So I’m looking over my Discover bill, and I see this:
01/29/05 CIC*CREDIT MONITORING 800-220-2626 CA, $79.95
Huh. I don’t know anything about CIC Credit Monitoring, so I give a quick search for the company and the phone number on the Internet, to see if this was somehow related to something I had purchase. Luckily, the Internet has heard of these guys, and there are plenty of other complaints all over the place. In fact, just on Rip-off Report.com, there are, as of today, some 1236 complaints against these folks.
So I called up the number; what do I have to lose? They ask for my CC#, and all sorts of personal information, but being that they’re already charging my credit card … and that they’re associated with Experian (more on this soon), they already have this information. They tell me this is my annual renewal membership fee, which is funny, being that I never signed up for this in the first place. They tell me I signed up for this in January of 2004, and they were just billing me for another year.
That’s funny, I have statements going back to January of 2004, and I tend to read over them pretty with a fine-toothed comb, and I tend to read my online transactions to keep an eye on things before the statements arrive. So I pulled up my December, February, and January statements from early 2004 and late 2003, and lo and behold, there are no charges from CIC*Credit Monitoring back then. I ask them what proof they have that I signed up for this membership. I know I’ve been pitched memberships like this on several occasions, from Discover as well as outside agencies, but I sure as hell have not signed up for it. They say they have no proof, but only I could have signed up for this service; it would not be possible for them to sign me up, or anybody else to. It’s apparent that she’s heard this all before, and has some textbook responses to provide. She probably tells 87 pissed-off consumers the exact same crap every single day.
If you could just provide me with a single piece of evidence that I ever signed up for this … say a physical document, phone transcript, or even a digital record of my transaction online that initiated this membership, I could at least acknowledge that somehow I had signed up for this service. That they were so prepared to cancel my membership and reverse my charge was evidence in and of itself of how shady this place is. So I hear the “your call is important” message and notice that they’re telling me about Experian.
These fucks are associated with Experian. I knew the credit reporting agencies were criminals, now I have proof.
Yes, I did order an Experian credit report back in the day, to protect me from scammers like this. I was very careful in un-checking any boxes that signed me up for extra services, monitoring, credit scores, or anything else beyond the basic credit report. I even paid careful attention to goofy stuff that was worded like “by checking here and spinning around seven times and calling our toll-free number and walking your dog to the park and inverting your nipples and making a paper airplane out of your credit report, you agree to not sign up for services potentially unless otherwise indicated in this form; in all other circumstances you may be charged for additional services at our discretion, or just for the fuck of it” to make sure I didn’t sign up for anything extra or commit to anything special.
Anyhow, after confirming that they would reverse the charge in 7-10 business days, I asked her why I shouldn’t go to the better business bureau, and on and on, and she just said “good bye sir” and hung up. Shocker. Normal customer service jobs can’t be any fun, but doing customer service for a credit company that repeatedly fucks people has got to be a real treat. Their instructions are probably that “the consumer is going to be angry and going to want action, and we cannot provide it, so the best thing we can do is to get them off the phone as fast as possible. Use whatever means necessary.”
In any event, they agreed to reverse the charge, and cancel my membership, but I didn’t trust that much, so I called Discover, and disputed the charge, and they’ve put through a temporary reversal and an inquiry to CIC. The lady at Discover said “do you make lots of purchases online?” “Yes.” “That can do it; they tend to just show up for people that shop online without people ever booking anything.” Great, so much for “the Internet is a safe place to buy shit.” It was apparent she’d heard of these jokers before.
So, it may not even have had anything to do with ordering a credit report with Experian; it could well have come in with the purchase of an espresso cup, or some airfare, or a gift, or some tea. Either way, I urge you all to boycott Experian, and consider one of the other credit agencies, because of their connection with this unethical company. That said, I don’t know what I can recommend, since every credit agency tends to be slimy, inconvenient, and problematic. The new systems set up allowing free credit reports once a year nationwide will surely cause even more consumers to get screwed by these folks, and I would be willing to bet the other big two agencies are in on these sorts of schemes.
There have been several small mistakes made in charging me double for items, meals, or things like that on my credit card in the last year, and all have been resolved, yet CIC Credit Monitoring, a firm that I apparently had hired to monitor my credit, transactions, and so forth, keeping an eye out for things fraudulent and suspicious, never called, emailed, mailed, or tried to contact me in any other fashion. That’s a pretty lousy service I didn’t sign up for for $80 a year. It’s sad that a company that sells a service that monitors for fraudulent credit activity is themselves a fraudulent activity, going out and screwing people the world over, with a convincing-sounding charge that most consumers will overlook. Screw social security; why don’t we try to fix the credit system in the United States instead?
Update: I received the following email from them after calling to cancel, from firstname.lastname@example.org:
Weâ€™re sorry to see you go! We have received your request to cancel your CreditCheckÂ® Monitoring Service membership. We are in the process of fulfilling your request.
If you are canceling within your free, 30-day trial period, your credit card will NOT be charged. If you are canceling within the first six months of your membership, you will receive a prorated credit to your account within seven to ten business days. The credit should appear on your next credit card billing statement.
We hope you enjoyed your CreditCheck benefits, including unlimited credit reports, and the protection of daily credit monitoring with email alerts. Even though the service may not have been right for you, please remember that we offer an array of instant credit reports, from single credit reports and PLUS Scores, to our all-inclusive 3 Bureau Online Credit Report.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve your credit needs. We look forward to helping you again in the future. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at email@example.com. Or, visit us anytime at http://qspace.iplace.com/cobrands/647/login_form.asp!
ConsumerInfo.com Customer Care
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So let’s see, we’ve got email from rsc02.com, sent via om-consumerinfo.rgc3.net, recommending I send email to consumerinfo.com or visit them at qspace.iplace.com… Nah, I’m sure they’re a reputable responsible honest company, with nothing to hide and no deceptive practices. I sure had enjoyed my daily credit check emails (never received a thing in my last year of “membership”), my free credit reports (where?) and all of the other great benefits this company can provide. Thank you, may I have another?