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Check statements for small, unexplained charges

by Diana Zoga

KMOV.com

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 10:21 PM

(KMOV) -- A Facebook friend recently posted a notice, telling everyone to check their statements for charges from "Reservation Rewards".  He explained that he'd somehow enrolled in a monthly rewards program that he didn't intend to sign up for.  He said the small, monthly charge went unnoticed for three years - racking up hundreds in charges.

"Virtually everyday we hear from consumers who have found themselves in a situation where they have unwittingly subscribed to some sort of program that's going to cause recurring charges or didn't understand that's what they were going to do," said Chris Thetford with the Better Business Bureau in St. Louis.

Customers are usually signed up when they're purchasing something on-line.  The customer may be offered another product or service from a third party. 

New York's Attorney General sued saying the tactic caused customers to unknowingly sign up.

A federal law called  Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act bans the practice of "data passing" , when a company passes a customer's credit card information onto a third party.  The law mandates that the third party clearly disclose that it is offering a separate product or service.

The change was prompted by a 2009 U.S. Senate Committee report that mentioned three on-line marketing companies called Affinion, Vertrue, and Webloyalty.  commerce.senate.gov/public/

Webloyalty, the on-line marketing company behind the "Reservation Rewards" charges explained that it changed its tactics more than two years ago.  Now, customers are routed to a separate site in order to enter their credit card information separately.  Customers are prompted to confirm they understand terms of the membership.  The company says it also now sends an email and regular mail notifications.

What if you're just noticing older charges that you suspect were a result of data passing?

"It's going to be much more difficult.  What you could do is file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  At that point, we could try and get that resolved for you," said Thetford.

He also says to check your statements, line-by-line, and contact your credit card company about any questionable charges.

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