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The Internet can be an invaluable resource for genealogy research, but you need to exercise caution if you come across the "Genealogy Scammer!" They are notorious for offering FREE information and before you realize it, you end up paying dearly for what you can obtain minimally on your own.
I can't tell you how many times I receive e-mail messages offering "Free trials" for obtaining information I already have. I fell "prey" to one such e-mail spammer/scammer with "Genealogy Seekers" (aka: Family Genseekers and more alias' I'm sure). I had received an "invitation" to join Genseekers for a "5-Day Free Trial" - and immediately after I signed up for it, I regretted my decision.
What disturbed me was the information they asked of me. I unwittingly provided them with a check number from my bank account. If this was a "Free trial" that would not be necessary! After signing up with them, I immediately sent them an email stating I was sorry but I found their services were not what I needed, and I wanted my free-trial membership cancelled. I sent them a total of 8 emails requesting cancellation, almost all of them were returned, with a message stating that the "User's mailbox was Full." (hmmmm...I wonder why!) I never received a reply from them. I also notified the bank of my problem, and issued a stop payment for the check, and I realized $20 is a small price to pay for the mistake I made.
Here are several websites that will give you detailed information on these genealogy spammers/scammers:
There are many genealogy mailing lists with members more than willing to help others in obtaining information. I belong to several messageboards listed through Rootsweb and they have been invaluable to me. They have websites and mailing lists for almost anywhere in the world. The important thing to remember is that there is a lot of genealogy research online and it is free! These resources are available through surname and regional mailing lists, family websites, etc.
However, it is important to remember that there are some people who feel the need to deceive the unaware, so if you come across a "genealogy service" that sounds too good to be true, it probably will cost you more money than you planned on spending, and it will not provide you with the information you are seeking.
Research a potential genealogy service thoroughly before signing up with it, as it will save you a lot of headaches later.
©Deborah K. Millemaci - May 2003
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