• Report: #686842

Complaint Review: Bank of America Privacy Assist

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  • Submitted: Tue, January 25, 2011
  • Updated: Sat, March 01, 2014

  • Reported By: Y. — Newton Massachusetts USA
Bank of America Privacy Assist
3901 Stonecroft Blvd Chantilly, Virginia United States of America

Bank of America Privacy Assist Intersections Inc. Free Trial Scam, Deceptive Marketing. Chantilly, Virginia

*Consumer Comment: Privacy Assist Customer Here

*Consumer Comment: Bank Of America Anonymous Replies Again

*Consumer Comment: DECEPTION POEM...

*Consumer Comment: DECEPTION POEM

*Consumer Comment: Here is the problem I have with Steve...

*Consumer Comment: "LADY GAGA SONG 3"......

*Consumer Comment: Still comes down to good old common sense.

*Author of original report: Author responds to allegation of carelessness

*Consumer Comment: Okay Steve..I will put down the crack pipe...

*Consumer Comment: Y., Much of the U.S. economy thrives on deception, manipulation......

*Consumer Comment: Ronny...REALLY?? First Premier... AGAIN????

*Consumer Comment: I actually agree with Steve in this case...

*Consumer Suggestion: Always ask "how much is FREE going to cost me"?

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"YES. Please send my complimentary 3-in-1 Credit Report + 3 Credit Scores and activate my 30-day no-cost credit file monitoring with alerts."

I read the Activation Form for Bank of America Privacy Assist identity theft protection. I did not need identity theft protection, but why not? After all, it's FREE. The large words at the top of the page said clearly "30-day no-cost". I assumed after 30 days nothing would happen. I saw there was some other text, but I didn't read it. I signed my name and dated it 1/12/09. It also asked for my email address "(for fastest notifications)" and I wrote it. I mailed it back in the business reply envelope and promptly forgot the whole thing.

I received some letters from Bankof America Privacy Assist. I later learned they came once every three months. NONE of these letters even HINTED that the service is not free.

I did NOTreceive any email from Privacy Assist even though I gave them my email address. The service includes access to a website, but without receiving any emails I was not consciously aware of that. (The written letters did invite me to access the website, but again, I did NOT know that I was paying for it.)

I was not in the habit of auditing my monthly bank statements. I checked the big things like rent and salary.

In May 2010, I noticed a debit for $12.99 labeled "Privacy Assist" followed by numerical codes. I labeled it "What is this?" on my online banking with Bank of America, but I didn't follow up. I did NOT know that my right to appeal would expire in 60 days. I thought "Privacy Assist" was a code for how my student loans to Citibank were being paid. I did NOTrecognize "Privacy Assist" as the name of a separate entity. Had the statement read "Bank of America Privacy Assist" I probably would have discovered the fraud 4 months earlier and saved $51.96.

Upon reviewing statements through the summer, I noticed that Privacy Assist and my student loans were two separate things. When I saw three consecutive months of Privacy Assist, I remained silent no longer. I walked into a Bank of America branch and was told what this was, and I canceled it. I didn't ask when I signed up. I looked at home and noticed this unauthorized charge of $12.99 for the prior 19 months, a total of $246.81. That's 1% of my annual salary, stolen from my bank account surreptitiously! They didn't even tell me they were doing it!? I thought they would send me a bill, like the newspaper or electric company...when did I agree to this? What did I do?

I went back to Bank of America with a demand letter. The rep called Privacy Assist and arranged to send me a Proof of Enrollment. The Activation Form had in headline text a statement that I'd sign up for a "30-day no-cost" deal. In smaller print, it continued:

"By signing below and enrolling in the Bank of America Privacy Assist Premier credit monitoring service, I am entitled to review the membership materials for 30 days at no cost. Unless I notify you during my 30 day trial period to discontinue my membership by calling the Bank of America Privacy Assist Premier service tool-free number at 1.800.516.9561, my membership will automatically be continued at the $12.99 monthly membership fee. I authorize you to debit the membership fee from my Bank of America checking account each month. My satisfaction is important. Even after my 30 day no cost trial period, I may cancel at any time and will be under no further obligation." (The rest of the text is immaterial.)

Understand: I did not give my checking account number. I simply signed a form which said I'd authorize "you" (Intersections Inc.) to deduct $12.99 per month from my Bank of America checking account. But who gave Intersections Inc. my account number? Or, who gave Bank of America to give my account number to a third party company?

