The BBB was recently contacted when a local resident reported a $9 charge on her credit card for a service she didn't recognize. After doing some research she discovered that she had been charged $9 each month for the past 3 years, for a membership in a buyer's club to which she did not recollect ever agreeing to participate in.
In this particular buyers club the monthly membership fee covered discounts to restaurants, stores, attractions and movie theatres. At no time in the past did the victim remember signing up for the buyers club. She had never in her memory taken advantage of a discount as a member of the buyers club and she had received no information about the discount opportunities over the past 3 years.
Based on reports from other victims, it appears people are unsuspectingly signing up for long-term membership in a buyers club when they take advantage of a discount or cash a coupon- typically as they make a purchase online. Victims seem to have automatically accepted the "terms and conditions" of a discount opportunity without really understanding what they've agreed to.
How to Protect Yourself
Review Your Statements: The best protection against scams like this one is to review your credit card and bank statements carefully each month. If you see a charge for something you don't recognize or that is unfamiliar, contact your credit card provider, get the contact information for the company that gave you the charge and contact them immediately to discuss your cancellations options.
Read the Fine Print: Carefully, carefully read the fine print when using any online programs or services (especially if they include discounts or coupons). Never just accept the terms of agreement without reading them carefully.
Use Caution: Sometimes by entering a draw you are also agreeing to sign up for a membership of some sort that may be of no value to you. Carefully read the fine print, and take care in how much personal and banking information you give out when entering a draw.
Do Your Research: If you do choose to sign up for a buyer's club, make sure you do some research to make sure the discounts being offered are actually ones you would use. Also do a quick calculation to make sure the monthly fee or membership fee doesn't end up costing you more than you could ever get in actual discounts.
For more information and live weekly updates on frauds affecting Vancouver Island visit the News Centre at vi.bbb.org; fraudcast.ca; twitter.com/VIBBB; facebook.com; linkedin.com.