I just got off the phone trying to straighten out a rip-off with my elderly brother-in-law. In April, he noticed unauthorized debits in the amounts of $3.95 and $119.90. Someone had obtained his account information and "enrolled" him in the "program" (the same alleged discount program reported by many other people on this website).
The bank was wise enough to refund the fraudulent transactions according to Reg E, like Rip-off Report recommends. The bank closed his account and gave him a new account number. Less than six weeks later, he got another debit (a paper draft - like a check) on his NEW account for $239.80, which happens to be 119.90 times two.
We called the bank, who called the payee, Buyers Union, at the number listed on the draft. They said he enrolled in the "program" and agreed to participate. They had his name, address, telephone number and bank account information, which they verified while we were on the phone.
With a lot of double-talk thrown in, the man said that $119.90 was debited in error and that they would be issuing an electronic refund within 10-14 days (if you have read any of the other complaints, this will sound VERY familiar). He said they had a recording of the sale, where he supposedly agreed to participate.
He offered to call back later and play it back to my brother-in-law. While we were on the phone with him, I found the website you are visiting and was appalled how many people had almost EXACTLY the same problem within a few days of each other.
Fortunately, the woman from the bank didn't buy any of it. Partly because the "enrollment" happened in April, and the old account was closed on April 25 and the new debit hit the new account long after the old account had been closed.
The bank is processing a refund, and did another close-and-transfer to yet another new account. The bank put an alert on the account not to give out ANY information without a unique PIN number that my brother-in-law selected at the time the account was opened.
Besides the rip-off pattern, where countless people have been hit with the same 119.90 debits, somehow the company got the NEW account number. The only way we can explain this is that they called the bank posing as the customer (they had enough info to do it) and getting the new account number when their debits rejected against the closed account.
My advice: Don't EVER give out your account number or personal information to ANYONE. Some reputable companies will take your account number for payments, but ONLY IF YOU CALL THEM.
If someone calls you, you have no way of knowing who they are. No matter how good the offer sounds, HANG UP!! The old adage is true: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
If you don't have a debit card, get one, because Visa and MasterCard are a lot more liberal with refunds than the EFT act requires. Unlike a debit card, anyone can create a fake check drawn on your account, and there's not much you can do about it except jump through hoops and hope your real checks don't bounce in the process.
If it does happen, read your bank's Electronic Funds Transfer Disclosure carefully. It will give you specific instructions on how to resolve it. There is a 60 day limit from the time you became aware of the transaction, which typically is considered the date you received the statement that has the error (not from the transaction date, but it helps to be within 60 days of the transaction date to avoid catching a hard time from anyone, because it is easier to document).
Most importantly, CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT. As much of a hassle as it is, it's the only way to stop unauthorized activity. Have the bank put a restriction on your new account not to discuss account information with ANYONE without verifying a unique password that isn't part of your telephone number, address, social security number or any other easy-to-figure-out personal information. If they aren't willing, CHANGE BANKS. The crooks won't find you if you aren't there anymore.
Don't return a "refund authorization" to the company. It's just a stall tactic - they didn't need authorization to take your money - they don't need it to give it back! Don't give them an opportunity to call you back - if you didn't talk to them, they can't possibly have a recording, and they won't call you back, anyway. Let your bank handle it. I've been in banking over 20 years and the EFT laws are very specific - follow the bank's EFT Dispute instructions CAREFULLY!
(Notice to Rip-Off Report: I don't even trust you. To protect my privacy, I gave a fake name and did not give my street address or phone number. The story is completely true)
Silver Spring, Maryland