Privacy Matters "Free Credit Report" signs you up for a service you're unaware of: Your Savings Club, and charges you $1/month until you figure it out and cancel, and they won't refund the charges.
Privacy Matters offers free credit reports online. They tell you they need your credit card number to make a $1 charge to that end, and that it is a subscription service for which you will be charged if you don't cancel, but you can cancel anytime.
What you don't realize is that in the process you agree to a second, separate service called Your Savings Club that charges $1/month.
News Channel 7's Dianne Derby did an expose on this very problem. Here is a link: http://www.wspa.com/spa/news/problem_solver/article/problem_solver/8011/
In June 2008 I signed up in order to get the free credit report (obviously I made a big mistake in giving them my credit card information). The following day I called and cancelled, as Privacy Matters had recommended.
A few months later, on my September statement I noticed this strange $1/month charge from YOURSAVINGSCL and called my credit card company, which had only a phone number to an automated line that allows you to cancel the subscription.
Then I remembered that around the same time these charges started I had gotten the credit report. I went back and found my information from that, and called Privacy Matters, and it turns out they are the same company as Your Savings Club. (If you want to call, that number is 800-436-0817.) They will refund my money for September and cancel my subscription but will not refund the prior charges.
We're only talking about $3 here, but the business ethics are dirty. According to Derby's report, 88 customers have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau indicating they had no recollection of signing up for this service, but were charged. Also see this link to the BBB's unsatisfactory report on the company (Vertrue, dba Privacy Matters). http://nebraska.bbb.org/WWWRoot/Report.aspx?site=135&bbb=0714&firm=107000028
Remember, we're talking just a few dollars, here, so most people won't bother to make complaints ... what's in it for them other than a sense of justice? Which gives me the sense that they've ripped off many people.
I'm disputing it through my credit card company, but the dispute resolution department told me they get many complaints against this company, but generally they lose, because it's somewhere in the fine print of the terms (to which you click "Agree") that you are signing up for the service.
It's true that the burden is on the consumer to know what they're agreeing to, and I acknowledge that in that sense the $4 I have been charged, $1 of which has been refunded, is my own fault. But clearly Privacy Matters is intending for the consumer to sign up for a service for which they don't intend to sign up.
It's a great scam; the amounts are small, so the majority of people won't spend time pursuing the matter; the company name on the credit card differs from the company you signed up with, so you really might never figure out how you signed up; the phone number on your credit card allows you to cancel the subscription, but does not allow you to talk to anyone to figure out what the charges are for, and again, the amount of money each consumer is out is so small, most will probably not bother to pursue it further.
But I hope this company's practices will be investigated based on the number of complaints against them. Incidentally, one of their customer service people told me they're members of the BBB, but that appears to be false.
Princeton, New Jersey