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12 posts from April 2015

6 Reasons Why Americans Refuse Privacy Protections From Government Surveillance

Pew Internet Research surveyed American Internet users and asked why some refuse to make any changes to their online behaviors for privacy and security after learning about extensive phone and online surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other agencies. There were five reasons or beliefs:

  1. It's too hard. 54 percent of users surveyed said that to enable privacy protections would be, "Somewhat Difficult" or "Very difficult."
  2. Nothing to hide. They consider their phone and online activity as uninteresting and/or totally legal. So they view any privacy changes as unnecessary.
  3. Lack the time or expertise. They consider the privacy changes necessary as requiring time and skills they lack.
  4. Resistance is futile. Any changes they'd make wouldn't stop the monitoring.
  5. Want to remain below the radar. They view the act of making privacy changes as inviting scrutiny.
  6. Believe they are safer with the surveillance. They view the surveillance as necessary for their safety.

Comcast Ends Proposed Merger With Time Warner Cable. FCC Statement

Comcast logo On Friday last week, Comcast issued a press statement about its $45.2 billion proposed merger with Time Warner Cable (TWC):

"Comcast Corporation announced this morning that its merger agreement with Time Warner Cable and its transactions agreement with Charter Communications, Inc. have been terminated."

Brian L. Roberts, Comcast Chairman and CEO, said about the announcement:

"Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away."

Federal communications Commission logo Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler released a brief statement about the companies' decision to terminate the proposed merger:

"Comcast and Time Warner Cable's decision to end Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers. The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests. Today, an online video market is emerging that offers new business models and greater consumer choice. The proposed merger would have posed an unacceptable risk to competition and innovation especially given the growing importance of high-speed broadband to online video and innovative new services."

During the past few years, newer Internet-based services have launched to satisfy consumers' needs for more choice, more flexibility, mobile-device support, and cheaper subscriptions options for movies and television shows. Consumers can subscribe to only the channels desired, instead of large blocks of channels. These newer services include Netflix streaming, Hulu, HBO Go, Apple TVGoogle TV, Amazon Fire TV, and others.

Much of the news media coverage focused upon the government's scrutiny of the proposed merger. C/Net reported:

"News that the deal was falling apart started to emerge Thursday afternoon, with reports saying that increasing concerns from US regulators would end the tie-up. Earlier in the week, Comcast officials met with the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission to discuss potential concessions in the deal... The Justice Department and the FCC work closely in reviewing mergers in the communications sector. The Justice Department looks at whether mergers violate antitrust laws or raise related concerns, while the FCC considers whether mergers would be in the public interest."

Broadcasting & Cable reported:

"By almost all accounts the combined broadband sub count, some deal critic estimates were as high as 50% of high speed subs, was a big factor in the FCC's conclusion that the deal should not go through... It was clear that the ISP gatekeeper label placed on ISPs by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, and driving the Obama Administration's backing of Title II common carrier status on those providers, extended to the Justice Department... the Department of Justice informed the companies that it had significant concerns that the merger would make Comcast an unavoidable gatekeeper for Internet-based services that rely on a broadband connection to reach consumers."

However, a merger may still happen. C/Net also reported:

"Shares of TWC, the second-biggest US cable operator and based in New York City, were up about 5 percent, amid a report from The Wall Street Journal that Charter is planning for a potential TWC bid..."

Internet access is important for rural residents. Some rely upon community service providers, and some live in broadband deserts, where high-speed Internet services (or services with any speed) aren't available.A 2013 survey by Pew Research found the rates of non-Internet users were 14 percent in urban areas, 14 percent in suburban areas, and 20 percent in rural areas.

Several Senators introduced earlier this year new legislation, the Community Broadband Act, to help consumers by encouraging competition with the goal to lower Internet prices. Currently, 19 states have laws that prevent cities, towns, and citizens from forming municipal broadband networks. Those laws are good for the large corporate providers and bad for consumers.

Plus, a prior study found that broadband offerings in the United States lagged services available in other developed countries that provide affordable and faster high-speed Internet connections. The study analyzed services in 24 cities worldwide, and found that consumers in the United States pay more and get slower speeds than people in other countries. The Republican-controlled Congress opposes the Community Broadband Act, but supports the current restrictive local laws in 19 states that prevent competition.

