How’s this for irony? Spent the past 2 hours on the phone trying to track down the origination of an almost-authorized charge to my second checking account, USAA, which has a Visa Debit Card attached to it, for $119.
For a supposed “Identity Secure” service. (my hindside..)
They tried to charge me thirty-four (34) separate times.
After being given the run-around, being transferred from this person, to that person, all very friendly people who had no stinkin’ CLUE who I was, where I was, or ANYTHING, I finally, FINALLY get a hold of one person who finds me in their system.
At this address.
I’ve only lived here since mid-July. The attempted charges started June 24th. This guy says I’ve had my so-called “account” since February, and this is the address they’ve always had for me. How? Is this a mind-reading identity securing company or something? “We predict your card will be fradulently charged on this day.” They can’t be serious. How the heck? My mind boggles…
And it gets even creepier.
They say that this began as the result of a ‘check offer’. I have done those, yes. A ‘check offer’ is where a company mails you information about something they would like for you to consider joining. A membership of sorts. Enclosed in their information they’ve sent is a printed check for you to cash, right then and there, for a certain amount ($9.25 in this case). Once cashed, you’ve agreed to try their membership, and have 30 days upon receipt of your materials to cancel. Have you ever heard of these before? I have, and have done this 3 times previously, and only 3 times, with companies I was actually interested in checking out – one that dealt with discounts on prescriptions (for my parents, actually, thought I could transfer); one regarding discount shopping with work out equipment and such (like bowflex), and the last I can’t recall. They swear it was their company. Could be, but I don’t think so. Nonetheless, they tell me that I have been involved with them, and cancelled. But that it’s my second account I didn’t cancel. Wait, what?
Let’s back it up here for a second. Not only do I not know their company at all, I supposedly signed up with them TWICE? What? What company who wants to turn a profit will send out a check to someone for $9.25, for them to look at their materials, to have said person cancel said service within the 30 days, only to turn around and re-issue another check for them to check out the very same service they already canceled once before?
The representative’s response to that question? “We do it all the time! They are sent out completely randomly.”
Oh really? How are they not bankrupt? Sending the same person the same checks to evaluate the same service they already declined once, I’d say keep sending them to me, I’ll make $9.25 off of them all day long! I mean, really – sending it to random people without test markets to see if it would even be something they’d be interested in… how are they successful?
Oh, OH! I get it.
Gain access about that person, through their deposit, so you can access information like their bankcard, address, SSN, and then try to solicit money from their other bank account, to the tune of $119, until you eventually squeeze it out of them after 30-something attempts.
Ah, I see. Got it now. They’re thieves AND mind-readers.
I’m still reeling here, people. I don’t recall this company, let alone depositing their checks once let alone ‘twice’, let alone… how did they even gain access to my credit card information in the first place, when that wasn’t even the bank account the check was deposited to? You don’t deposit checks into credit cards. There’s no way I gave them that info…
As I said, creepy. Seriously creepy.
So, a word of caution:
- As tempting as it may be to get a few bucks free for evaluating a plan you might have use for, do homework before you deposit that check. You never know what else you might be setting yourself up for.
- Monitor your accounts. You never know who else is, too.
- Find a bank like USAA and open a checking account with a free credit card linked to it. Use it wisely, as we do. No one will ever have access to any of our money or account because the only time we ever have money in it is the split second before we’re about to use it. For example, sitting in a restaurant, waitress brings the bill for $48. We call USAA right there, transfer in $50, she charges our card. (Now I know, there is a 48-72 hour hold with that money ‘held’ on the side, for which the company will have to submit their charge, but that’s a fairly small window.) Also, USAA will not over withdraw, if there isn’t money in the account, it will not go through, thankfully. They will also issue a temporary refund while awaiting the credit to go through in the amount of an unauthorized charge where I need the money right away. That’s pretty huge. Investigate if your bank will do that, that’s huge peace of mind right there. HUGE.
I’m sure there’s more, but I can barely think straight after trying to make sense of this.
Overall? I’m totally freaked, still. I will be paying even closer attention to my accounts, ALL of them, from now on. And in the meantime, no more ‘check offers’ ever. Especially from those companies claiming they will “secure” my “identity”.
Hugest line of BS ever.
That is, unless it’s a chocolate company, or something, I might reconsider my ‘say no’ rule…