Most scams involve a company taking the consumer's credit card number, then billing it. I did not give any account number. All I did was to sign a form. I did not know it was possible to authorize a transaction without using a check, credit card, or some other financial instrument which contains an account number. The name of thistype of transaction is a "demand draft."

The legal basis for this type of free trial scam seems flimsy to me. 18 CFR 310, the Telemarketer Sales Rule, says thatif a telemarketer sells a free-to-pay conversion, i.e. a "free trial", and the telemarketer already has the consumer's account number, then the consumer MUST give at least the last four digits of his account number. This prevents the consumer from wondering: "How could they have charged me? They saidit was free, and they didn't ask for an account number."

I had EXACTLY the same thought. The only difference was: I replied to direct mail, not a phone call, so the telemarketer sales rule does not apply. I still believe this is fraud on general principles, but the net loss of $220.83 after I received the two months' mandatory refund from Intersections Inc. is too small to litigate.

My only opportunity was to be more aware when that solicitation came in the mail. Nobody should have to read that carefully to make sure that a "free trial" is actually free. On the contrary, the burden should be on the consumer to furnish an account number even if the solicitation comes by mail.

I strongly urge you to: (1) avoid Bank of America Privacy Assist and Intersections Inc. because they use dishonest marketing practices; (2) Read any contract carefully before you sign it because you never know when someone will set a nasty trap; and (3) Review every transaction on your monthly bank statements, even the small dollar transactions.


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/25/2011 10:05 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Bank-of-America-Privacy-Assist/Chantilly-Virginia-20153/Bank-of-America-Privacy-Assist-Intersections-Inc-Free-Trial-Scam-Deceptive-Marketing-Ch-686842. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
1Author 12Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Privacy Assist Customer Here

AUTHOR: Ala R - (United States of America)

Privacy assist is a service I have used for years and is well worth the money. Not only do you get notified every time there is activity on your credit report but you can request a credit report at any time and you also get $25,000 of insurance against fraudulent activity. I was paying $9 a month for the same service from BB&T and they did not offer any insurance nor was there an online login available. Nothing is truly 'free' and I think this consumer has their own naivety and lack of reading fine print to blame. I also never had any issue cancelling my service. One phone call all charges stopped. I did cancel when I moved my banking to BB&T and was using their service but went back to Privacy Assist when I realized you get insurance for the money you pay as well as peace of mind that your credit is not being used without your knowledge.
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#2 Consumer Comment

Bank Of America Anonymous Replies Again

AUTHOR: paralegalwerewolf - (USA)

How many times do readers need to view the pattern of anonymous BOA replies to know it is one or more Bank employee's who must be paid to write hundreds of coverup replies to BOA complaints every month.

Bottom line is that consumers must know "where there's smoke,. . . . there's fire" so.....similarly,
where there are hundreds of Bank of America complaints, including overbilling and outrageous false overdraft daily fee's, a consumer should close the accound and go to Citizens Bank or another Bank (except Sovereign who charges a $5.00 business check cashing fee that particularly bothered me).

Wake up and smell the "I need a new Bank" scent in the spring air.

Michael Kevin DuPont
paralegalassociates@hotmail.com
857-756-4583
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#3 Consumer Comment

DECEPTION POEM...

AUTHOR: Karl - (USA)

is available in the consumer comments section at this Ripoff Report.

Thank You

***OCCUPY WALL STREET ALERT: Anyone can 'Google' this- POLICE CAPTAIN TO BE PUNISHED OVER OWS SUPPORT RT, and watch the video and read the article on the web.
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#4 Consumer Comment

DECEPTION POEM

AUTHOR: Karl - (USA)

DECEPTION POEM

Deceive them
Make profits
Take money away
It's evil
It's business
The American way
Hire lawyers
And others
To do what is wrong
Deceive them
Make profits
Keep Wall Street so strong
This poem
Is ending
But more soon to come
Expose them
Write poems
Make the big-shots go numb!

End.

Anyone can stay at this site and type in 269041 and go to 'Consumer Comment #3' at Ripoff Report #269041 and read the following quote:

"A Harvard Business Professor said that EXPOSURE is a corporation's WORST FEAR!" - 8/21/2007

Thank You

POWER TO THE PEOPLE


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#5 Consumer Comment

Here is the problem I have with Steve...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

First, I will say that I do agree that people should read terms and "fine print" more carefully before agreeing to anything. I also agree that anytime something is implied to as "free" , it should be a warning signal that it will inevitably cost and is "bait" or a "trap" so to speak...is it "common sense" really? Not to everyone Steve, some do learn the hard way but STILL.... does this make it any less of a rip off? Let us discuss....

