Have you ever been on the fence about purchasing a product online, wrestling with yourself and trying to justify it? Sure, we all have at one time or another.
At one point, you may have convinced yourself that you were ready to buy, so you entered your credit card information into the appropriate boxes on the checkout screen. However, before pressing the “Complete Order” button, you had some second thoughts and decided not to go through with it after all. Imagine how surprised you’d be when you checked your credit card statement a few days later, only to see that the company went ahead and charged you anyway. You’d probably be furious, right? For sure.
Over the past several weeks, HighYa has received an increasing number of complaints related to this underhanded practice—one that is specifically designed to steal your hard-earned money. In fact, one HighYa reader claimed that they contacted the company’s customer service department, only to be informed that’s how the “system is set up.” Because of this, we decided that it’s a good time to outline a couple practical, real-world tips you can use to avoid the problem in the first place.
Tip #1: Don’t Enter Your Credit Card Information Unless You’re Ready to Buy
Seems like a no-brainer, right? Sure, when you’re detached from the situation, this is definitely commonsense advice. However, as we’ve mentioned several times in the past, less-than-reputable companies use carefully orchestrated marketing tactics to make you purchase something based almost solely on emotion. In other words, they want to make you think as little as possible, and to mindlessly pull out your wallet.
But we might be getting ahead of ourselves: To begin with, how can you tell the difference between a legitimate company, and one that’s out to charge you for their product at all costs? For the most part, it’s all in how they present themselves.
Tip #2: Avoid Purchasing Products That Use the Following Advertising Tactics:
While it’s far from a complete list, credit card scams like these are most prevalent among nutritional supplements, beauty/anti-aging regimens, and “As Seen on TV” products. While they all vary slightly in approach, a company might be more concerned about your money than you if they engage in one (or both) of the following tactics:
Big claims, little evidence – While the over-the-top advertising used by “As Seen on TV” manufacturers is easily identifiable (so much so that it’s almost become part of American popular culture), it’s not necessarily the same case with beauty products and nutritional supplements. This is because these types of products often include technical jargon, pseudoscientific “evidence,” and even fake celebrity endorsements as part of their marketing strategy. For a complete overview of what to look for when purchasing your next nutritional supplement, click here.
Free trials – If you’re on the fence about one of the products above, a tactic that has been shown to be very effective is to offer free trials. In other words, companies make it seem like you can try their product risk-free, paying only the cost of shipping. However, your trial often begins the day you place you order, and the refund process is often extraordinarily difficult. In short, avoid online products that are offered only as a “free” trial.
What Can You Do If You’ve Fallen Victim to This Credit Card Scam?
If you find one of these unauthorized charges on your credit card, the first thing you should do is contact the manufacturer and request an immediate refund. If the company is unwilling to take responsibility for their actions, then the next step may be to dispute the charges directly with your credit card company.
According to the National Consumer Law Center, this type of fraudulent activity could be classified under “I did not authorize this charge,” or “I canceled the contract with the seller before work was performed,” when filing your complaint. For a detailed overview of the process, be sure to read the FTC’s Disputing Credit Card Charges page.
Have you recently fallen victim to this type of credit card fraud, or something very similar? Share your story by leaving a comment.