Internet Ads

Published on July 29th, 2014

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How WeSplit.it Could be Used to Spam You

Imagine being asked to pay for a dinner you never sat down to eat. Or rent for an apartment you never stepped foot in.

WeSplit.it is a bill and expense sharing website where people can transfer funds to each other for food, rent, or other “social money” expenses.

But recently a TINA.org reader alerted us to an unsolicited email she received from WeSplit.it that stated she owed more than $100 as part of a group expense totaling nearly $900. Her part of the bill was marked “Your share.”

WeSplit.it email with redactions

The email included a link to pay via PayPal, which processes payments for WeSplit.it and is probably the reason the spam email surfaced in the first place.

While WeSplit.it states in its privacy policy that you will never receive any spam from them, that’s not the case with PayPal, which states in its own privacy policy that it may share your personal information with “financial institutions that we partner with to jointly create and offer a product…”

The reader said she has a PayPal account but was not signed up on WeSplit.it. Regardless, the charges were bogus, the reader said.

Free until the fee

WeSplit.it describes itself as a free service people can use “to track and report accumulated IOUs, payments and shared bills.” There is, however, a small fee if you ever intend to pony up for an owed expense using PayPal.

Though it appears nominal – in the reader’s case, the fee was 79 cents for a $112 payment – it’s an additional charge nonetheless.

But the message here is to always question emails that say you owe money for charges you don’t remember. It’s likely spam.

Communications from the company

Since posting this Ad Alert on July 29, 2014, WeSplit.It’s co-founder, Ashish Mehra, contacted TINA.org stating, among other things, that the company is not responsible for any spam emails that might be sent, but rather the WeSplit.it user would be responsible.  In an effort to make this more clear, the company will be changing its outgoing emails so that the “from” address will read “FirstName LastName (via WeSplit.it) <no-reply@wesplit.it>.” as opposed to the current “WeSplit.it <no-reply@wesplit.it>,” according to Mr. Mehra.

Mr. Mehra also informed TINA.org that the company will update its email footer so that it will state the following in order to make it clearer to the recipient that the email is not an official invoice or demand of payment:

“FirstName Last Name has initiated this email by declaring that you are partly responsible for this bill.  This bill is not an official invoice and in no way legitimises the claim made by this user.  If you do not recognize the sender or if you feel this email was sent in error, please click the unsubscribe link below to stop all future notifications.  Unsubscribe from these notifications.”

Taking into account the company’s explanation and changes, we have updated the headline of this Ad Alert.

This story was updated on 8/12/2014.

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