Where I do have a problem is when Steve states something like this..and I quote "You failed on both counts, so no "rip off" here. PAY ATTENTION!! Problem solved!!"

No Steve, sorry. The problem is NOT solved. You know damn well that the bank is offering this knowing full well that a percentage of their customers will fall for this scam by exactly what happened to the OP..sign up for the "free" and then forget the whole thing. So what I am saying is that there IS a problem here, and there is a CLEAR RIP OFF here. Granted it is avoidable and not everyone is as wise as you Steve...not everyone is so keen like you (well other then you agreeing to anything with First Premier Bank idiot), either way..it was a good thing for this poster to report here to warn others. Oh..and speaking of "problem"...

....one other problem is it seems, that you Steve once again FAIL...brutally and epically FAIL to understand what the term "rip off" means. Just because someone failed to understand or properly read the terms of an agreement or contract be it from a bank, a mechanic, a car dealership, even BestBuy or a bakery for that matter...does not necessarily mean in every case they were not ripped off, or that a rip off did not occur....even if the "victim" made a mistake and is primarily at fault for the occurrence. (yes Steve, can you believe it?? People make mistakes and are not as perfect as you...well other then your problem with First Premier Bank and your dead beat loans etc well guess you cleared all that up now).

Here are some of many definitions/examples of the term "rip off" found from online dictionaries ...

A ripoff (or rip-off) is a bad financial transaction. Usually it refers
to an incident in which a person overpays for something. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rip_off

Verb1.rip off
- deprive somebody of something by deceit; "The con-man beat me out of
$50"; "This salesman ripped us off!"; "we were cheated by their
clever-sounding scheme
";  cheat or trick; "He cozened the money out of the old man"fleece, gazump, overcharge, plume, rob, soak, surcharge, hook, pluck - rip off; ask an unreasonable price, bunco, con, defraud, diddle, gip, goldbrick, gyp, hornswoggle, mulct, nobble, rook, scam, swindle, short-change, victimize
- deprive of by deceit; ; "She defrauded the customers who trusted her"; "bilk - cheat beat -  - victimize,  - make a victim of; "I was victimized by this con-man"beguile, hoodwink, juggle - influence by slyness


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#6 Consumer Comment

"LADY GAGA SONG 3"......

AUTHOR: Karl - (USA)

will be submitted in the consumer comments section at Ripoff Report this week!

Keep coming to this site every day to see if it has been posted. Just type in all of the following-

MERRILL LYNCH
GMAC
ONE WEST
INDYMAC
HAMP
OBAMA
BUSH
DICK CHENEY
BANK OF AMERICA
WELLS FARGO 
US BANK
JP MORGAN CHASE
MORGAN STANLEY
BLACKSTONE GROUP
GOLDMAN SACHS
TOYOTA
FEDERAL RESERVE
US GOVERNMENT
NBC
GM CREDIT CARD SERVICES
CLINTON
BOUNTIFUL BREAST
LADY GAGA


Thank You
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#7 Consumer Comment

Still comes down to good old common sense.

AUTHOR: Steve - (U.S.A.)

This really is nothing but common sense, or the lack thereof.
Common sense tells you that if a company is offering something for "free" that there is some reason for it. After all, what would the incentive to the business be to just give away free stuff??

And, on top of that just paying attention!
The terms and conditions of the "free" offer were disclosed where anyone who was even slightly paying attention could see what the deal was.

You failed on both counts, so no "rip off" here. PAY ATTENTION!! Problem solved!!

Then, what puzzles me is that you would not carefully check your bank statement every month.
You don't reconcile your account??
How could you possibly miss this charge for so many months?? 19 months??

You REALLY need to learn how to pay attention.


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#8 Author of original report

Author responds to allegation of carelessness

AUTHOR: Y. Robinson - (USA)

One commenter wrote that Bank of America Privacy Assist did NOT cheat me, and the debits from my account were NOT unauthorized because I should have read the authorization form carefully, and I should have reviewed every transaction on my bank statements carefully.

I have learned painful lessons from this experience. However, I still know that I was cheated. I did not knowingly agree to pay money. The authorization form said in BIG LETTERS that they were offering something free. In small letters it said I would pay. FURTHERMORE, I was NOT asked to provide my account number, so I saw no indication that I was entering into a financial transaction. Contrast this against victims of credit card scams -- if you give your credit card number, you should expect the counterparty to use it. I did not give my account number. Bank of America gave my account number. All I did was to sign and date a piece of paper.

