Report: #1296037

Complaint Review: Checkmate.com

  • Submitted: Sat, March 26, 2016
  • Updated: Sat, March 26, 2016
  • Reported By: Debbie/Edward — Streator Illinois USA
  • Checkmate.com

    Internet
    USA

Instant Checkmate Signed in for $1.00 trial and cancelled following month.Found out today, the 26 of March 2016 that I've had an active account and charged $29.95 per month for a service I used the day I signed up which is almost a year ago May 2015.  Internet

*General Comment: Consumer was not thorough or duly diligent.

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

*

I called today and gave them this information and they would only refund me for 3 months for a total of $88.88 On my bank statements, the following month apparently they continued to charge monthly but it wasn't charged under their own company name of Instant Checkmate. I then attributed these ongoing charges to something my husband bought. Apparently I was incorrect. My email NEVER CHANGED. THE company could've communicated about my account status and charges which most companies do. My working phone number is (((REDACTED))). The original number I put in on this form is my Samsung phone which broke last night. I feel this is dishonest manipulative way to take advantage of consumers. They have the ability to see the usage on my account (or lack of usage. They could've communicated via email or phone the fact that my account was being charged after I cancelled and charges to my account for services I used for trial period. I'm so disappointed.. I am on disability and my husband on social security. That's alot of money to us..

*

I pretty much explained the situation/problem with Instant Checkmate above. I used trial period and looked up  my own name and cancelled following day. I've been charged since May 2015.. Unauthorized on my card. But it was inconspicuous because it was charged under a different name. I thought it was a $29.95 charge was my husband's cell phone bill. I chose to call them as I saw their add again and thought it would be wise to confirm my account was cancelled in May2015. I showed my husband the charges and he told me that this wasn't the automatic monthly cell phone company. Called company..they would only refund me $88.88. For a service I didn't use and authorize continued charges. Can you help me? Deborah  Streator,IL 61364

 

I used a debit card from my bank account authorized for trial period only .

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/26/2016 08:30 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/checkmatecom/internet/instant-checkmate-signed-in-for-100-trial-and-cancelled-following-monthfound-out-today-1296037. 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. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 General Comment

Consumer was not thorough or duly diligent.

AUTHOR: FactsAndTruths - (USA)

I spent some time researching these claims out of curiosity. Funny way to spend my free time, I know, but I just hate to see good businesses that get a bad rap from misinformed and irresponsible consumers. Here are facts that are relevant to the consumer's complaint along with supporting links for clarity and proof.

Here is a link to the sign up page for the website in question:
https://www.instantcheckmate.com/register/

At the moment, it seems they offer the following memberships:

Recommended MOST POPULAR!
1 month of UNLIMITED Reports       $22.86/mo*

Power Users
3 months of UNLIMITED Reports      $18.24/mo* ($54.71 Today)

That was copied and pasted straight from the page at the link above. Notice the asterisk. That points to further conditions which are right to the left of where the above appears. Here is what it states:

"How does the billing work?
*Billing Details: To get unlimited reports, select a 1 month membership for $22.86 or a 3 month membership for $54.71. Your membership will automatically renew for the same term unless you cancel before the start of the next term. Instant Checkmate will charge the recurring membership fee of $22.86 or $54.71 (depending on the membership option you select) to the same card you use today until you cancel. To cancel, call 1-800-222-8985 24 hours a day."

That was also copied and pasted from the page at the link above. Notice that it describes that the billing is recurring in nature and must be cancelled in order to stop the billing.

Further down the page on the right hand side, there are two checkboxes that a consumer must check in order to sign up for the service. The website will not allow someone to sign up without checking those boxes. Here is what those checkboxes say, again, copied right from the page at the link above:

Checkbox 1
"I agree to the Instant Checkmate Terms of Use, Limited License, and Privacy Policy. Click "View My Report" to provide your electronic signature authorizing Instant Checkmate to charge your card as described in the Billing Details, including for the automatic renewal of your membership, until you cancel."

Checkbox 2
"I understand and agree that InstantCheckmate is not a "consumer reporting agency," as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.) ("FCRA") and does not provide "consumer reports," as defined in FCRA. I understand and represent that I am not purchasing and will not use instantcheckmate's products or services for any purpose in connection with determining a person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment or for any other eligibility determination subject to FCRA."

