Consumers calling legitimate companies for a variety of reasons are having their calls hijacked and their bank accounts hit by unauthorized credit card charges.
As an example of what consumers may experience, a South Carolina consumer called the number given for warranty information on a Sally Hansen product she’d bought. Her call was answered not by a Sally Hansen representative
but by Assist 123, who had intercepted it. Assist 123 first asked her what company she was trying to reach and then told her that that company was having
trouble with their customer service line. Because of that trouble, they wanted to give her a $100 rebate she could use at a variety of well-known stores. They asked for her contact information and a credit card number to charge her $3.95 for shipping of
her rebate and for access to their “information service” number, which they compared to 411.
This consumer refused to give her credit card number and insisted she only wanted to reach the company regarding the warranty. She was given another toll-free number, but when she called, she was again asked what number she was calling. She was never able
to reach the Sally Hansen company.
Other consumers report that whoever answers their call claims to be with the company called and goes on to offer the same promotion, sometimes saying they’ll address the consumer’s
reason for the call later.
Some callers, believing they’re talking with the company they called and knowing it to be legitimate, accept the information service offer and authorize the charge. But one consumer who did says that her bank account was then charged a total of $70 by three
Most, if not all, who accept, though, don’t realize that by giving credit or debit card information they’re agreeing to a month’s trial of Assist 123’s information service and that if they don’t cancel within the time allowed after the trial period, they
will be automatically charged $9.99 each month.
Most callers also don’t realize that their calls are being intercepted. Though there are a number of ways this interception can be accomplished, what consumers should know is that it can be done and that it may be difficult to detect whether it has been
done. Callers can call almost any type of company--pharmacy, insurance company, and even government agencies--and still have their calls intercepted and be offered the rebate.
Nor do callers realize that the rebate offer is not the gift card they believed it to be, but another card by which they can get back small percentages of some future purchases.
Because it’s likely that Assist 123 will be the subject of increasing complaints, consumers should be on guard if their call results in an unexpected and attractive offer similar to this company’s.