Watch Your Credit Card and Bank Statements for Unexpected Charges

April 16, 2009

“Who are these people?”  This was the subject line on an e-mail received by the Better Business Bureau earlier this week. 

The local consumer went on to say:

 “My wife and I just discovered that for the past year and a half two businesses have been taking money out of our checking account without our knowing it. They are Todaysescapes+ (800-798-0664)and Privacymatters (800-436-0817)… Do you know anything about these people? What did I do to cause this to happen? Are they connected to other businesses that may have access to my computer?”

It turns out that the Better Business Bureau is well aware who “these people” are.  It is a company called Vertrue, Inc., located in Omaha, Nebraska. This company has been the subject of 2544 complaints to the Better Business Bureau over the past 36 months.  Most of these complaints came about after a consumer discovered that their credit card or bank account had been charged a monthly or annual fee by a service called TodaysEscapes, or Privacy Matters, or PMIdentity, or Your Savings Club, or Credit Diagnosis, or 24ProtectPlus, or VS ESCAPES..or any number of other names.

In most cases, the consumer feels that the charges were never authorized.  But in most cases, the charges were inadvertently agreed to by the consumer in accepting a “free trial membership” which was being promoted by a company the consumer did business with.  Typically, these offers appear on your screen as part of the order confirmation following an on-line purchase, and may say something like, “Click here to get a $10 credit toward your next purchase.”  If you “Click here” and don’t read the fine print, you may well have agreed to order a membership being sold by Vertrue, Inc. 

BBB offers two key pieces of advice:

  • Read "the fine print" on any offer for anything that's free.  There's often a catch behind the offer.
  • Watch your bank account and credit card statements carefully, every month, or you may find a year and a half later that your account has been repeatedly charged for service that you never realized you had purchased.

If you are considering doing businees with a company or donating to charity you don't know a lot about, check out the company at  You might find that you are considering a great company or charity.  Or, you might save yourself a lot of headaches.  BBB reports are offered as a community service.  The more information you have, the better decisions you can make.