It's easy to say in hindsight that you should be suspicious of "free trials" because they might not be free. I understand. It's easy to say you should review every transaction on your bank statement because you never know if an "identity theft protection" company might be stealing your identity.

The problem is that everyone is born without knowledge. We learn and we grow. Most people become victims of scams or cheating at some point in their lives. (If not most, say many.) The whole concept of consumer protection is that unwary consumers should not be confronted with certain traps in the first instance. Consumers should not have to read the fine print to know that they are authorizing an automatic debit even though they did not give an account number. It's not fair. If you are entering into a financial transaction, you should KNOW THAT YOU ARE ENTERING INTO A FINANCIAL TRANSACTION. In every other instance I've ever entered an automatic debit, or possibly a transaction of any form, I've always been required to present an account number, a credit card, a check which has an account number on it...something to indicate that it's a financial transaction. Not just a form to sign and date that makes the automatic debit a fait accompli.

It's not possible to make this concept work in all situations. Sometimes a person makes a phone call without realizing that they will be charged a high fee for it, or you can leave the faucet and lights on and wind up paying extra utility charges. But in those cases, the structure of the financial agreement predates the unintended incident. Here, there was no agreement -- just a trick. I didn't know. If you read and understand the story, you should understand why I didn't know. The activation form was intentionally designed to trick people like me. I only wonder how many other victims are still paying.
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#9 Consumer Comment

Okay Steve..I will put down the crack pipe...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

..which I seldom do..I live by the crack pipe.

The crack pipe is now put down. I made sure it will not burn any of my furniture just so I could respond to you.

I have no "obsession" with the"First Premier thing", I simply am using it as an analogy. It is related and I will explain how and why.

It is because I notice you slamming posters on this website over and over and over again telling them they are dumb, or did not pay attention or anything to make it out to be they were not ripped off..but simply victim to their own stupidity and ignorance. And I agree..this does happen.

Whatever happened to "prove" your late payment was made on time..I was unaware of. So if you were not late..then I would imagine there was a chance the bank did something wrong and not you?

So, if I understand correctly..you were fully aware of this scam SUB PRIME...and the WORST OFFENDERS of taking advantage of SUB PRIME borrowers (you can google this if you need more info) not only with one account..but TWO???...and yet you still signed up?

How bad was your credit that you would do this? I have YET to see you post a reasonable response. However I DO NOT and WILL not judge you because you may have hit some hard times...if can happen to anyone. But why do you troll here with what seems like blatant attempts to discredit, insult, belittle and otherwise mock any and everyone who lodges a report against anyone..but when you did it..it is legit? Or was is so unbearable for you that your Sunday breakfast was disturbed with a call telling you that you are a fucking deadbeat...that you think taking this out on other victims will help?

If I have failed to comprehend anything please post back and educate me..as I stated I put the crack pipe down and I am all ears, virtually speaking.

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#10 Consumer Comment

Y., Much of the U.S. economy thrives on deception, manipulation......

AUTHOR: Karl - (USA)

and trickery, in order for many people to earn money.

It's that simple!

***Without lies, deception, fraud, manipulation, greed, trickery, deep corruption, and the constant pursuit to financially injure innocent consumers in this country, a large portion of the U.S. economy would shut down, in my opinion.

Example: If you 'Google' this- FINANCIAL CRISIS WAS AVOIDABLE, you can read that article that came out today. The bankers and the regulators are mainly responsible for the economic meltdown, because they allowed it to happen!

However, they made money as a result of tricking, deceiving, and manipulating, millions upon millions of innocent and unsuspecting people. There are many people who never took out an 'ARM' (Adjustable Rate Mortgage), an 'Interest Only Mortgage', or even re-financed their home, but home values all over America have declined significantly as a result of what has happened.

Millions upon millions of innocent people have lost their jobs, due to the economic meltdown. Our entire 'system' in this country thrives on LIES, DECEPTION, MANIPULATION, GREED, TRICKERY, DEEP CORRUPTION, & the CONSTANT PURSUIT TO FINANCIALLY INJURE AS MANY INNOCENT PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE, in my opinion.

That's why there was a 'collapse'.

And since things haven't really changed, I'm 100% certain that we'll experience another collapse in the near future.

