Has your Credit Card been Snagged by Deceptive Web Marketing?

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Are you one of the countless consumers who have been snagged by deceptive web marketing practices? If you are, then you should be relieved to hear that the Senate is finally taking a closer look and considering strategies to watch some of these practices and the companies who are responsible for them more closely. The marketing ploy currently under fire is a sneaky little strategy designed to trick consumers into giving up their credit card info as well as some of their money.

The particular web marketing practice currently under scrutiny is referred to as post-transaction marketing. It is a very aggressive form of marketing that targets American consumers in a sneaky way and has them emptying out a bit more of their pockets than they would like. You have probably seen examples of this even if you haven't fallen victim to it, or maybe, you know someone who has been caught up in this web of deceit.

One of the primary problems with this type of insidious marketing is that many consumers are tricked into thinking it is part of their purchasing transaction. Everyone loves to save money and these offers appear innocent enough, enticing consumers into signing up without even knowing what they are signing up for beyond the $10.00 savings or whatever offer is presented.

If this is such an insidious practice, how does it look so innocent to the consumers who are snagged by it? In the first place, the offer to obtain some benefit such as cash back rewards or discounted prices pops up during the check out procedure. This makes the offer look like it is part of the transaction rather than the independent transaction that it really is.

In the second place, no visible sign of future monthly fees appears with the offer. The consumer has no idea that clicking that "Yes" or "Continue" button is affirmation that she wants to join this "special" club membership and pay the monthly fees (typically $10.00 to $20.00 a month,) when all she wants to do is receive discounts or cash back.

In the third place, no new information is requested during this transaction, continuing the illusion that it is all part of the checkout process. In fact, this is where the next sneaky part of this practice comes into play. The marketing companies simply complete a data pass and take your credit card information (or debit card) from the original Web company that you are making your purchase with. Does this seem right to you? Another company obtaining your personal credit card or debit card information without your permission? Oops, that's right; you gave your permission to them when you clicked that little button labeled "Yes" or "Continue."

It happens more often than some people realize. In fact, consumers who fail to monitor their credit card bills might not even notice that extra little charge. In fact, even if they do notice it, quite often, they aren't even going to know what it is for or how it got there unless they pursue the mysterious reference on the bill. To do so, consumers have two options: call the number directly or call their credit card company for more information. At this point, the consumers' primary recourse is to demand a refund and wait for it to appear on their credit card account. What a hassle for someone who didn't even want to join a club with a membership fee.

According to TechCrunch.com the three Internet companies in question are Vertrue, Webloyalty, and Affinion. These three companies have earned over $1.4 billion in revenue from 35 million transactions and four million people are currently enrolled in the plans. While these marketing companies appear to be blamed for such cloak and dagger strategies, the companies they are affiliated with should take part of the blame. After all, they know what is happening and they signed on for knowing it appears to trick consumers into offering up their money to them. The companies are reputable retailers that many consumers are familiar with, creating a greater likelihood that the consumers are going to click that button.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee took a long, hard look at these deceptive marketing tactics on Tuesday, November 17th as it reviewed an investigative report spanning a six-month investigation. Witnesses took the stand to clarify the strategies employed in these practices as well as to indicate the detrimental effect they have had on their lives. The current chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, is pursuing additional information. Deceptive Web marketing practices bleed the financial accounts of consumers who have unwittingly signed the proverbial dotted line to join yet another special club with benefits. With thousands of consumer complaints pouring in, it's obvious that greater industry oversight is required.

Watch below video to see how consumers get snagged; 

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1 Comment

There are lot of deceptive credit card marketing. One of them is http://www.mewithoutdebt.com/2010/02/credit-cards-and-asterisk.html

Sad to say that I fell for that.

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