I have been slammed in a most egregious manner as a result (says the FTC) of the new federal law, the Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act of July 2001.
On October 10, 2001 I received a piece of junk mail from a company I had never heard of, PremierHealth Trends, P. O. Box 241208, Omaha, NE 68124-1208. I almost threw it in the trash, but for some reason I decided to open it. What a shock!
The letter informed me that I had decided to try their service for 30 days and that if I didn't cancel by telephone at 877-891-7522 within 30 days they would bill my credit card for a year's service and that unless I cancelled they would do this every year!!
What credit card? I never heard of this company! And they sent me this in an unmarked envelope that looked like a piece of common junk mail! I'm sure they were hoping I'd just toss it in the trash.
It turned out that Chevron (800-243-8766) had actually given them my credit card number without my knowledge or permission! Of course, Chevron now owns a bank which finances their credit cards, and they are no longer interested in having their cards used only for gasoline purchases paid off monthly. They're interested in credit that implies interest income.
I wrote to my senator, Phil Gramm to ask if this was indeed now legal as a result of the Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act. I explained to him that free enterprise is not about making it easy for merchants and banks to plunder his constituents' bank accounts and forcing a credit card holder to read every piece of junk mail that comes in to be sure something like this is not happening.
Saturday, January 4, 2002 I received a package of papers 3/16 inch thick from the senator's office. The question I asked seemed to have been forgotten, and all I got was a lot of boiler plate and peripherally related printed material which I could have downloaded or read from the FTC website. None of this directly addressed the question I asked. So I wrote Senator Gramm another letter in which I said:
"I attach my previous letter and will rephrase the question I asked there below. I would appreciate a clear, short, and honest answer to the question.
Does the Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act of July 2001 permit businesses to send a private citizen unsolicited notices which inform the recipient that unless the citizen responds to the notice in a prescribed way the business will bill an amount to the citizen's credit cardwhich account number has been disclosed to the sender by another business entity with whom the citizen has done legitimate business in the past?"
This time I got an answer from the Senator. He said that his new law does not permit such methods. Yet, this type of fraud is rampant. I know several people who have had the same experience. If the Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act does not specifically permit this type of hustle it facilitates it by allowing credit card issuers to share information about holders with other merchants without the holder's knowledge or permission. The only way you can avoid this is to write to every card issuer you deal with and deny them this permission. I say this puts the cart before the horse. The law ought to be repealed.
Fort Worth, Texas