Scam Charges on Your Credit Card and Cell Phone

A couple of weeks ago, Joann and I were working in the office together and I was going through some credit card statements for year-end accounting. One of the statements was for a Bank of America credit card and I noticed a monthly charge for $12.00 that I had seen before that I assumed was something Joann had signed up for at one time. So, I asked her what it was for.

She didn't know and had never signed up for it. I knew that I hadn't signed up and the only thing the statement told me is that it was for something called Reservation Rewards owned by a company by the name of WebLoyalty. So, we called Bank of America where we found out that we had been getting billed for this for over a year and that we "must have authorized it at some time," according to the B of A rep. We assured her that was not the case whereupon she very quickly said that she could refund 6 months but we would have to talk to the actual company to get a full refund.

At that point I knew something wasn't right and I knew Bank of America also knew it since they were amazingly quick to offer a 6 month refund. I Googled the company and sure enough there were plenty of complaints and warnings including one from the Attorney General of Connecticut. It seems that thousands of people and companies have complained about WebLoyalty.

The way it works, according to this article, is once you have used a site like Expedia, Fandango or PriceLine you are directed to other windows and pop-ups where if you're not paying close attention it is easy to say "no" to an offer and have it actually mean "yes." Then your credit card information is used by Reservation Rewards until you notice it and cancel.

Here is a link to another site that tells you how to get your money back if you find you've been paying for this service and never subscribed. And, Consumer Reports has an article on the company.

If you think you're too savvy to have this happen to you then think again. There are lots of comments about this company from people who are very aware of traps like this online and still got caught. One of them was a computer programmer and intellectual property attorney. In our case it was almost surely me that got caught as I'm the one who used Expedia quite a bit and they are one of the companies tied to WebLoyalty.

By the way, Bank of America sent us a letter a month later saying WebLoyalty provided proof that they had an imprint of our credit card or we had presented the card at the time of service. Neither of these are even physically possible so we called the bank. The rep did a tap dance and said that what the letter said isn't what they meant and that WebLoyalty had only provided B of A with a copy of their charge slip. There was no signature or authorization from us. We're not done with B of A yet and their letter that "isn't what we meant."

The end-of-the-year is a good time to take a close look at your statements. While you're at it you might want to look for the same kind of $10 or less charge on your cell phone statement. The same kind of scams are being played out there and the cell phone companies (just like the banks) are complicit in helping scam millions of dollars from consumers and business.

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