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Are you protecting yourself online?

A detailed account of a Fastlane process...

Nicoknowsbest

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Mar 31, 2014
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I have been using LinkedIn for the last two months as a lead gen tool and one day, I stumbled upon a paid service. It offered to automate lead gen for you on LinkedIn by helping you define and find your ideal customers, engage with them and send out human inspired personal messages.

While I usually ignore the testimonials, what got me hooked on this was the following offer:

"Sign up, try your first week for $1. After that, it's just $149 a month."

Mix in their money back guarantee, and the deal was sealed:

"If at any point in the first 30 days you don’t absolutely love [service XYZ], we’ll not only give you a full refund, but we’ll send you $20 for wasting your time."

I filled in my data, connected my company credit card and signed up. Soon after, I got a welcome email and a bit after that, somebody pings me on Facebook, saying he was my account rep, helping me to get started.

I found it unusual to be communicating on Facebook, but what the hell, let's do it - his profile looked legit, he sent me voice messages that were legit, so yeah.

I was hungry for them leads.

And that caused me trouble.

After the initial setup was complete - I gave him access to my profile, told him what I offered as a service and who I'd want to target as my ideal client.

Starting from this, my connections were growing day by day and quite some people started replying to my messages.

3 weeks into the game, I had 0 results and pinged my "account rep" on Facebook, saying that I'd like to end my trial and get my money back.

His answer: "Don't worry, I'll prolong it indefinitely for you. We'll make this work together."

What followed was a bit of a strategic change, but the results wouldn't come.

I was busy with client work the last week and forgot about it. This morning, I get a SMS message on my phone that they just charged my credit card with another $149.

I ping my guy immediately, requesting a refund of $298 as well as to close all contracts. Which contracts by the way? I searched my email and didn't find a single agreement. I went to their website and couldn't find a way to log into my customer profile or end my contract. I checked their "Terms of Service" link, which is not existing.

Now I get a bit nervous and call my bank.

I wanted to cancel the billing on my credit card, which is not possible. I wanted to lock this company out of my credit card, which is not possible.

After making it clear on Facebook and sending an email to their official email address, I am left with a bad taste in my mouth. A company I don't trust has access to my company credit card that has a limit which could hurt me and my business, and I am only left with the option to lock my entire credit card, which my bank advised me not to do.

Now, apart from the fact that this can be regarded as naive behavior on my part, this got me thinking.

What will I do in the future to avoid experiences like this?

What will I do to protect me, my company and my money online?

What are you guys doing in such situations?

How do you protect yourself?
 
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JAJT

Ha Ha! Business
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I'm genuinely surprised they can't flag the charger as fraud and decline future payments.

They can certainly "charge back" the charges though, or they should be able to, which will not only get your money back but hurt whoever charged it (there's a strict limit on chargebacks for credit cards and could get an entire business blacklisted from that processor).

Although usually the best thing to do is just report the card as stolen and get a new one sent - that should solve the problem immediately, no?

Personally I consider using credit cards to "be" a lot of the protection I use. Credit cards and card companies (and banks) are usually extremely helpful making sure nothing screwy happens, and fixing it when it does. Cards typically offer more protection than almost any other method.

Sorry to hear your troubles - I'm surprised your card company isn't being more helpful. Look into the stolen option - you'd have to update everyone on the new card but it will stop all payments to the old one for sure.
 

Nicoknowsbest

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Mar 31, 2014
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Thanks for your answer @JAJT .

I was very surprised myself. I have been on the phone with the 24/7 support of my bank for a while today.

They said until it was not an illegal transaction or until I officially resolved the papers with this company without response for a couple of days, they cannot step in.

I'll wait until Monday - if nothing happens, I'll call the card in stolen.

I thought the same about credit card providers - somehow disappointed that the reality looks a bit different.

Meanwhile I talked to somebody who advised me to get some sort of prepaid card for online purposes only - need to look into this.

Thanks for your help @JAJT - the customer service bit is definitely weird because I am a client of one of the biggest banks here - I'd expect better service. I'll definitely look into the stolen option!
 

FastNAwesome

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I have a separate, debit card, meant only for internet purchases. When I want to make a purchase, then I put just the right amount on it, so that's the maximum amount someone can (try) to trick me out of.
 
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JAJT

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I am a client of one of the biggest banks here - I'd expect better service.

Ha, you and literally everyone else!

Friendly banking is gone. Modern banking has embraced all the worst parts of bureaucracy.

I've been working with my bank (RBC in Canada) a lot recently to restructure a lot of my accounts / cards and every single request, no matter how logical or small, has been met with utter nonsense.

I would absolutely love to see real competition come into the banking world. The current system is so broken and lagging behind it makes me wonder if stashing cash under my mattress might actually be the sane alternative.
 

Azure

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You can absolutely file a charge back over a misrepresentation of contract such as this.

Do NOT take a no from the customer service rep you first spoke to, elevate it above their head if need be.
 

Nicoknowsbest

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Mar 31, 2014
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First off, issue resolved.

Not the bank helped, but the guys I bought from refunded me after some back and forth.


I have a separate, debit card, meant only for internet purchases. When I want to make a purchase, then I put just the right amount on it, so that's the maximum amount someone can (try) to trick me out of.

This makes a lot of sense, I'll look into this. Thanks @FastNAwesome!


I would absolutely love to see real competition come into the banking world. The current system is so broken and lagging behind it makes me wonder if stashing cash under my mattress might actually be the sane alternative.

Fully agree with you on this. There are some digital alternatives I need to look into.

Some pressure on the dinosaurs of the industry wouldn't be too bad :)


Do NOT take a no from the customer service rep you first spoke to, elevate it above their head if need be.

Thanks @Azure, will do so.

I realized that there is hardly a "no", if you really insist on finding a solution.

It's a matter of how persistent you are.
 
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cabcaz

New Contributor
Jun 10, 2016
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You can absolutely file a charge back over a misrepresentation of contract such as this.

Do NOT take a no from the customer service rep you first spoke to, elevate it above their head if need be.

His money is 100% gone! This is an old scam that has been running for well over in the 90s and the people who took his money are long gone. All bogus names and accounts. lol Geez are people so dumb that they have not known this? Google one dollar scam! The con has been used so many times in many variations and I suspect by scammers who are members of this forum too! The scam is too offer a free trial or just $1 fee and a chance to cancel anytime. All they need are you card details which they are going to charge. They use it for everything and anything. From fat loss supplement to lead generation. Anything as long as you leave your car details for a free trail which they claim you can cancel anytime. Over a million people have been scammed. OP is just another stat and nothing can ever be done to get that money back. He might get a fraction back but they will drag it all the way until they have scammed enough people and then vanish.

Let face it. who in their right mind will hand over their card details to unknown and unproven online companies? I'll tell you who? People not smart enough to make any money. If you people cant apply due diligence on something so obvious how are they going to handle the real sharks? Really dont understand how anyone can have over 1000+ posts on this forum and be scammed with something so obvious.

This is a rant more like because it frustrates me when I see people just hand over their money to scammers.

Rule number 1 - everyone wants to take your money, Legit or illegitimate way!
 
Last edited:

Azure

Perpetual Motion
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Sure, the initial money has been handed over to the scammer, but the ultimate arbitrator of an exchange of credit is the issuing credit card company - and they overwhelmingly find in favour of consumers when it comes to fraudulent purchases and chargebacks.
 

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