Received via NY Finger Lakes Rootsweb List, 27 February 2003:

The old genealogy scam is back.

Behind the password protection are links to the free genealogy on-line. There is no content of their own.

In order to get the "5-day free trial" you have to surrender a credit card or bank account number. You have to cancel within 5 days or you get dinged. Guess what? The cancellation e-mail bounces. Does this surprise you?

One person who recently fell for the come-on had his/her account dinged not once, but twice.

It is time to remind folks on your state and county mailing lists about these scoundrels. It has been a couple of years since we have mentioned this.


Any information which you share on GenForum's message boards may be copied by [/] and sold by them for profit either as data included on a monthly/annual subscription or as a CD for purchase. Much of this information is totally unreliable. Caveat emptor [Buyer beware]. In order to see what, if any, information has acquired from your voluntary contributions, you will first need to subscribe to their service available to paying members only.

I received this as an email message from Wendy Scalfaro on the NY FingerLakes List

(From Dick Eastman:)
Genealogy scams in general:

Genealogical Web Site Watchdog (only for online scams) at:

The National Genealogical Society's Consumer Protection
Committee is quite active at keeping an eye on the various
scams, including both online and offline fraudsters. If you
have a question about a particular company's services, you can
contact the NGS Consumer Protection Committee via traditional
mail at: National Genealogical Society's Consumer Protection
Committee, at 4527 17th Street North, Arlington, VA 22207-
2399. The committee also maintains Web pages at:
" and at: However,
those pages do not mention specific companies.

Cyndi's List has a section for genealogy myths, hoaxes and
scams at:

Specific companies:

I have received e-mail about the following companies; all have
been mentioned as having questionable services. I have listed URLs
where you can obtain further information:

Family - an online Web site that claims to have
"the Web's most versatile Award Winning collection of
genealogical databases." However, they don't mention the
"award" they received from the Better Business Bureau! The
Bureau says, "Based on BBB files, this company has an
unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to unanswered
complaint(s)." Family charges $59.99 for a one-
year subscription. Most of the same information is available
elsewhere on the Web at no charge. In fact, many of the links
on simply take you to free Web sites. You
can obtain the same information at no cost by using one of the
free search engines. Details are available on the Genealogical
Web Site Watchdog site at:
There is an newsletter at:

The xxx Family Yearbook - In this case, substitute your last
name for the "xxx." For instance, an advertisement sent to a
person named Smith would be advertising The Smith Family
Yearbook while someone named Clark would receive an
advertisement for The Clark Family Yearbook. These "yearbooks"
claim to have genealogy information. However, those who
purchase the "products" are usually disappointed. The
producing company has several business names; for example, you
can find them listed as Mountain West News Service or as the
Mountain Pacific News Service. They also may appear as an
organizational name, such as "The Smith Family Yearbook."
However, all these "companies" have the same address: 1181 S.
Parker Road, #105, Denver, CO 80231. The Better Business
Bureau lists the parent company as MORPHCORP. The News Herald
of Panama City, Florida has an article about these "products"

Family Tree House - I wrote about this company in the October
31, 1998 edition of this newsletter. The company gives an
appearance of a Web site that offers genealogy services. In
fact, it does not appear to sell anything. However, the same
company advertises on another Web site with an offer to sell
personal information obtained from genealogists who visit the
Family Tree House site. You innocently enter personal
information about yourself on Family Tree House and then
operators of the site sell your personal information to bulk
mail companies. Information for sale includes name, address,
e-mail address and more. You can read that article at:

The Historical Research Center (HRC) International, Inc. sells
"family histories" and coats of arms. Information about the
true value of these products can be found on the Genealogical
Web Site Watchdog site at: . Keep
in mind that this company sells franchises. A few years ago
they were listed as one of the top 30 fastest growing
franchises in America. You may find their products being sold
by other companies who purchase franchises. One such company
is, but apparently there are many others as well.

The International Hall of Names in Canada also sells "family
histories" and coats of arms. They are also mentioned on the
Genealogical Web Site Watchdog site at:

I would caution anyone to be careful about "family coats of arms."
In fact, in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and most of western
Europe, there really is no such thing as a family coat of arms. In
those countries, arms have always been awarded to individuals, not
to families. Displaying a coat of arms that you are not authorized
to use is a form of identity theft, even if you do happen to have
the same last name as the original grantee. Any company offering
to sell you a copy of "your family's coat of arms" is selling a
bogus product.

If you believe you have been the victim of a genealogy scam, you
can do something about it! If you purchased products or services
from the above companies or any others that you feel did not live
up to advertised claims, demand a refund! If your money is not
returned within 30 days or so from a U.S. company, submit a
complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer
Protection at:$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01 . A few
letters of inquiry from the federal government will send a strong
message to the people who produce products or services of
questionable value. If a Canadian company is involved, you can
register a complaint at:

You also might want to warn other genealogists and tell them of
your experiences. You can post a message to others in the "Scams
and Fraud" section of CompuServe's Genealogy Techniques Forum
message board. Go to: gs&SEC=15&loc=us&access=public


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