We all have seen them. The products and services that are advertised on our televisions in the wee, morning hours or between sports broadcasts on Sunday. Maybe even the occasional product sold during prime time. Many times while we watch we are thinking to ourselves, “Why didn’t I think of that?” We listen to the testimonials of those who have made millions selling real estate or those who have lost 150 pounds using the ultimate method of weight loss. What about those products that can slice and dice seven apples in less than a minute? “Can this be true?” “What is the catch?” “It is a free call and I don’t have to order. I will simply see what this is really all about.” So you pick up the phone to call, but do you really know with whom you are speaking? Chances are, you may have talked to me at one time. You see, I was an inbound operator for a company who contracted work from the companies who sell the products you see on TV. I am about to reveal some scary facts that will make you think twice about ordering those products from the TV.
While surfing the Internet for work at home jobs, I was intrigued when I came across a company advertising the opportunity to make money taking orders on your home computer for various companies. I filled out an application, sent in my 1099 form, and did eight hours worth of training online. Finally, I was given a test in which I passed with no problem. “Mrs. X you are going to make a wonderful contractor. I hope that you will enjoy working with us.” Just like that, I was hired.
Every evening I would log onto my computer and my phone line would begin to ring with people who wanted to place an order for an “As Seen on TV” product. I was constantly busy. Customers were ordering these “As seen on TV” products like crazy. Besides the abundance of obscene calls I received, I was very content with my job for several months until one customer asked the question that caused me to quit the company.
“May I have your credit card number in groups of four, please?” I asked a very polite man who was ordering a food dehydrator.
“Well I wanted to know the price before I give my information to you.” He said.
“Sir, unfortunately the computer software that I am using will not give me any information regarding the product until I get all the information on this screen.” I told him, as I had told many others.
“How do I know that you are not going to use my information to charge other things to my account?” he inquired quite frankly.
I didn’t know what to say. The truth was that I could have written down all of his information. His credit card number along with the three digit identification number on the back, his address, phone number, email address, and any other information I wanted were right there on my computer screen in my guest bedroom. It was simple, all I had to do was to hit the print screen button on my keyboard and I would have a permanent record of his information. I could not believe the amount of confidential information that was being handed to me with no questions asked.
The Bottom Line:
The consumer trusts that the “As seen on TV” products are as they are portrayed on TV and that the customer service representative can be trusted. A background check was required before I began work, however, I was hired as an independent contractor. This means that I am free to hire anyone that I want. I simply give them my login information and they can then take over my job, while I pay them as I see fit. Even though I did not have a criminal history, anyone I hired to work for me could have. The bottom line is this, credit card fraud and identify theft are common crimes in today’s society. “As Seen on TV” products or any products in which you are required to call an 800 number to order are invitations to these crimes. Even a person who has never stolen a thing in their lives would be tempted by or at least think about what they could buy or do with someone else’s credit card and personal information at their fingertips.
You never know who you are speaking with and the companies who contract these individuals don’t either. If the product is a “must have” try and order it online, just search for “As Seen on TV” in your search engine. The Internet is not the most secure way to obtain your merchandise either, but it is certainly harder for thieves to get your information, since they must have some knowledge of how to do it, rather than your calling and handing your personal information over to a stranger. My advice, as an operator for these companies, is to wait. Most “As Seen on TV” products will be available in stores shortly after the infomercials stop airing. Furthermore, you will be buying the product at a much lower price from local retailers without paying the outrageous shipping costs.