P.S. Your elected officials work for, and serve, these same bankers, regulators, and corporate elite, who were responsible for what has happened in this country and in other countries. What you hear them say is what they want you to believe. Don't listen to what they say, watch what they do instead.

You can 'Google' this- WHO OWNS THE FED?, and go to the site with the 5 charts to see who your elected officials, regulators, & corporate elite really work for.

Good luck to you!

WELCOME TO AMERICA- ONE BIG LIE

***************************** Lie Alert ******************************

*Just type in 608350 at this site and go to 'Consumer Comment #21' at Ripoff Report #608350 to read- "ONE BIG LIE POEM"

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#11 Consumer Comment

Ronny...REALLY?? First Premier... AGAIN????

AUTHOR: Steve - (U.S.A.)

Ronny,

I cannot figure out your obsession with this First premier thing, especially when it is not related at all to this issue on this thread.

The initial post I made, was made PRIOR to a full investigation of events.

It has now been proven that I made the paymenmt on time. Therefore, I was not "late'

First Premier failed to process and post the payment to my account in a timely manner, although my bank investigated and showed me a copy of the processed check which shows they stamped it and deposited it 2 days prior to the "due date" on my account.

Once again, my issue with First Premier NEVER had ANYTHING to do with any late fee or any of the terms and conditions on the account.

My ONLY issue was the use of crackheaded,"thug mentality" losers calling me early on a Sunday morning which is NOT a business day. AND having me in "collections" in less than 24 hours from the Saturday due date, which is not a business day either. And, all of this over $17.xx!!

The part this idiot could not comprehend is that I don't give my checking account info to anyone! I never do this. NO EXCEPTIONS. This is what separates me from all of the idiots on here that freely give out their checking account information and then post on here how someone has 'stolen" their money, etc.

Then to make it worse, this crackheaded thug idiot DEMANDED my bank account info be given over the phone for a phone payment. This crackheaded thug idiot got nasty with me when I said the payment was already sent, and accused me of being a liar. That was the problem.

And, my reasons for dealing with First Premier are mine, and mine alone. I went into the arrangement fully informed, and accepted the terms and conditions, and fees. No problem there.

This "collections issue" should have never happened, as I WAS NOT LATE!!!Are you to damn stupid to grasp that concept?? They put me in collections for THEIR MISTAKE!!!

Now, they owe me money, as my payment was made twice, as I paid it again while they were figuring it out, and while my bank was investigating.

Maybe I should put THEM in "collections".

Get off the crack pipe, and get some mental help. Then go back to the third grade and learn how to read and comprehend.

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#12 Consumer Comment

I actually agree with Steve in this case...

AUTHOR: Ronny g - (USA)

..but he is not going to like the facts I post next...

1) Steve, apparently a payment from you to First Premier did not reach them by the due date. So...what is the problem? Unless something resulted to your disliking from a payment arriving late? Did you read and study your agreement like it was the f****** bible and the eternity of your soul depended on it??..or did you just "assume" a bank could be trusted not to anally screw you over?

2) Are you to say that the banks are all innocent from any "wrongdoing"?? but yet the fact that you were called while eating your fancy breakfast that the bank is "out of luck" and will "just have to wait" (bear in mind I am quoting YOU when I put any statements in quotes).

3) Are you saying in your report that being only one day late and the bank charged YOU a whopping bankruptcy declaring $25.00 late fee "amazed" you?..or to quote DIRECTLY from your report verbatim...." I was simply amazed at this level of greed, arrogance, and corruption..."

4) So, in conclusion..it seems your "advice" is to "steer clear of this bank" since the "idiots" can not comprehend a "lost piece of mail"....but if anyone else has a problem with a bank the "advice" according to you Steve...is to "pay attention"???????????

Please..correct me if I am wrong. Show me the errors of my ways. I need guidance.

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#13 Consumer Suggestion

Always ask "how much is FREE going to cost me"?

AUTHOR: Steve - (U.S.A.)

Whenever anyone offers you something for "free", always ask, "how much is FREE going to cost me"? The bottom line here is that nothing is really "free". Just common sense. "Free" is almost always a lead in to an automatic purchase requirement.There was really no rip off here, as you admitted that you never actually read the fine print on the offer, and also that you never really looked closely at your bank account statement.

These charges were NOT "unauthorized" as you stated, and no money was "stolen" from your account. After all, in reality, you authorized this deduction whether or not you realized it or not.

People just need to learn how to pay attention, and most "rip offs" will not happen.

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