Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Slimy But Legal

For those of you who do a lot of online shopping, I wanted to pass along some info about a scam Steve and I were recently exposed to. Steve was hit on his corporate credit card after he purchased airline tickets from Expedia. When the transaction was done, he signed up for what he thought was a rebate/points thing with Expedia. As it turns out, it was actually a membership with some company called, or sometimes referred to as (there are also a few more names he found online).

This company charged Steve's credit card $10 last month--WITHOUT him directly typing his credit card number into a sign-up form at all. Instead, they sucked his information from Expedia's website. From what he found out, this practice is well known by Expedia (and many other reputable websites like,, etc.) and is totally legal. It's wrong for sure, but it seems they use some sort of loophole that we don't really understand. How do these people sleep at night?

The point is (hopefully you already do these things, but here's a reminder!), check your credit card statements each month, confer with your spouse about any transactions you don't recognize, and refute any charges that you don't think you made. Thankfully Steve caught this after only one charge. But in 2004, this company made $86 million from this practice, so it's gotten a lot of unsuspecting people.

For more information, you can check out the article "Reservation Rewards--And Rebate Risks" from Consumer Reports Webwatch. Pass the word to people you know who make online purchases--even the savvy buyers. The article was written by a "seasoned veteran" who said, "If they got me, they can get anyone. I never get caught in these traps." Some people have paid these charges (the fees are small, so apparently they're easier to overlook) for over a year before noticing them. At that point, it's hard to get your money back.

UPDATE 8/6/07: See this post for a response from the company.


Anonymous said...

This happened to me too. Weirder, it was my husband on the Fandango website and they charged my credit card.

We have different last names and haven't gotten a joint checking account yet, so I was very upset.

Anonymous said...

Reservation Rewards has scammed me twice on two diffrent credit cards. One card I had to cancel but I did get numerous $10 charges reversed. If there is not law against their type of fraud I suggest this. With a little hunting you can find the name of the president and customer service director. Verify you have the right people with the right company. Put them in a long care nursing home by any means possible.