The Rural Broadband Association, which represents about 900 community=based providers, issued this statement about the end of the proposed merger:

"The announcement that Comcast and Time Warner Cable have abandoned their bid to combine forces is a victory for American consumers as well as the broadband solution providers represented by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. The FCC and the Department of Justice heard our concerns and signaled that they remain committed to promoting competition and innovation in the video and broadband marketplaces. NTCA looks forward to working with both agencies to ensure that rural providers continue to have the opportunity to compete and offer high-quality broadband and video services to their subscribers.”

Many experts and consumers were highly concerned that if the merger had proceeded, the number of homes with data caps or limits on downloads would have increased from 64 to78 percent. Data caps are effectively a price increase because you pay the same monthly and get less.

Neither Comcast nor TWC ranked highly in customer satisfaction. The September 2014 customer satisfaction study by J.D. Power found (bold emphasis added):

"DIRECTV and Verizon FiOS (738) rank highest (in a tie) in TV customer satisfaction in the East region; AT&T U-verse (750) ranks highest in the North Central region; Verizon FiOS (751) ranks highest in the South region; and DISH Network (739) ranks highest in the West region...Verizon ranks highest in ISP customer satisfaction in the East (712) and South (725) regions; WOW! (Wide Open West) scores 728 ranking highest in the North Central region; and AT&T (704) ranks highest in the West region... AT&T (740) ranks highest in telephone customer satisfaction in the East region; WOW! (Wide Open West) scores 767 ranking highest in the North Central region; Bright House Networks (751) ranks highest in the South region; and Cox Communications (739) ranks highest in the West region."


A New Look For I've Been Mugged Blog

You've probably noticed that his blog has a new look and format. I made the change to better support the various types of devices readers use when accessing the Internet: desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. The page layout automatically re-sizes itself to the device. This "responsive design" feature had been in beta test at Typepad (the blogging service this blog uses), and i wanted to wait until most of the bugs were ironed out.

I hope that you like the new format. Season's greetings and happy holidays!


Meme: Florida's Approach To Fight Climate Change

Meme: Florida approach to address climate change

Of course, state executives claim no such policy exists, while the employees responsible for protecting the state's environment reported that the policy was communicated verbally. Read more:


Fraudulent Insurance Claims Affect Mobile Device Users

The Best Techie blog published a very interesting post about how easy it is for criminals to file fraudulent insurance claims for mobile devices. The problem isn't just the ease that the fraud is committed, but also that consumers probably aren't aware of fraud claims submitted against their accounts until they file a valid insurance claim:

"If you use one of the major carriers in the U.S. such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and/or Sprint the insurance you buy comes from a company called Asurion Insurance Services, Inc... : it appears Asurion’s claim system is very easy to defraud... The only real deterrent in the claim system is that you need to sign an affidavit and provide a photo ID but if high school students can get fake IDs, I’d imagine for a fraudster obtaining a fake ID to scan is laughably easy..."

The I've Been Mugged blog has reported about Asurion. When evaluating mobile insurance offers, it is wise for consumers to do the math first. You'll want to decide if you want malware protection, and if the one- or two-year total of monthly insurance premiums exceeds the cost of your mobile device.

According to the Best Techie report, the fraudster used a combination of the victim's name and valid phone number with a different residential address. You'd think that Asurion would have easily spotted that and contacted their customer at their current address to confirm the claim and the new address.

Consumers pay good money for mobile device insurance, and deserve better protection against insurance fraud. What are your opinions?


Survey: 6 Reasons Why Consumers Switch Banks. What You Need To Know When Switching

A reader shared the link to a good article at Kiplinger about switching banks. The article lists six reasons why consumers switch banks, based upon a survey by Harris Polls for Kasasa, a service that offers free checking accounts.

As you probably guessed, the number one reason why consumers switch banks is the monthly service fee. And, the cost of banks seems to be going up. Recently, Bank of America announced a new $25 monthly service for its checking accounts. The new fee was announced in New England with plans to go nationwide later this year.

