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Privacy Guard Scam Fraud Review and Evaluation

Effective Living

20091013tu-man-silhouette-head-black-whiteSummary. PrivacyGuard.com is a service provider of credit report monitoring and identity theft protection. Instructions on how to save $60 per year with Privacy Guard are provided at the bottom of this page below the review and disclosure of customer complaints and concerns about the Privacy Guard business practices. Some people claim that Privacy Guard is a scam and fraud. This report will explore this claim. Before signing up with Privacy Guard or any other credit report monitoring and identity protection service, we recommend reading the Consumer Reports article on credit report monitoring.

Free Annual Credit Report. Visit the Federal Trade Commission Fact Page for more information on credit reporting, monitoring, alerts, and identity protection services. The Federal Trade Commission suggests using the AnnualCreditReport.com website to obtain a free annual credit report by three agencies. Some credit reporting and monitoring businesses such as Equifax actually tell their potential customers about this free service. Others do not disclose this information. For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission web page dedicated to offering information about the Annual Credit Report.com site. Here is a short description:

AnnualCreditReport.com is a centralized service for consumers to request free annual credit reports. It was created by the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. AnnualCreditReport.com provides consumers with the secure means to request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).

Quick Review. A 5-year evaluation of Privacy Guard (conducted by the CDRG) revealed that the company provides an accurate and comprehensive credit reporting and monitoring service. Credit report monitoring services notify you if a change has been made to your credit report. Such changes may be an indication that someone has requested credit in your name.

Customer Complaints. Some people have complained that the partnership arrangement between PrivacyGuard and some financial institutions results in what is viewed as a deceptive practice of having customers sign up for the service as a “free trial” without being reminded later that they will be automatically charged for the service unless they cancel. The longer the period of time that the free-trial offered the worse it is because after one, two, or three months the customer will have long since forgotten about the service. A follow-up phone call or email would alleviate the legal liabilities and customer frustrations associated with this issue. Due to this self-defeating shortsightedness the PrivacyGuard parent company Trilegiant had to pay $25 million dollars in a class action lawsuit.

Service Cancellation. The process of canceling is quite easy. Simply call Privacy Guard at 877-202-8828 and request cancelation. Some people have stated that the company representatives attempt to do everything they can to convince you not to cancel, such as offering several months free. During the CDRG evaluation, several accounts were created and then cancelled without any difficulty.

Deceptive, Misleading and Manipulative Marketing Practices. Many online merchants use deceptive and manipulative practices with regard to pricing. The nature of the Internet makes this easy. For example, if you visit the Dell website to purchase a computer, it’s likely you will discover a special sale that ends, surprisingly, tomorrow. The sale ending date is generated as you visit the page. Website cookies make it possible for return visits to display additional savings. PrivacyGuard.com uses the UpSellIt.com Smart Agent technology to help increase their sales. The phrase ‘upsell’ refers to the practice of persuading a customer through psychological and emotional manipulation to purchase more than they originally wanted, or convincing them to purchase something they didn’t really want or need. The goal is to create need or desire where it didn’t exist before. Smart Agent is a fake chat session that leads website visitors to think that a real customer service person is helping them. The website visitor may never realize that they are having a text chat with a machine because the program attempts to respond with lifelike and relevant answers to questions. The way it works is similar to pornography and gambling websites. As a person attempts to close their browser window/page, they are unable to because a new message pops up and prevents them from doing so. The message states, “Wait! A live agent would like to talk to you about last minute savings.” There actually is no live human customer service representative. You’ll see a message indicating that the “person” is typing. This is an unfortunate use of deception to manipulate customers. More about this is revealed below in the section on saving $60 per year with Privacy Guard. In fairness, it should be pointed out that TransUnion (one of the top three credit bureaus) also uses virtual customer service people on their TrueCredit.com website.

Undisclosed Pricing. One concern that some people have is that Privacy Guard charges different rates for the same service. One customer may pay 30% less simply because they were able to haggle for a lower price.

Payment Problems. If you have an account with Privacy Guard and wish to change your payment method, you must cancel your current account and create a new one using the alternate payment method. If you are currently paying $17 a month and would like to pay $12 a month, you must cancel your existing account and then setup a new account with a different credit card for payment. Some people may feel that this is inconvenient.

Saving $60 Per Year on Privacy Guard. Assuming that you feel okay about the above business practices and marketing methods, below are the steps to achieving maximum savings with Privacy Guard. Most people who visit the PrivacyGuard.com website will unwittingly pay about $17 per month ($204 per year) for the service. However, if you follow these instructions, you could get the service for as little as $12 per month (or $144 per year).

  1. Go to PrivacyGuard.com and click on the link to get your first 30 days for just $1. This will take you to a signup form that promises 1 month free and then $17 a month thereafter.
  2. Attempt to close the browser window (not your browser, just that window or page).
  3. A browser alert message will appear with the following information, “https://www.privacyguard.com  Wait! A live agent would like to talk to you about last minute savings. Please hit ‘Cancel’ on the next window to remain on this page…” Click the OK button.
  4. The next browser alert message will appear with the following information, “https://www.privacyguard.com Are you sure you want to leave this page? Press ‘CANCEL’ below to chat… Click OK to continue, or Cancel to stay on this page.” Click Cancel to access the chat Window.
  5. The customer service representative is not a real person, but an interactive simulation that appears to be a real person. There will be a message stating, “Agent is Typing…” as if a real person is actually typing you a message. Below is a sample of an interaction with the fake customer service agent.
  6. Type in something like, “What’s the best deal you can give me?” Don’t click on any of the initial CLICK HERE offers, but click on the last one that is a response to what you’ve typed. The fist offers are for limited plans such as a single credit bureau report.
  7. After you click on the last CLICK HERE link, the customer agreement page will refresh and present you with the $11.99 per month service contract rather than the initial $16.99 per month service contract.
  8. Fill out the form and submit it to create your account with Privacy Guard and enjoy the savings.

Example of Chat Session. Below is a sample of an actual chat session with the fake / automated / robotic customer service representative.

Natalie Says: Hey wait! Get your Credit Report for FREE from all three major credit reporting agencies! Don’t become a victim to identity theft, CLICK HERE to sign up now, and start securing your life today!

Natalie Says: Just type ‘HI’ or ‘Hello’ in the space below to let me know you are there.

Natalie Says: Did you know that on average a person will fall victim to identity theft every 3.5 seconds? Don’t be caught off-guard…let PrivacyGuard protect your good name! CLICK HERE to sign up now, and start securing your life today!

Natalie Says: Whenever you are ready, just type ‘HI’ or ‘HELLO’ and we can get started…

Natalie Says: CLICK HERE to take advantage of this amazing offer.

You: What’s the best deal you can give me?

Natalie Says: Reviewing your credit reports is one of the best ways to manage your credit and discover if your identity has been stolen. With PrivacyGuard you can view your Credit Report for FREE! CLICK HERE to sign up now, and start securing your life today!

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com