Recurring Credit Card Charges

Small, recurring credit card charges and bounced check handling alert: Internet ScamBusters #180

Internet ScamBusters™

The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Audri and Jim Lanford

Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford

All rights reserved.

Issue #180


Today we focus on two new trends you probably aren’t aware of that are troubling

at best — and are considered to be scams by many:

– Small, recurring credit card charges

– Bounced check handling alert.

First though, why don’t you check out some of the most popular articles from our

other websites:

Who’s Bidding on Your Credit

Card Information?

Whatever Happened to Credit

Card Grace Periods?


Coupons May Be Worth More Than You Think


Weddings for Every Bride … and Every Budget

Let’s get going with today’s topics…

Small, recurring credit card charges

Have you ever noticed a small charge to a company you don’t recognize on your

credit card statement?

You then look at last month’s statement, and find the same credit card charge.

And going back, you see that charge has been there month after month after month…

The charge is often for $9.95, $14.95 or $19.95 each month. These are called small,

recurring credit card charges and experts say they have increased dramatically

over the past six months.

People often believe that the charge belongs to their spouse.

These charges are more than annoying. Unfortunately, they can add up to hundreds

of dollars over time.

Often, these charges begin with a telemarketing call or a pop-up offer on the

Internet. Sometimes the fact that there is the charge for some freebie is completely

hidden in the small print — or there is no mention of it at all.

It’s often very difficult to stop the billing — and getting a refund is frequently

close to impossible.

Some of the companies that promote these products stay just on this side of the

law. Others are outright scams.

As an example, one neighbor of ours told us this story about recurring credit

card charges:

They recently had two of these recurring credit card charges show up on their

credit card statements. One was for "credit card protection" when they

opened a new credit card. Fortunately, this one was easy to cancel and they caught

it the first month and got a full refund.

A second recurring credit card charge they found was much more difficult to deal

with. They found this one after four months — they both thought the other person

had ordered the $9.95 service. When they called, they were told that one of them

had clicked "yes," saying they wanted a travel discount plan when they

visited a website. Neither of them remember ever being asked about this service.

It took four phone calls and three months (including numerous threats) to finally

stop the billing, and they only succeeded in getting a partial refund.

How do you protect yourself? Check your credit card statement carefully, and call

if you don’t recognize a charge. Read the fine print very carefully if you fill

out online surveys or agree to freebie offers online. Make sure you truly understand

what you are agreeing to with any offer you accept. Finally, use a pop-up blocker

to eliminate unwanted pop-up windows.

Bounced check handling alert

Imagine that you bounce a check. (Hopefully, this isn’t something you do often,

but it happens to almost everyone at some point over the years.)

If you do bounce a check, there’s no question that you are responsible to pay

what you owe. And, it’s certainly reasonable that you are charged a fee to pay

for your financial mismanagement.

The new trend we want to alert you to relates to the fact that prosecutors in

some areas are now using "check-diversion" companies to deal with bounced


Check-diversion companies are private, for-profit debt collection companies.

The concern is that some of these check-diversion companies are engaging in abusive

and deceptive collection practices — and this may get a lot worse shortly.

How does this affect you (especially if you don’t bounce checks)?

Since identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes, victims of identity

theft can have bounced checks on their records — even for bank accounts they

never opened!

Congress is now considering legislation that would exempt check-diversion companies

from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prohibits the use of deceptive

and abusive collection practices. (This legislation has been approved in the House

and is being considered by the Senate.)

Experts say that we’ve seen a big increase in the use of abusive and deceptive

collection practices over the past couple of years. Expect increases in the area

of bounced checks if this law passes.

How to protect yourself: Obviously, don’t bounce checks. ;-) Balance your checkbook

every month, monitor your bank accounts (safely) online, consider overdraft protection,

and keep extra money in your account to cover any mistakes you might make.

Time to close for today. Wishing you a good Memorial Day weekend.