The fifth reason why consumers switch banks are low rates in interest bearing accounts. I thought that this would have rated higher on the list. Read the Kiplinger article to browse the full list of ranked six reasons why consumers switch banks.

If you are thinking about switching banks, Kiplinger offered this advice:

"If you don't like the service you're getting [at your current bank], vote with your feet and take your business elsewhere... It's not as hard as you might think. Of those polled on behalf of Kasasa who switched financial institutions, 81 percent said it wasn't difficult..."

You can move your money from a big bank to a smaller, regional bank or to a credit union. If you are thinking about switching to a credit union:

"... you're twice as likely to find free checking at a credit union than at a commercial bank, according to a study by Bankrate... 72 percent of credit union checking accounts don't have balance requirements. Unlike commercial banks, which are usually for-profit institutions, credit unions are membership-based nonprofit organizations. Member are eligible to join because of a common bond, such as a place of employment, place of worship, school, geographic location... You can find and research credit unions at CUlookup.com and ASmarterChoice.org."

There are more resources. You might try Find A Better Bank (FBB), MyCreditUnion.gov, the Credit Union Locator tool at the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) site, and the Move Your Money Project website. I switched banks recently. if you switched banks or plan to, share below your reasons for switching. Did you find the switching process easy? I did.


Epic Facebook Privacy Fail

A friend, who shall remain anonymous, posted the following photo on their Facebook timeline:

Facebook ad requesting your household income

Click on the image to view a larger version. Along with the image, my friend posted this status message:

"So this appeared in my right-hand rail. Seriously Facebook, are you tripping? Why would I give you information about my household income? Because I'm so sure you won't abuse the information?"

This is highly confidential information. Does Facebook need to know it? Does Facebook deserve to know it? I wouldn't share this data with them, and nor should you.

After a long, hearty laugh, there wasn't much I could add to this status message. Lots of businesses, including credit reporting agencies, want access to your Facebook timeline (for applications you never intended). In its rush to make money, Facebook has had so many privacy intrusions, snafus, data collection tools masquerading as fitness apps, and failures, that my friend summarized it all concisely.

I did post this comment:

"Epic Facebook privacy fail."


You Own That New Car You Bought, Right? Not So Fast...

Cars are fast becoming like smart phones. They offer many of the same features: hands-free and voice-activated controls, video monitors, Internet access, WiFi hotspots, maps with turn-by-turn travel instructions, and much more. That's a good thing, right? Read on and judge for yourself.

You did you homework. You decided to buy a new car and not lease one. Many people dislike the restrictions with leasing contracts: mileage caps, required maintenance schedule, required maintenance at the dealer, and more. So, you own a new car and can use the mechanic of your choice for maintenance, repairs, and modifications, right? Not if automakers have their way.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is collecting consumers' signatures for a petition with the U.S. Copyright Office. What's the Copyright Office have to do with your vehicle? Plenty. The EFF petition is to ensure vehicle owners have the rights to access the software your vehicle uses. The automakers want to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to control who can access the software in the vehicles they make.

What's the big deal? Most automakers oppose the EFF petition for an DMCA exemption. No access to the software in your vehicle means you've lost the freedom to choose the mechanic of your choice for maintenance, repairs, and modifications of your vehicle. That means, you really don't own that new vehicle you just bought.

many of you are wondering: wasn't this problem fixed with the "Right to Repair" laws? After a vote in 2012, Massachusetts enacted in 2013 a "right to repair" law. In 2014, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of Global Automakers, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, and the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality agreed to a memorandum of understanding, based upon the Massachusetts law, to preserve consumer choice and not oppose "right to repair" legislation in the other 49 states.

Now, it seems that the fight has quietly shifted to software law: the DMCA and Copyright Office. Some people might call this an end-run by automakers around "Right to Repair" laws.

The EFF explained why vehicle owners need access to the software:

"Modern cars contain dozens of computers called electronic control units (ECUs), and the code on those ECUs is potentially covered by copyright. But many repairs require access to that code, as does research into vehicle safety... When auto manufacturers deploy technology to lock people out of the code controlling their own cars... The result is that only persons authorized by the manufacturer can effectively perform repairs, and independent audits of car safety and security take place under a legal cloud, if at all... Errors in ECU code can cause braking systems to malfunction, and security researchers have exposed vulnerabilities that would allow attackers to hijack vehicle functions. When this research takes place in public, it makes it much more likely that manufacturers will act to fix those problems... Some car modders have experimented and found that modifications to the code in vehicle ECUs can increase fuel efficiency. Others have implemented new vehicle functions using free space in the ECUs' memory."

