I've worked for Barclaycard US for quite some time now and I just have to reveal some information which would make my job, and some people's lives, so much easier. I work as a Customer Relationship Manager and what I do is assist my customers with their credit card needs. I walk them through common issues such as making payments, updating personal information, understanding their statements, making balance transfers etc. But at least 4 or 5 times a day, every day, I and my colleagues get calls which bother us to no end. Someone has been scammed out of their hard earned money and I just have to do whatever small thing I can to help stop this practice. My hope is that this blog will help me to do just that.
It all starts with an offer the customer has either heard on TV, seen in a magazine or clicked on online. The offer is simple, for a small or even a non existent fee, a scam artist is willing to send out a product which will benefit the customer. It could be diet pills, hair growth products, aging creams, whatever it takes to get the customer set up to buy. In order to get the product, the customer has to pay shipping and handling or processing fees, and as I said, maybe a small fee is charged for the product itself. Usually the total initial cost will be anywhere from $3 dollars to up to $10 dollars depending on the item. The customer gives them their credit card information for this product and according to the merchant, they can cancel at any time if it's not what they want. At least that's what's understood.
The product arrives, the charge has been made to their credit cards, and of course the product doesn't work like the advertisement stated. So the customer either sends the product back, calls or emails to cancel, or more than likely believes that since nothing else has been ordered, that's the end of it. Not true!
A month or two later, or I've even seen as much as a year later, the customer looks closely at their credit card statements and they see a charge of $50 to $120 dollars and up being charged to their credit cards on a monthly basis. They call us to see who has been charging them like this, and we discover it's the original merchant which sent out that small product which didn't work. The customer cannot charge them with fraud because they voluntarily gave their credit card information out in the first transaction. The only option open to them is to open a dispute.
When a dispute is opened, the bank investigates the original transaction, the merchants contract which the customer agrees to when the card number has been given, the product or products which the charges pertain to etc. Usually the money is only recovered if, and only if, the customer can prove that the contract was cancelled and/or the products were never received or returned. The customer also has to prove that they themselves tried to contact the merchant to try to resolve the issue even before contacting the bank to get involved. Then the merchant must be given a specific amount of time to resolve the issue. Meanwhile, the customer has been billed once again. When or if the bank does finally become involved, the merchant is always given the benefit of the doubt first, before the customer, because the card number was given out freely.
Most of the time customers believe that by closing out that particular credit card number, they can therefore stop the merchants from billing them because they don't have the new number. Not true. Merchants can, and do, continue to bill the customer and the bank applies any future charges to the same account, even though the credit card number itself has been changed. The bank determines that because it's a re-occuring charge, and since the account remains the same and only the credit card number has been changed, merchants can continue to bill them until the contract has been closed. The only time that this does not occur is when fraud is involved. And as I've stated before, fraud is only determined if the card number was used without the customer's consent. If the customer gave out the card number freely, it is not fraud. I've had to listen to more than enough customers than I'd care to say, as they've cried over thousands of dollars stolen in this way.
Please investigate the product before purchasing. You can google the product itself, the company behind the product, any customer reviews of the companies practices even any endorsements made on the products behalf. And do, before giving out your credit card information, read any fine print of any contract you may see. In the case of a TV ad, when you call the number advertised in the ad, please ask questions. If the agent on the line cannot answer them, there's your red flag right there. And most importantly, if a product sounds too good to be true, chances are, it's not what you want to buy. And finally, check your credit card statements each and every month, You may be able to avoid large amounts of money charged in the future by doing so.
Allison C Whitfield, author of "The Shelter of the Shade Tree", is a Freelance writer who creates articles describing the unconventional for those who wish to explore new ideas and new challenges. She has had 30 + years of experience in Office Administration and Customer Service. She is also a [...]