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Herald promotes Anzac scam?

Written By: - Date published: 7:35 pm, April 23rd, 2011 - 7 comments
Categories: Ethics, newspapers - Tags:

Fallen soldier records free to access over Easter” is  the headline in a Herald story today promoting a special  free access to a website. I went to look at it because three of my four uncles were shot down in combat during World War 2. Both of Mum’s brothers, Andy and Jack, were killed and Dad’s brother Allan taken prisoner. But the story should have been headlined “Free with fishhooks.”

I went to the website, found a reference to Allan and went to get the free access. I discovered I would have to sign over my credit card, and if I forgot to phone or find the cancel place on the website would be hit for a bill of $200-300. This was disguised in the asterisked fine print – $17.95 a month would be billed in one annual payment of $215 in the cheap option.

Ironically today’s Herald also had a story about scammers and how to avoid them, including the advice that they often target the elderly, and want credit card details. This is the same in principle and it feels like a scam to me. I was born before Dunkirk and never knew my fallen uncles; I am named after Andy and am interested in whatever I can find out about about all of them.
I didn’t sign up; I’ll do a post about Andy on Anzac Day.

7 comments on “Herald promotes Anzac scam? ”

  1. ASA 1

    Like you, I thought this was a great chance to find out more about my grandfather’s WWl experiences. I quickly found his name, and went to access his details, for free, or so I thought. Once I found the catch, I was tempted to sign up for the free access, and to trust that I would remember to cancel it in time. However caution prevailed, as given the trick that was being played, I couldn’t be sure that cancelling this would be easy. As you’ve highlighted, this is a con job and the media (I heard about on TV3) should be somewhat ashamed of themselves for promoting it. I do wonder how this company managed to get free publicity, both in print and on TV.

  2. Carol 2

    Mike, do you know about these sites?
    http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/?t=130
    http://www.cwgc.org/
    Generally public libraries can be helpful for doing genealogy, family history and war record searchs.  Auckland Libraries have an extensive Digital Library available to members.  The Ancestry Library can be accessed only from within the libraries, I think.
    http://www.aucklandcitylibraries.com/DigitalLibrary.aspx?lang=en-NZ
     
     

  3. sophie 3

    If your relatives were in the army, you can get information from the Museum in Waiuru.  I managed to get my Dad’s WWII and my Great Uncle’s WWI records via the helpful staff there.
    They also suggested books to read to find out information about the campaigns they were involved in.
    http://www.armymuseum.co.nz/research/family-history.html
     
     
     

  4. Irascible 4

    Ancestry.com regularly offer free access to their data base and always with the caveat you sign up first then cancel before they access your credit card.
    Unfortunately, this is a common ploy with the commercial genealogical sites.
     

  5. Pete 5

    Ancestry.com is a fairly well respected resource and is one subscribed to through the EPIC library consortium – where NZ libraries have clubbed together for better purchasing power from electronic vendors. They are not scammers. Indeed, this is an example of how libraries are so valuable in modern society.
    The National Library is particularly good in the field of family history.

  6. Missy 6

    Mike, I am not sure it is a scam as such, but it is expensive, does have a hook, and the information is definitely available elsewhere for nothing (or a small photocopying charge).
    All WWI records are available at the National Archives, and are in the process of being digitised on Archway (http://www.archives.govt.nz), if the one’s you are interested in aren’t there you just need a reader number to order them. (all free).
    For WWII (which you indicated you are interested in) the best place to start is http://www.cwgc.org (already mentioned), this gives a listing of all Commonwealth servicemen killed overseas who either have a known grave overseas, or are listed on a memorial in a commonwealth cemetry. Military records for deceased persons are available from NZDF archives, (http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/personnel-records/nzdf-archives), if the person died after leaving the forces then they may require some proof of date of death.  The NZDF will provide one file free per 12months, and charge a small fee for subsequent files per 12months.  All in all, you will get more information at a fraction of the cost of Ancestry.com. Also, many libraries have copies of the nominal rolls for viewing as well.

  7. Mike Smith 7

    Thanks for the helpful comments – my concern was with the small print that said the bill would be upfront for a year’s worth if not cancelled in time. I know how fragile memory can be and think that if it was a genuine free offer it wouldn’t need a credit card to access it.

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