Can drivers trust the auto industry to be forthcoming with problems in the software their cars use? Recent history suggests not: airbag-related deaths, ignition-switch-related deaths, massive numbers of recalled vehicles, and hacking concerns. The problems occurred outside the USA, too.

The EFF explained opposition by auto manufacturers:

"... They warn that owners with the freedom to inspect and modify code will be capable of violating a wide range of laws and harming themselves and others. They say you shouldn’t be allowed to repair your own car because you might not do it right. They say you shouldn’t be allowed to modify the code in your car because you might defraud a used car purchaser by changing the mileage. They say no one should be allowed to even look at the code without the manufacturer’s permission..."

The EFF explained how this situation happened:

"The DMCA essentially blundered into this space and called all tinkering and code inspection into question, even acts that are otherwise lawful like repairing your car, making it work better at high altitude, inspecting the code to find security and safety issues, or even souping it up for use in races on a private course."

Just like any desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet I'd expect to be able to install anti-virus software in my car to inspect the software and storage devices for malware. All of these devices are essentially computers that perform similar functions.

To be fair, many companies besides automakers have issued DMCA-related threats and lawsuits. The EFF compiled a list in 2013. You'll probably recognize some of the corporate names. Here's one example from the list:

"In 2009, Apple threatened the free wiki hosting site BluWiki for hosting a discussion by hobbyists about reverse engineering iPods to interoperate with software other than Apple’s own iTunes. Without a work-around, iPod and iPhone owners would be unable to use third-party software, such as Winamp or Songbird, to “sync” their media collections between computer and iPod or iPhone. The material on the public wiki was merely a discussion of the reverse engineering effort, along with some snippets of relevant code drawn from Apple software. There were no “circumvention tools,”... Apple’s lawyers sent OdioWorks, the company behind BluWiki, a cease and desist letter threatening legal action under the DMCA. Bluwiki ultimately sued Apple to defend the free speech interests of its users. In response, Apple dropped its threat, and BluWiki reinstated the deleted pages."

Auto-industry executives aren't stupid. They've watched consumers spend massive amounts of money to buy smartphones and wireless data plans. Those smartphones are tethered (via contracts) to a specific wireless service provider (e.g., AT&T, Verizon, Sprint), operating system software, app store, and device manufacturer. So, don't blame auto-industry executives entirely.

For years, consumers have chosen convenience over the freedom of choice:

  • Consumers have given up the freedom to choose the wireless service provider with their smartphones. (Remember, the term "jailbreaking" effectively criminalized an activity with smartphones that had previously been legal with landline phones.)
  • Consumers have given up the freedom to choose the operating system with their smartphones,
  • Many mobile devices lack USB ports, which force users to use data plans and/or cloud services to move files to other devices
  • Consumers have agreed to one-stop shopping with app stores. (Where else in your life do you shop only at one store?

Having watched all of this, auto-industry executives probably have concluded that they can get vehicle owners to accept similar trade-offs: convenience over freedom of choice.

If this bothers you (and I sincerely hope that it does bother you), then sign the EFF petition, especially if you had problems fixing or modifying your vehicle because you were locked out of the software. And, write to your elected officials.

What are your opinions of automakers using DMCA law? When you buy a new car, do you expect to take it to the mechanic of your choice? What are you opinions of trading convenience for freedom of choice?


Hydraulic Fracturing, Safety, And America's Future

You've probably seen the television commercial. If not, it features an attractive blonde with a calm, reassuring voice emphasizing America's bright future from hydraulic fracturing (a/k/a "fracking") for oil and gas:

The energy is often contained in shale rock, which must be fractured or broken apart in order to release and access the energy supplies. Many people are concerned about safety and contaminated ground water. If you listen closely to the commercial, it briefly mentions safety:

"... new technologies are safely unlocking vast domestic supplies of oil and natural gas ..."