According to internet etiquette, checking those boxes acknowledges that the consumer has read the text and is indicating this by checking the box next to it.

Notice that once the consumer clicks on "View My Report", they are giving authorization for Instant Checkmate to bill their card as described in the Billing Details, including for the automatic renewal of their membership, until they cancel. "View My Report" refers to a big green button that is right under and after the checkboxes. Clicking that button completes the sign up and submits the consumer's info for payment and enrolls them in the membership.

If one tries to leave the page, they are offered a trial membership of 5 days for $1. Here is the link:
https://www.instantcheckmate.com/register/special-offer/

The layout of this page is similar to the last, but all the details are different. The membership that is offered is as follows:

5-Day Trial*
Includes UNLIMITED Reports       $1.00* today then $29.63/mo

That is copied and pasted straight from the page at the link above. In the Frequently Asked Questions to the left of that you find the following:

"How does the billing work?
*Your five day $1.00 trial lasts until 5/29/2016. If you would like to cancel before the trial ends, you may do so for any reason and you will not be charged again. Simply call 1-866-490-5980 to speak with one of our Customer Service Representatives 24 hours a day. Otherwise, your trial membership will end on 5/29/2016, at which time you will be charged the standard monthly rate of $29.63. Your membership will automatically renew approximately every 30 days thereafter until you cancel. By clicking "Start My Trial," you are providing your electronic signature authorizing Instant Checkmate to charge your card as described, until you cancel."

Notice that all the terms and conditions of the trial are clearly stated along with relevant dates. Those dates are automatically calculated based on the date a consumer visits the page and tries to sign up. More importantly, notice that if a consumer does not cancel the trial, it becomes a monthly membership.

Further down the page on the right hand side, there are two checkboxes that a consumer must check in order to sign up for the service. The website will not allow someone to sign up without checking those boxes. Here is what those checkboxes say, again, copied right from the page at the link above:

Checkbox 1
"By clicking "Start My Trial," you are providing your electronic signature authorizing Instant Checkmate to charge your card as described. I also agree that unless I cancel my account during my $1.00 trial period, I will be billed $29.63 monthly until I cancel my account, which can be done at any time, hassle free by contacting our US-based member care center."

Checkbox 2
"I understand and agree that Instant Checkmate is not a "consumer reporting agency," as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.) ("FCRA") and does not provide "consumer reports," as defined in FCRA. I understand and represent that I am not purchasing and will not use Instant Checkmate's products or services for any purpose in connection with determining a person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment or for any other eligibility determination subject to FCRA. I agree to the Instant Checkmate Terms of Use, Limited License, and Privacy Policy."

According to internet etiquette, checking those boxes acknowledges that the consumer has read the text and is indicating this by checking the box next to it.

Notice that once the consumer clicks on "Start My Trial", they are giving authorization for Instant Checkmate to bill their card as described, and that unless they cancel their membership during the trial period, they will be billed a monthly charge until they cancel. "Start My Trial" refers to a big green button that is right under and after the checkboxes. Clicking that button completes the sign up and submits the consumer's info for payment and enrolls them in the membership.

If one tries to leave again, they are offered a one time, one person lookup for $29.95. Here is the link:
https://www.instantcheckmate.com/register/single-report/

The layout of this page is similar to the last, but all the details are different. What is offered is as follows:

Complete Background Report $29.95

A yellow header above that states:
"SPECIAL OFFER! GET A ONE-TIME REPORT WITH NO COMMITMENT!"

Down below there is one checkbox this time:

"I understand and agree that Instant Checkmate is not a "consumer reporting agency," as defined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq.) ("FCRA") and does not provide "consumer reports," as defined in FCRA. I understand and represent that I am not purchasing and will not use Instant Checkmate's products or services for any purpose in connection with determining a person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment or for any other eligibility determination subject to FCRA. I agree to the Instant Checkmate Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Limited License."

Signing up on this page seems to provide one check with no further billing after the fact.

These are the different types of memberships and one time checks that the website offers at the moment.

Here is a link to their terms of use:
https://www.instantcheckmate.com/terms-of-use/

A review of the Terms of Use reveals the different types of memberships that are described above and also others that do not appear to be offered at the moment but are still described in the Terms of Use. The details of each are described there and match the details provided on the sign up pages.

