How to Spot A Scammer: Policy

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Yellow Belt
How to Spot A Scammer: Policy (Part I)
Denver T. Hunter - Webmaster Serve Community

Below I have taken actual policy from an actual host and pointed out some information for you. Although I do not have a degree in the legal field of any kind, I can point out some situations with the below that you will want to avoid when signing up with a web host. The host will remain unamed, so please do not attempt to try and find out who this is at this point. All I can say is this is a working policy from a host.

]1. Disclaimer
________ will not be responsible for any damages your business may suffer.
________  makes no warranties of any kind, expressed or implied for service we provide.
________  disclaims any warranty or merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. This includes loss of data resulting in delays, no deliveries, wrong delivery, and any and all service interruptions caused by _________  and its employees.
________  reserves the right to change its policies at any time without prior notification.
The above information would send me away almost immediately chase me far away from this host and this is a very common practice, although not always to this extent. Notice the highlighted sentence amongst others. This company specifially states that they are in no shape, way or form responsible for downtime in any manner. While they don't make claims elsewhere on the website for uptime, if your site suffers a tremendous amount of downtime and you lose money, there isn't anything that you can do about it. When you signed up with them you've agreed that no matter what happens, you cannot do a thing.

2. Payment Policy
Your account will not be activated until we receive your first month's payment. When submitting a credit card, you must be the card owner. If this is found otherwise, your account could be placed on grounds of termination. By submitting a credit card on the order form, the cardholder agrees to authorize all recurring charges to the account, and any balances incurred due to over limits of account outlines. Users, additions of extras to the account, service charges, and/or any other fees due. To halt the automatic charging to your credit card, you must notify our billing department at at least one week in advance.
This paragraph may come back to haunt you as well although in the hands of an honest host it wouldn't provide a load of worry. However, notice that the company can charge your account for overages and apparently not let you know until it's done from what is suggested above.

3. Abuse
Server abuse will not be tolerated. Server abuse includes but is not limited to the following:
A. CPU/Resource intensive Programs
(This includes broadcasting utilities)
B. Denial of Service Attacks
C. Hacking/cracking of any kind (This includes exploits)
D. Shell account trading
E. IRC Flooding/Cloning
F. Usage of xDCC Bots/eMechs/War bots
G. Storage of Warez/MP3's/
H. Taking over channels
I. Holding taken over channels
J. Spamming
K. More than one connection to irc per process

________ will be the sole arbiter as to what constitutes as a violation of server abuse, and reserve the right to terminate the account without notification.
The above once again looks harmless, but let's look at some things here. Most of those issues are common instances that you'll be banned from with virtually any host. However, letter A. is very unclear. There are no set limits for the problems and as noted at the bottom are at the discretion of the host and they can terminate any account without notification. In other words, they can delete everything you have just because you're overusing a specified amount of resources (whatever they may be) and don't have to tell you anything. You lose everything - databases, files, etc - gone, poof. Once given the prices that this host has its plans for, anyone can see that set host is overselling and using this policy as insurance.

5. Early Termination/Cancellation
______  reserves the right to cancel a customer's service at any time. Customers may cancel service at any time, but no refund after 14 days. _______ will not offer refunds whatsoever.
Once again, this host can close your account without even a reason at any time without any sort of refund. Even if you were to cancel your own account, but cannot receive a refund after 14 days use. This is another example of the safety net oversellers will employ.

6. Privacy Policy
We take our customers privacy very seriously. You are guaranteed 100% privacy. Information such as address, phone, etc. will not be given out. However, we reserve the right to monitor your account.

We will also use given information to verify you as the account holder in the event you forgot your password.
All standard procedure here. At least they won't give out your information to others.

7. Credit Card Fraud
_______  does not condone nor encourage credit card fraud. In order to ensure your safety and privacy, _______  has secure SSL encrypted web-servers. In addition, with all credit card orders verbal verification is required and all new accounts using credit card to order may have to wait another 24 hours. Furthermore, by using your credit card to apply for an account you are subject to extensive research to ensure you are the cardholder. This includes, but not limited to: Address verification, verbal/phone verification, etc.
Another standard procedure to protect the host.

8. Refund Policy
Refunds will be given upon meeting the following term's only
Supply name address and phone no. to be contacted by for verification.
If account was payed by credit card we only will only make credit back to card holder, no cash refunds on credit cards. We want our customers to understand that, once we register your domain name we cannot return it, so in this case you will receive your refund $8.00 less than what you paid and also customers get to keep their domain name.
Yet more standard procedures. Nothing wrong with the above.


Now, we've taken a brief look at what to be on alert for. The above scenarion is very real and unfortunately prevalent throughout the hosting industry. In this case and others, the host is grossly overselling banking on the fact that most users don't use near what they sign up for. However, we're not suggesting all hosts that oversell are bad. Overselling can be a great way to lower costs for all parties involved, we're just pointing out the ones that grossly oversell and then hide behind a well written policy that you might not have even bothered to read when you signed up.

The best way to avoid this situation is to keep yourself educated about your host. I can only hope that this article has helped you reach that realization.
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