Automatic Credit Card Payments; Ripe For Abuse



button_autoPAY
Image courtesy of www.cowlitzpud.org

We hear about it everyday, someone has his or her credit card hacked and in an instant that persons hard earned cash is whisked away to some unknown location never to be seen again. We are warned about being aware of your surroundings when we use our credit cards at malls, department stores, and fast food joints, yet after all these warnings, we throw caution to the wind when we succumb to the almighty infomercials that pitch their wares on the all night television stage where the pidgeons are a dime a dozen.

What makes falling for these televised scams risky is that most of them know just how to make you take your credit card out and turn your number over to them  and they in turn turn it into the gift that keeps on giving….to them.  Auto billing credit cards seems to be silently making its way into your finances and what makes it so notorious is the fact that you agree to it nine times out of ten when you send away for that free item with you only paying for the shipping and handling for the first one. If it’s a health supplement that requires you to purchase a bottle every thirty days or so, they will automatically refill your order and bill your credit card like clockwork. While most of us buy things online all the time, it’s mostly a solitary item, pick it, pay for it, and the transaction is complete. The sites are usually secure and if we have a problem with the item, we just return it and our money is refunded back to our credit cards. But if you purchase any service that has to be done every month or so, most companies want to be able to charge your card automatically every month. Companies call it a convenience to you but what it really is is a way for them to have an incoming, never ending, uninterupted  cash flow.

I myself was quite privileged to be a victim myself of what I call flim-flam 2.O. Watching a late night infomercial for a particular health supplement, one which I shall not disclose at this time, it seemed to have all the answers to the health questions I was asking myself. And the gift of the free bottle less shipping and handling was a clincher. While filling out the order form online I failed to read the disclaimer which stated that your order will be automatically renewed every month until the end of time whether you want the product or not and we will bill your credit card every month whether you have the money or not. If there is one thing that needs some attention in order to protect the consumer is the size of the print in the disclaimer, in print and on television. Since I was dissatisfied with the results of the product, and not wanting my credit card charged every month I proceeded to void the whole transaction which just about took an act of God. Lesson learned, get out the magnifying glass and always read the disclaimer. They show you the disclaimer on television commercials, but there is no way you can read it in the 2 seconds they give you.

This auto billing trend is becoming a common practice, one which basically puts your credit card information in the hands of strangers  My advise is not to agree to auto billing, and if a company says that is the way they do business, then I would decline their generous offers of free products because in my experiences, there is nothing free, and if you deal with a bad company who has your credit card number you may wind up paying a whole lot for a little of nothing.