About 3-4 weeks ago, I received a call from one Alister Lopez of Advantage America assuring me that I qualify for a grant from the government for paying my taxes. He assured me that I would receive $12,500 in grant money and that all fees would be taken from the grant such that no fees would be taken from my checking account.
Being suspicious, I gave him what a customer service representative told me was a "deposit only" account number for my account with the bank since I had been expecting a payment from a company I didn't know well enough to trust. I gave this account number to Mr. Lopez.
Later on he told me that in order to complete the transaction and to get the grant money to me, he needed to ask a few questions that would be recorded. The questions asked were to get my name, address, bank account information, and my confirmation that it was ok to take the money from my account.
I answered each of the questions until I was asked for a yes to withdraw funds from my account. At this point I said no. Mr. Lopez quickly asked me what the problem was and I explained that I didn't want any money taken from my bank account that he had just said it would come from the grant money before depositing it. He assured me that that was the case, and I just needed to answer yes and it would be taken care of.
At this point, since I believed that I had "protected" myself with a "deposit only" account number, I went ahead and said yes.
About a week later, I noticed on my bank statement a fee of $49.95 for Advantage America, and NO $12,500! I was shocked and quickly contacted the bank to find out what happened. I was informed that there is no such thing as a "deposit only" account number and that I was misinformed by the other customer service rep. I then contacted Advantage America, complaining that I had been lied to and that I wanted a refund, and they refused.
I also received a little package in the mail from Advantage America with a bunch of coupons, and a letter that told me that if I didn't call within 7 days that I would be charged $399.95 for the "Grant" information services. Unfortunately I didn't see that IMPORTANT little piece of information until 8 or 9 days had passed, but I called them anyway asking them to cancel everything and issue a refund for the $49.95. I was informed that they couldn't do that and that they had already charged me the $399.95.
I quickly called my bank, and talked to a customer service representative and told them my story. They did some research and determined that the first transaction had been hand cleared since the account number was incorrectly formated for an electronic transaction. They then told me that the only way to get the money back, since it was paid with a check, was to fill out a "affidavit of forgery" which basically charges Advantage America as though they criminally forged my signature.
At this point I may have to withdraw the "affidavit of forgery" since I actually answered "yes" to their question even though I originally answered "no" and was coerced into saying "yes". I am now working with my bank and plan to conference call Advantage America tomorrow to once again demand a refund of the $49.95 since it was taken from me by their deceptive lying practices.
If you received a call from "Advantage America", JUST HANG UP! don't even give them a chance to rip you off! and whatever you do, don't answer "Yes" to any of their questions! They may record it and use it as the yes for removing funds from your account.
U.S.A. EDitor's Suggestions on how to get your money back! HERE IS WHAT RIP-OFF REPORT SUGGESTS YOU DO:
Go to your bank within 60 days of the charge, or as soon as you know about the charge, don't delay, and tell them that there has been fraudulent activity within your account. Explain that you wish to file a dispute, and demand that they assist you in accordance with Federal Regulation E.
According to the majority of victims interviewed by Rip-off Report, those who immediately called their banks to dispute the charges did not get very far. Many victims got the following responses from their banks: we could not do anything for you or you waited too long; it has been more than 60 days.
If the bank is says that you have waited too long, explain to them how you called their 800 number as soon as the charges were found, and were told by the bank that nothing could be done. Remind the bank that they failed to assist you properly at the 800 #, and instead, provided you with an inadequate explanation of your right to dispute. Tell the bank that it's their fault time has expired, and since they gave you the wrong info to begin with, they will just have to deal with it, take the loss and reverse the charges.
Tell them the truth; this was unauthorized and your account was NOT to be charged! Keep emphasizing how you never authorized anything! Direct them to the hundreds of victims reports that were filed on Rip-off Report.com. And if you're at the bank, walk them over to their computer and make them go to this site! If you are on the phone with them, tell them you will wait while they access this site! Either way, be persistent! DO NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER!
Let them know nicely, that you were advised to Report them (the Bank) and this situation to the Banking Commission in your state. Since each state has a different name for the agency/controller over banks, find that name before you call or get to the bank so you can throw it in their face. The more knowledgeable you appear to be, the further you will get.
And just continue to demand the Federal Regulation E form! The bank CAN, MUST and WILL reverse the charge! But, you must be persistent; ask to speak to the supervisor or the area manager for all the branches in the state.
Let the bank personnel know you are meeting with the media later in the day, that you would much rather they do the right thing (as most other banks have) by looking at the complaints and immediately reversing the charge(s) to your account; no matter how long ago it was. Be sure to call the Media if necessary so you are telling the truth.
If you have to, be loud (but nice) in front of other customers. If you are just calling by phone, the above tactics should still work. The bank can easily fax or mail to you the Federal Regulation E dispute form. CHARGES TO YOUR CREDIT CARD
If the charge was to your credit card (not debit card, check card, or checking account), contact the credit card company as soon as possible to request a dispute form. Consumers usually have a little longer to dispute fraudulent credit card charges (up to 6 months), but it is better to act right away. In this type of situation, credit card disputes are usually successful since fraudulent companies often won't contest the disputed charge. In rare cases, credit card companies will review disputes, but refuse to reverse the charges. If this occurs, complain to a manager and let them know you will be filing a report here.
Remember Don't let them get away with it! Make sure they make the Rip-off Report .. The more Reports filed on a Company or individual, the more likely it is that the authorities, media and attorneys will want to take action.
And good luck Let us know how you do!
ED Magedson Founder, Rip-off Report.com & Author of www.ripoffrevenge.com EDitor@ripoffreport.com bad
Don't let them get away with it.
Make sure they make the Rip-off Report!
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We are a Worldwide Consumer Reporting News Agency ...by consumers, for consumers CLICK HERE to read about Credit Card Scams... find out how to get your money back. *Rip-off Report Investigation provides valuable information.