Table of Contents

non_personal_information

Collection of Personally identifiable information

The site seems to collect “indirect” personal information  (ex: Your IP Address, Device ID, ZIP Code, GPS Location….).

Why is it important?

While this information appears to be “anonymous”, it can easily be used to identify and track you, as demonstrated here by the New York Times or here. This can lead to very targeted ads to exploit your “weaknesses” for certain products, increased prices just for you, or even impair democracy.

What Can I do about it ?

GPS Location: Try to refuse access to your GPS, or if critical to the service, make sure you choose “Only while in use” 

ZIP Code: Unless needed for a delivery, enter (when possible and allowed) a different ZIP Code. 

IP Address: A VPN service will mask your IP address and general location from websites. It’s also a great general security tool to protect your personal information when connected to a public WiFi, encrypt your online activity from your Internet Provider, or even access region-blocked content. 

We have a partnership with SurfShark VPN, which means you benefit from their most recent price promotion and we get a small commission to help us keep the light on. 

Whatever VPN service you choose, make sure it does not keep logs of your activity, this would defeat the purpose. 

Collection of Direct Personal Information

The site seems to collect very personal information about you (ex: Your Name, Address, DOB, Credit Card Info, Phone, Email, Photos,…) and/ or to prohibit you from using an alias (a false name used to protect your true identity).

Why is it important?

  • Black Hat hackers could steal the information (ex: Capital One and many more with 1,600+ breaches in 2020)
  • The service could be sold and new owners might be less scrupulous in how they use your data
  • The website itself could be a scam, looking to collect personal information about as many users as possible.

This information can then be used to take over your online accounts, take on debt under your name or simply charge expenses on your credit card.

What Can I do about it ?

Alias: 

If the site permits, we strongly recommend using an alias (alternative identity) that you use for online services. This Alias should include a different email address (that does not contain your real name), consider a “disposable email” service like Yopmail for one-time use. 

Virtual Credit Card: 

Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount) and significantly decrease the risk of fraud. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com 

Additional Costs

They seem to have clauses about additional costs to the service, either written directly on the page or with external links.

Why is it important?

  1. The total cost might be higher than expected. If the service also has a clause about Credit Card Authorisation, they might automatically charge your card for those additional costs. 
  2. If you know what “behaviour” might lead to extra costs, you can avoid it.

What Can I do about it ?

Assess the total cost of the service and decide if this is still worth it to you. 

You can also consider using a Virtual Credit Card: 

Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount). This would stop the service from charging you directly and allow you to assess if those fees are legitimate. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com

Licence to Your Content

They seem to want a licence to use the content you provide (like Photos, Videos, Texts, etc.) including for things you might not agree with. They also might want to make sure you own the right to the content you will provide.

Why is it important?

This means they can use it for anything they want, including to post Ads using your Photos (Remember Joey’s poster from Friends ?).

More likely, they could use photos to train a Face Recognition software they can then sell for military use to whoever they want. 

If you provide content for which you do not own the rights (let’s say you upload the picture of a celebrity), you are now legally responsible if the platform decides to resell it or use it for promotion, and could be sued for it.

What Can I do about it ?

  1. Ask yourself: Is this really worth it? 
  2. Make sure you DO own the right to the content you provide
  3. Make sure you are comfortable with the content you provide eventually becoming “public”.

No-refunds

They seem to have clause(s) limiting your ability to obtain refunds: this could mean no refunds, partial refunds or that requests need to be made within a limited timeframe.

Why is it important?

Despite the Refund Laws in place in your area, or potentially other claims on the website, Refunds could be hard to obtain.

What Can I do about it ?

If there are no refunds, make sure you are OK with sales being final, or look for another provider that offer refunds. 

If the refundable period is limited, note in your calendar when it ends and assess your satisfaction before then. 

Data Management

The data management practices (location of data and ability to delete it) appear non-ideal and could lead to your personal data being exposed.

Why is it important?

  • Location of your data:

If your data is stored in other countries, they might have different laws than your home country about protecting it. For example, in the United States, the Patriot Act allows the agencies, like the FBI, to request access to personal data stored by corporations based in the United States.  

  • Deleting your data:

Some clauses limit your ability to delete your personal data (either by keeping it even after you close your account or requiring an extended time to delete it), this means that your data remains at risk:

  • The website could be acquired and new owners might be less scrupulous in how they use your data
  • The website itself could be a scam, looking to collect personal information about as many users as possible.

This information can then be used to take over your online accounts, take on debt under your name or simply charge expenses on your credit card.

What Can I do about it ?

Alias: 

If the site permits, we strongly recommend using an alias (alternative identity) that you use for online services. This Alias should include a different email address (that does not contain your real name), consider a “disposable email” service like Yopmail for one-time use. 

Virtual Credit Card: 

Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount) and significantly decrease the risk of fraud. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com

Red-flag

We are often surprised to see services that reserve the right to change the terms of the agreement without notifying you in any way. We also sometimes see clauses about nuclear weapons or zombie apocalypse.

