401-651-7118 cold called my cell phone with a recording

This was a telemarketing call from 401-651-7118 to my cell phone.

When I answered I heard a recorded message starting with "This is account services" and telling me I was eligible for lower interest rates and this was my "final notice." No company name was given.

I pressed "1" and got a live agent. I told her not to call me again. "Sure," she said, and disconnected.

That was a stark reminder that I must not have put my cell phone on the DNC registry. I guess Verizon and AT&T treated mobile numbers as unlisted numbers, but T-Mobile doesn't? Anyway, here's how to do it...

Federal Trade Commission Do-Not-Call Registry
Consumers can register on-line for the national do-not-call registry by going to http://www.donotcall.gov/. To register by telephone, consumers may call 1-888-382-1222: for TTY call 1-866-290-4236. You must call from the phone number you wish to register.

After your number has been on the DNC registry for 31 days, you may file complaints by calling the same number or going to the same web site above.

Even when you're on the DNC, not all unsolicited calls are prohibited. Nonprofits and companies you do business with can still call you.

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Why Install Firefox: The One Good Reason You Need 2 Browsers

I was traveling on business, dependent on my laptop for e-mail. My hotel and the conference center both provided wi-fi. All was well.

Then one morning I started up my Windows PC and Internet Explorer started crashing. No error message, just "poof!" it would close itself immediately.

Could I Google the problem and find a fix?

No, because my browser didn't work. I could get e-mail, though, right?

No, because the wi-fi hot spots required me to open a browser and accept their terms of service before they would renew my IP address.

Could I check for Windows updates? No internet access.

Could I download another browser, like Firefox? No browser to download it with.

I was stuck. What did I do? I skipped a session of the conference and, while everyone else was busy, I got onto one of the sponsored public kiosk PCs. I had a USB drive with me, and USB had not been disabled on the kiosks. I downloaded and saved the Firefox installer on the USB drive, then transferred that to my PC.

With the second browser, I was able to get on the internet again, catch up on my e-mail, and look for a fix for IE.

My lesson: Always have 2 browsers installed, whether it's Safari, Opera, Chrome, or Firefox. Because IE can quit unexpectedly, and being without it is a much bigger pain than I would have imagined.


How Bloggers Get Bought Off and Why You Shouldn't Trust Social Media

Sometimes a legitimate-looking post is hiding something.
Blogs started as a way for people to share thoughts with friends. Today, social media spam is rampant, albeit usually obvious. Or is it?

Before you outright trust what you read in a blog, consider whether the blogger (or Twitter user, or Facebook profilee) is being bought off. I mean paid secretly for convincing you to buy something. Does that person really think thus-and-such a product is wonderful? Did they really try it and make money, get skinny, win friends? Would they tell you if they received commissions for every purchase resulting from their "honest sharing?"

Today I received this e-mail, a classic example of how bloggers get started misleading their readers. This kind of communication happens in the dark alleys of the blogosphere. Let's drag it into the light of day. Here's the e-mail, received shortly after midnight...

Hi my name is [omitted] and I'm a blog spotter. I basically
scour popular blogs in an effort to find great writers. I
loved your post on [first words of recent post title], nice job!

I'd like to get straight to the point.

Our client wants people like you to sponsor their products
and will pay you to do so.

They're launching an educational product on [date]
that teaches others how to make money on the internet by
using Facebook and Social Media.

We want to pay you for recommending that product to your
loyal blog readers and we will pay you up to $200 for each
person that you refer. If you make just one sale a day
you're looking at making around $6000 per month.

All you need to do is create a few blog posts that recommend
this product. You may also
use one of our nice banners and place it on your blog.

It's pretty simple, takes very little time (10 minutes or
so) and will be very rewarding.

All sales that you refer are tracked through your own
special link and you will get paid every week. Payments are
always on time and will be sent to you via Check.

This deal is totally legitimate and we will NEVER ask you
for any fee, or to sign any contracts.

What do you need to do if you are interested?

I have more details, a video and instructions for you here:

[URL omitted]


Note that anyone could accept this offer and blog or tweet their hearts out about the "educational product." The sender of the e-mail doesn't suggest that the recipient hide their business relationship to the product.

Bloggers often simply leave their morals in a drawer, hoping to take more money to the bank. It's not hard to gush about a company. It's just too easy to leave out the part about "I get paid to say this" or "I stand to make financial gain when I 'Like' this."

People who write "social media" should adhere to a simple ethic: disclose the existence of vested interests and conflicts. The truth is, many do not.

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OPPapers.com charging students for articles that are free online

This looks like nothing less than outright plagiarism. "OPPapers.com has a huge online library of free essays and free term papers on almost any topic" -- and that's where I just found an article I published 5 years ago, verbatim.

Except neither the magazine nor I ever gave anyone permission to use it as a term paper!

If students are having trouble writing their term paper, research paper, or essay, OPPapers will charge them $30 a month to download "free essays," which, in my case, OPPapers.com copied from an online magazine.

There is no excuse for this. Plagiarism is globally illegal, universally unethical, and a horrible disservice to students.


Get Yer Bad English Term Papers Here!

We're accustomed to seeing terrible English in spam -- but this latest trend in comment spam has me rolling on the floor laughing.

A seller of term papers is spamming blogs with comments like this one:

The funniest part is the URL, which I won't repeat here, but it contains the keyword "quality." (It doesn't say what level of quality, though.)
I think that there is no reason to compose the expository essay by your own! As for me, that is better to buy the critical essay at the (URL omitted) comparison essay writing service, just because that can save free time.

The saddest part is that there are ESL students who won't have enough English skills of their own to realize just how bad an idea it would be to buy an essay from a company that can't give its own "social media marketing team" a gramatically correct comment to post.

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Republican National Committee 2010 Obama Agenda Survey

Fundraising campaign, thinly disguised as a "survey," spells out the agenda of the Party of "No." The letter makes it clear that the only checkbox that matters is the one indicating the amount of the recipient's donation to the RNC.

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Medical Benefits Association spam-calling my cell phone with a pre-recorded message

"This is a public service message from the Medical Benefits Association ...." began the recorded message when I answered my cell phone in the middle of the workday. "Press 1 to obtain important information..."

The Caller ID was "unknown caller" and the number was 877-249-3538. I shouldn't have answered it, but I did.

If you get one of these, first, stay on the line and press 2 "to be removed from their database." Who knows if it actually does anything other than to instantly disconnect the call.

Second, write down the Caller ID information and the time of the call.

Then go to the FCC site for telemarketing complaints about prerecorded calls. Fill out the short form (1088C) and submit it. You'll get a letter confirming your complaint. Do this every time they call.

Finally, put your numbers into the National Do-Not-Call Registry.

Other reports of Medical Benefits Association telemarketing:
Telemarketers keep calling me: Mar 9: Recording of "This is a ...
(480) 543-1180 / 4805431180
(888) 514-5824 / 8885145824