Just spent an hour trying to get a fraudulent site (creditreport.com, freecreditreport.com, consumerinfo.com, and thousands of others) to stop charging my credit card. They have been billing me since September of last year and despite disputing the charges before, they keep doing a recurring charge. They wanted the following in order for me to “cancel” my account:
- my name
- the credit card number charged
- my birth date
- the last four digits of my social security number
- e-mail address
- my full name
- my mother’s maiden name
Notice how all of this information is just what they need to do? Each step they asked for more information. So just when you think that they’re about to close the account, they’ll claim that they need the next piece of information. The impasse started at my birth date, and over the hour I figured that even if I gave that, they’d request the rest anyway. I even offered to validate the account by requesting they send a token to this mythical e-mail address they claimed I used when signed up for an account on their website as—to which they told me their validation process didn’t work that way. You know, the way every-other-site-on-the-internet-handles lost or stolen passwords?
They shouldn’t need any information to close the account other than the credit card number (which they already have and are charging). The rest of it is going into some database somewhere so they can continue to charge you at a later date if you change your credit card number. Obviously dealing them is a waste, so when your credit card company or bank recommend you call the number on the charge, do not do this. (For the record, I have never requested a credit report in my life until March of this year, so this wasn’t me. My guess is one of their merchant affiliates (of which they have many: Quicken, Yahoo. etc.) sent them my information via opt-in during a routine purchase like purchasing movie tickets or something.
How to deal with the charge
If the charge is through the bank, dealing with this is hard. Mine was through the credit card, so I issued a dispute.
Do not dispute this online because if you do, you will only get a chargeback once. This will not stop them from doing it again next month or get you money back for previous months. Instead call the credit card and have them dispute the charge as far back as your company is willing to go. The lady at American Express had the exact same thing happen to her, because this is common.
Then have them issue a stop on that merchant. This way you won’t have to call them every month. They will then tell you to call the merchant to inform them, but do not do this. Assuming you find the cancellation number, you can search the internet for proof that the company keeps changing their cancellation policy. Then file a complaint with the FTC.
You are not done yet.
ConsumerInfo.com will change their address every year or so and try to issue charges through the new “merchant.” Since they are a subsidiary of one of the credit ratings agencies, it costs them nothing to do a credit check through that agency and changing your credit card number seems to have proven fruitless to others.
Instead, monitor your credit card statements from now until you die and repeat the process as necessary. Remember this company has been sued continuously for the last decade or so and the only thing to come out of it was the FTC forced them to create AnnualCreditReport.com and they switched from a yearly $79.95 to a monthly $14.95 or 19.95 charge—they were not driven out of business because they exploit a loophole in the law and created by one of the big three credit agencies. Remember, the last successful suit resulted in the CARD act passed in 2009 requiring them to disclose that they aren’t free on their website, all they did was “persuade” (pay) merchants to send their customer’s credit card information to them during the checkout process so you never see the disclosure! So even people like you or me who assiduously avoid these scam sites now get caught in the scam. Even when they get successfully sued again (which will happen), they’ll just bury in a different loophole in that law and continue on their merry fraudulent ways. Unless you see Experian declaring bankruptcy, this will continue indefinitely.
Experian should be outlawed
This article was illuminating. It points out that ConsumerInfo.com (nee CreditReport.com nee FreeCreditReport.com) is a subsidiary of Experian (one of the “big three” credit card companies). It also points out that the three credit reports were aggregated by a separate company called FICO which creats a score based on them. Experian pulled their information from FICO score in February 2009 because FICO started to make their score available on myFICO.com—a competitive service to their perenially-sued, heavily-advertised, always-evil FreeCreditReport.com.
This certainly shows that clearly nobody should be doing business with Experian. Even if you go get an FTC-authorized annual credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com, if given the option, don’t bother with the Experian report. Look at it this way, every credit agency uses your FICO score, Experian is no longer part of that score since they pulled their data out. Lenders going forward are going to stop using Experian because nobody uses the Vantage scoring system. Therefore, there is no need for your Experian report.
Political side note:
The fact that these companies can even operate a business model for two decades premised on a clear case of consumer fraud with only legal fig-leaf changes is astounding. But given the [behavior of one party](http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/23/opinion/23nocera.html?_r=1&hp “The Travails of Ms. Warren”] and the sidelines mentality of the other, I’m not surprised.
Apparently our politicians have forgotten who their constituents are.