Why is it important?

While the later exemples are somewhat funny, the first one is not. What if they rewrite the Terms to include a $ penalty for using the service 2 days in a row and they didn’t notify you in any way?

What Can I do about it ?

  1. Ask yourself: Do I really want to “do business” with someone who wants to be able to change the rules as they please?
  2. To limit the impact of those potential changes, we recommend the usual tools : 

Alias: 

If the site permits, we strongly recommend using an alias (alternative identity) that you use for online services. This Alias should include a different email address (that does not contain your real name), consider a “disposable email” service like Yopmail for one-time use. 

Virtual Credit Card: 

Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount) and significantly decrease the risk of fraud. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com 

Automatic Credit Card Charges

Some services have clauses giving them an authorization to automatically charge your method of payment when they deem you owe them money.

Why is it important?

This is especially important when combined with other clauses implying additional costs, enrollment and no refund. This is basically a “shoot first and ask questions later” approach, and you might be stuck for weeks fighting for refunds on undue fees, sometimes in vain. 

What Can I do about it ?

Once again, consider using a Virtual Credit Card: 

Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount) and significantly decrease the risk of fraud. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com

Potential Additional Costs

There seem to be clauses that refer to taxes, shipping or import fees that you would be responsible for.

Why is it important?

This could significantly impact the total cost of the service/product.

What Can I do about it ?

Make sure you take this into consideration when comparing different providers.

Sharing Data

We look for clauses expressing that the data collected (including your personal data) might be shared with third-parties, including other users of the service or even made public.

Why is it important?

The more your data is shared across different services and databases, the more likely it is that one of them will be hacked (1,600+ breaches in 2020).

 

When shared with other members or made public, this exposes you to “social engineering” where black hat hackers use this data as bait, to impersonate you or pose as a party that you have already given this information to. This allows them to obtain even more critical information and could lead to identity theft. 


This information can then be used to take over your online accounts, take on debt under your name or simply charge expenses on your credit card.

What Can I do about it ?

You are probably used to these recommendations by now: 

Alias: 

If the site permits, we strongly recommend using an alias (alternative identity) that you use for online services. This Alias should include a different email address (that does not contain your real name), consider a “disposable email” service like Yopmail for one-time use. 

Virtual Credit Card: 

Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount) and significantly decrease the risk of fraud. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com

Hard to Unsubscribe

The site seems to be easy to subscribe to (maybe even involuntary) but hard to unsubscribe (auto-renewal, complicated procedure to unsubscribe, long notice, etc…).

Why is it important?

Subscription traps:  

Some free trial offers are really ways to trap consumers into expensive subscriptions, as reported by the Better Business Bureau here. You provide a method of payment at sign up (usually for “shipping” cost) and before you know it, you have been charged for monthly subscriptions. 

The European Commission analyzed the most common problems encountered by consumers and “ I was not aware that I had subscribed for a service” came in 4th place with 18%.

Hard to Unbscribe

The number one problem encountered by consumers according to the same European Commission study was “I had difficulties to unsubscribe”. Some sites make it very difficult to unsubscribe, requiring to call, email, or even fax/mail your notice! One of our users said it best: “If I can sign up online, I should be able to unsubscribe the same way”.

What Can I do about it ?

  1. Make sure to use our “reminder” feature to receive an email right before renewal and decide if you are OK with the new conditions. 
  2. This is another case where Virtual Credit Card can be useful: 


Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount). This would stop the service from charging you directly and allow you to assess if those fees are legitimate. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com

No refund on subscription

Cancelling a subscription only seems to stop the automatic renewal at the end of your paid period, and not allow you to receive a refund for the unused period.

Why is it important?

Despite the Refund Laws in place in your area, or potentially other claims on the website, refunds on subscriptions seems to be impossible.

What Can I do about it ?

  1. Make sure to use our “reminder” feature to receive an email right before renewal and decide if you are OK with the new conditions. 
  2. This is another case where Virtual Credit Card can be useful: 

Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount). This would stop the service from charging you directly and allow you to assess if those fees are legitimate. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com 

Price Hike

The Terms seem to mention the price you see (free, promo or even “regular”) will increase upon renewal.

Why is it important?

“Free” could become paid – “Promo Price” could become regular and most importantly, the subscription could renew to the “then-applicable” price, whatever it might be!

What Can I do about it ?

  1. Make sure to use our “reminder” feature to receive an email right before renewal and decide if you are OK with the new conditions. 
  2. This is another case where Virtual Credit Card can be useful: 

Sometimes called “Burner Cards”, Virtual Credit Cards allow you to set specific limits (like one-time use or a maximum available amount). This would stop the service from charging you directly and allow you to assess if those fees are legitimate. Your Financial Institution might already offer such a service, if not, you can pay for services like Blur or Privacy.com 

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