With all that information in hand, let's consider the consumer's complaints against the business. They are listed here, not in the order they appear in her original statement but in an order that best allows clear and simple explanations.

Complaint 1
"On my bank statements, the following month apparently they continued to charge monthly but it wasn't charged under their own company name of Instant Checkmate."

Here is a link to the page that explains the different ways to cancel a membership:
https://www.instantcheckmate.com/cancel/

On that page, they list the different ways that a charge from their service would appear on an account statement:

"Instant Checkmate credit card charges will appear as CHKMATE*INSTANTCHECKMA on your credit card statement. Charges may also appear as one of these:

chkmate*instantcheckma
chkmate*instant checkmate
chkmate*instantcheckmate
chkmate*instantche
checkmate*instant checkmate
chkmate*instant
chkmate*instantcheckmat
chkmate*phoneservices
chkmate*instantcheck
chkmate*instant checkmate
checkmate*instant"

The names they use are clearly still for Instant Checkmate. The consumer does not reveal what the charge line stated, so there is no concrete way to address her claim. Unless the consumer received a charge under a different name than those listed on their page though, her complaint in that regard is invalid or misinformed.

Compaint 2
"THE company could've communicated about my account status and charges which most companies do. My working phone number is (((REDACTED))). The original number I put in on this form is my Samsung phone which broke last night. I feel this is dishonest manipulative way to take advantage of consumers. They have the ability to see the usage on my account (or lack of usage. They could've communicated via email or phone the fact that my account was being charged after I cancelled and charges to my account for services I used for trial period."

My understanding of this part of the consumer's complaint is that she feels she should have been notified that she was being billed on an on going basis. Althought I understand where she is coming from, there is no law in the country that requires any membership based service to do so. If Instant Checkmate is chosing not to notify their customers of on going billing, they are perfectly withing their right to do so. In fact, most subscription based services behave the same way. I agree with the consumer's sentiment that the practice seems unfair, but until the law changes, it is up to consumers to carefully read the terms of the services they sign up to use in order to prevent unwanted billing.

Complaint 3
"I used a debit card from my bank account authorized for trial period only ."
"I used trial period and looked up my own name and cancelled following day. I've been charged since May 2015."

The first half of this rebuttal concerned itself with relating all the relevant facts about the Instant Checkmate website that apply to this consumer's complaint that I gathered from my research. If one recalls the information presented above and on the Instant Checkmate website, a trial membership renews automatically until cancelled. The consumer makes the claim that she cancelled. Unfortunately there is no way to test that claim so we must take it at face value. If the customer did indeed attempt to cancel in May of last year, she should have noted the charges on her statement for the following months. She did not for a full year. Had she done her due diligence she would have noticed the charge the following month in June and should have contacted her financial institution for recourse. The financial institution would have helped to cancel the account with Instant Checkmate, offered to block future charges, and even offered to dispute the charges that occurred after the date she claims to have cancelled on. I know that does not seems very fair, given that she might have indeed contacted the merchant to cancel, but please recall that the consumer is 100% responsible for reviewing their statements for inaccurracies and for reporting them to their financial institution for recourse as soon as they notice them in order to avoid liability.

Complaint 4
"I called today and gave them this information and they would only refund me for 3 months for a total of $88.88"

According to Regulation E of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act which is the law that governs these transactions, a consumer is liable for any unauthorized charges that occured more than 60 days before they notify their financial institution. In other words, if the consumer were to seek recourse through a merchant or her financial institution, the most she is legally entitled to get back is two month's worth of charges. That would be 2 * $29.63 in this case. Or $59.26. The merchant in this case refunded her 3 monthly charges of $29.63, or $88.89. That is more than the amount she is entitled to under the law.

Had the customer read what she was agreeing to and signing up for, she would have known that the membership is recurring in nature and cancelled appropriately. Furthermore, had the consumer been more vigilant of her statement and contacted her financial institution as soon as she noticed that she was still being billed, this would have been a non-issue. It is my opinion, regarding all the facts that are evident and the consumer's claims, that Instant Checkmate acted within the law and provided the customer with more than adequate recourse given the requirements of law.

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