phone out of the bath of Ramen Noodle soup and call your bank, you could get hosed for a lot more.

Call now. Report the charges. The End.

Golly jenkins, universities should start making Intro to Consumerism and Banking a required frosh course.

Comments

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  1. AcilletaM says:

    Did he try contacting their customer support?

  2. bambino says:

    You’re so condescending.

    I like it.

  3. Ben Popken says:

    He did, and the email bounced.

  4. major disaster says:

    This sounds suspiciously like it could be a new incarnation of a long-running scam where large numbers of credit and debit cards get hit with small bogus charges. By doing it in volume but for small amounts of money, they assume many people just won’t notice.

    See here:

    http://www.robertkbrown.com/2006/04/29/uwebtemplate.html

    No mention of pcjava.com there, but the actual name of the “company” seems to change every once in a while, so this might be a new one.

  5. major disaster says:

    Ack, sorry. I don’t know why the link did that.

  6. Try living on $20 a week, in NYC at NYU.

    Blegh.

  7. AcilletaM says:

    Doing a network lookup on pcjava.com comes up with the domain VITALIX.NET. Google search that and get a lot of links about spyware, which corresponds with this I found searching for the software name FileGrabber the site offers (with a price option of $29.95 btw).

    Would young Dustin have perhaps been visiting sites such as MovieLand, MoviePass.tv, Popcorn and MediaCaster.net?

    If he has, his computer is probably hosed with spyware too.

  8. AcilletaM says:

    Oh, on a fun side note, searching for FileGrabber also brings up a ton of AOL links.

  9. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    Yup smells like spyware to me. You’ve got identity theft.

  10. magic8ball says:

    Do you also have to send your bank a registered letter to document the fact that you’ve notified them of the fraudulent charge? Otherwise they can string you along until the period for disputes has passed and make you pay for it after all. But perhaps this guy’s bank is to nice to do that over a paltry (to them) thirty bucks.

  11. anjamu says:

    This same thing happened to me last summer. I was charged $102 for a purchase I “made” with “Virtual Mall Center.”

    When I called my bank to dispute the charge, the wholly unhelpful CSR told me to call the company and ask them about the charge. Googling them turned up no website (begging, of course the question of “How can I make an online purchase from a website that doesn’t exist?”) and one cell phone number that led to a full mailbox.

    Because I kept a minimal amount of money in my checking account, and had been debiting as if those $100+ dollars were still there, the charge had sent me into major overdraft territory – I owed the bank $300 or thereabouts. They told me that it would take about three weeks to straighten it out and clear the charges, and in the meantime I was out of luck on the “using my debit card” front.

    As it was a local bank and I was interning in another state, eventually my mother was the one who went in, talked to someone face-to-face for me, and got things cleared up in under three weeks.

    Do the same: call, but then also go to the bank and be persistent about things. A lot of times they don’t take students seriously because they don’t have a lot of money.

  12. dustboo says:

    I read about the file grabber thing on the website too, but here’s the thing: I’m on a mac. So I know that I didn’t download anything, as it would have been absolutely pointless! I don’t know how the charges came about or anything… But I’m going to call my bank right now as they haven’t called me back yet. Thanks everyone for looking into the company for me, though!

    Dustin

  13. wstanton says:

    Young men and women should also check out a developing blog dedicated to personal finance for youth. Please do so @ http://finance4youth.wordpress.com

    They will be glad they did. This problem will be discussed in pretty significant detail in the near future.