So, how safe is fracking? Does it threaten ground water? ProPublic investigated and reported:

"A peer-reviewed study published in 2014 found that drinking water wells near fracking sites in Pennsylvania and Texas were contaminated with methane that had the chemical signature of gas normally found only deep underground. Rob Jackson, a Stanford University professor of earth system science who coauthored the 2014 study, told us that drilling that uses hydraulic fracturing has “contaminated ground waters through chemical and wastewater spills, poor well integrity, and other pathways.”

The report emphasized that how one defines the term "fracking" matters when discussing safety:

"Fracking involves injection of a large volume of water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals (known as fracking fluid) deep underground to fracture the rock and allow gas to seep out. It is also used for oil extraction... the term “fracking” is sometimes used to describe the entire process of drilling for natural gas, but that isn’t accurate. After a well is drilled, cemented and prepared in other ways, only then is the well “fracked” — the actual stimulation of rock far beneath the earth’s surface to allow extraction of the gas."

So, it is critical to define fracking as the whole process, not a subset such as only the fracturing of rock:

"... the scientists we interviewed say that it doesn’t make sense to separate fracking from the entire gas and oil production process, and there is ample evidence that the overall process can cause contamination of water supplies. As we noted above, the new DOI rules cover the entire process including fracking, well casings and other activities."

Some of that evidence:

"Among the first studies specifically linking natural gas development and fracking to water quality was a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014 that analyzed drinking well water near fracking operations in Texas and Pennsylvania. In that study, which was coauthored by Jackson at Stanford, researchers identified the presence of methane — the primary component of natural gas — in drinking well water near unconventional drilling sites in the Marcellus Shale region in Pennsylvania and the Barnett Shale region in Texas. Using chemical signatures of certain gases, the researchers were able to determine in several cases that the methane was from deep underground — evidence that the drilling operations had caused the contamination. The study found that faulty and leaky wells were likely to blame...”

When you view a commercial or hear a fracking proponent claim that there's no proof that fracking contaminates ground water (e.g., it's safe), you now know otherwise. During an open, honest, and complete conversation about safety everyone defines the terms they use, and hopefully address the entire process. If it's unclear, demand clarification.

In my opinion, to claim something is safe while only addressing part of the process is simply dishonest. Words matter. Definitions matter.

ProPublic also reported:

"Partially in response to [safety] concerns, the Department of the Interior finalized a regulation on March 20 regarding hydraulic fracturing and related activities on public and tribal land. The regulation includes a number of provisions related to fracking and other aspects of natural gas drilling activity. For example, the rule includes “[p]rovisions for ensuring the protection of groundwater supplies by requiring a validation of well integrity and strong cement barriers between the wellbore and water zones through which the wellbore passes.” It has specific requirements for constructing cement casings for wells, and monitoring pressure on certain well parts during fracking operations. And it also requires disclosure of the chemical contents of fracking fluids."

That sounds sensible to me, since the regulation looks at the whole process. Of course, fracking proponents oppose the federal regulations, and want to shift regulations locally to the states:

"Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, opposes the regulation. He, along with 26 cosponsors, introduced a bill that would specifically put the responsibility for regulating relevant oil and gas operations in the hands of the states rather than the federal government."

That sounds like: if you can't fool all of the people all of the time, then maybe you can fool some of the people. Ground water supplies don't magically stop at state lines or boundaries. Ground water contamination doesn't magically stop at state lines, either.

When I think of fracking and safety, it is important to remember the history of how we got here:

"The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 contained a provision that has come to be known as the "Halliburton Loophole," an exemption for gas drilling and extraction from requirements in the underground injection control (UIC) program of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Other exemptions are also present in the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act."

So, this law was enacted during the Bush-Cheney administration's tenure. That energy producers pursued these exemptions before starting the current fracking boom speaks volumes. They probably knew that water contamination was likely, and/or that they couldn't safely drill and extract oil and gas. So, too, did compliant politicians.

You can't have a bright future with polluted drinking water and groundwater. Inhofe's proposed legislation should be opposed. Contact your elected officials, and tell them what you think.

What are your opinions of fracking? Should regulations be shifted to only the states?


