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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I believe I have been the victim of an internet fraud. I responded

Resolved Question:

I believe I have been the victim of an internet fraud. I responded to an ad on BT's e-mail login page offering "free" skin care samples for the cost of postage and packing. I took down details of the invoice generated when I input my debit card details - the P & P was quoted as £2.99. Actually the company took £4.95 and a further £2.99 under a different company name on 27 January. Subsequently under the two different company names £89.00 and £95.00 were debited to my account on 7 February. My bank tells me that a continuous card payment has been set up for these sums and I have now requested that this be cancelled. The company concerned tells me that the "samples" were not free but only on a free trial.
I consider that a continuous card payment should have been drawn to my attention on the page on which I input my card details and that the ad and the website are fraudulent.
Whilst I can ask my bank to refund the money fifteen days hence on the basis of non-receipt of goods or services and I am attempting to contact trading standards, I would like advice as to the legal position.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

How can I help with this please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I want to know if I am correct in believing that to offer something as "free" and then charge for it is fraudulent.


Also whether to include that in "terms and conditions" which are not displayed without clicking through several additional screens renders the terms and conditions "unfair"?


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Well,it depends what was in the small print on the point.

Does it have any restrictions?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The small print was not drawn to my attention. Surely it depends on what is reasonable. If something is stated to be "free" is it reasonable to then charge vast sums of money for it, regardless of what the small print says?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Hello, I see you have decided not to continue with my colleague so I will help instead. What do you specifically wish to get out of this - just the return of your money?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The return of my money and to stop an internet fraud

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
Has your bank advised you that you will be able to get the money back from them?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Provided that I state that I have not received goods or services to which the payments pertain, but I have to wait for fifteen days beyond 7 February before I can ask the bank to initiate a chargeback.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
If give out your card details that effectively gives the other side authorisation to use it to make recurrent payments. This is dangerous because it basically allows them to charge your card whenever they believe money is owed and they do not need your permission to do so. Your initial consent is sufficient.

Whilst 99% of companies will never abuse this and will only take money that is genuinely due, a small proportion use this loophole in a fraudulent manner. They often complicate matters even more by not providing any contact details which makes it very difficult to contact them to try and cancel the payments.

The major issue is that there is no easy way to stop such payments. You will have to rely on the other party to stop taking the payments in the first place – you can’t simply ask your bank to block them.

If the payments are still being collected and the other party refuses to stop or simply ignores your requests, then you may need to raise a dispute with your bank or credit card provider. Contact them and state that you are disputing these unauthorised payments and request that they do something about it through their fraud protection scheme.

As an alternative, you may try cancelling the card that was used or even the account to which it is linked. Whilst in some instances that may work, if further recurring payments are made it could keep the account open and the bank may ask you to settle any debts first before it is closed.

In the first instance you should still contact the bank, whilst continuing to try and contact the party which is taking the payments.

In terms of trying to prevent this from occurring to others in the future, you may contact Action Fraud to report this: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud. You may also report this to your local police station as they are capable of dealing with scam reports, although they will rarely get involved unless you have suffered any losses.

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help:


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The advice re Action Fraud is useful but banking law re continuous card payments has changed and it is possible, and indeed a legal requirement, for a bank to cancel these at the customer's request.


Some banks have been slow to get to grips with this but my bank is aware of its obligations to customers.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.
yes it is correct that 'legally' you may stop these, my post simply reflected the actual position as I know few people who have had problems getting the bank to stop them.

This post from the FCA deals with this issue:

http://www.fca.org.uk/news/continuous-payment-authorities

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48158
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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