Telemarketers Offer Energy Discounts. Have You Received These Calls?

This seems to be the week to receive phone calls from telemarketers.

The first call this week was 2:10 pm Tuesday afternoon. It was a robocall offering electric power discounts for people who qualify. The automated message asked me to have my monthly bill ready and to press "5" to speak with a representative. Previously, I have received both phone calls and visits by door-to-door sales people, Plus, I am aware of several utility scams. I was curious to learn what the latest pitch is, so I pressed "5" to continue the call.

A representative quickly joined the phone call and asked if I had my bill ready. I said yes, but that I needed to know first who I was talking with. The representative said his name was Robert. No last name. Then, I asked for his company's name and phone number. He said his company was "Power Source," and that he was in their call center. He refused to give a phone number (a typical habit of scam artists; especially those calling from outside the country).

Our phone call was off to a bumpy start, and it quickly got worse. I asked Robert for his company's website address. He replied that I could Google the company's name to learn more. Not a very friendly answer. It seemed to me that Robert (probably not his read name) was not going to disclose anything meaningful about Power Source (probably not its real name). Yet, he felt perfectly fine asking me to share details from my utility bill, which I consider highly confidential.

The Power Source name is strikingly similar to EverSource, a real, publicly-traded utility holding company that provides residential energy services in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. EverSource was created when Northeast Utilities merged with NSTAR Electric & Gas. Northeast Utilities included Connecticut Light & Power, Public Service of New Hampshire, Western Massachusetts Electric, and Yankee Gas.

I told Robert that since he was unwilling to share any detailed information, neither was I. He said thank you and hung up.

My online search for "Power Source" did not find a website for a power or electric company named "Power Source." More importantly, this robocall was illegal. Why? The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains:

"You've probably gotten robocalls about candidates running for office, or charities asking for donations. These robocalls are allowed. But if the recording is a sales message and you haven't given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal. In addition to the phone calls being illegal, their pitch most likely is a scam."

I have no relationship with a company named Power Source, and my home phone is registered in the national Do Not Call Registry. Consumers can report illegal robocalls at the FTC website. I did. So, if you receive a robocall from Power Source, you now know what to do with it.

The second call was 6:15pm Wednesday afternoon. It was a traditional phone call and not a robocall. Again, I asked the caller to identify himself. He said his name was James, who also offered energy discounts for home owners. Again, I asked for his company's name, phone number and website address. He identified his company as Solar Green Energy, but refused to provide a phone number.

Notice a pattern?

During the second call, I went online. A quick search for "Solar Green energy" found a dot-com website with that name. The site was for sale, and it didn't provide any details about the company nor its offerings. James insisted that if I qualified, he'd schedule a representative to visit to fully explain the service. I held firm and told him I wasn't sharing anything until I knew more about who I was talking with. He repeated his request for me to share information from my utility bill, and I hung up.

Afterward, I thought about both phone calls. They weren't really a surprise given huge electricity rate increases recently in Boston:

"... the Bureau of Labor Statistics said electricity prices in Boston were 63 percent higher than the national average in February — well up from last year, when local prices were 29 percent higher. Utilities have blamed insufficient pipeline capacity to supply the region, coupled with high winter demand."

To avoid getting slammed (e.g., your utility service changed without your permission) or being over-charged by a company practicing deceptive marketing, the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office advises consumers to:

  1. Check your monthly utility bills: to make sure that your service has not be switched to a different provider without your consent,
  2. Protect your sensitive information: do not show your utility bills to door-to-door sales people. Only show your utility bills after you have decided to do business with a provider.
  3. Be cautious: your current service provider does not send door-to-door sales people.
  4. Know your rights: do not let door-to-door sales people into your home unless you know them personally. Contact local police if the sales agent refuses to leave or you believe you are threatened.

For me, it's simple. If a caller asks me to disclose my personal information while refusing to fully identify their self, their employer, and the services offered, then I don't do business with them. Period. And, I definitely don't do business with illegal robocallers. I expect telemarketers to clearly and completely explain their discount program, first.

Have you received phone calls from Power Source or Solar Green Energy? If so, please share your experiences below including the date, time, company name, representative's name, and content of your call.