Caution comes with inquiry about credit card woes; Central Rewards cited

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

Over the weekend, I was contacted by Mike from Pennsylvania who had read a posting on snake-river.bbb.org about a company’s claims that he’d been a winner of a gas card.

“There are 500 cases reported on the BBB, and additional hundreds of cases on complaintwire.com and ScamBook.com all across the US,” Mike says. “When will the FBI investigate this company?”

I explained how BBB investigated the company – Central Rewards in Florida – and posted a warning on its Business Review:

“Our file contains a pattern of complaints from consumers who report being contacted by this company by phone or text message and being offered a store gift card or gas card for amounts ranging from $100 to $200. The consumer reports they are to be charged a minimal handling fee ranging from $1 to $5. Consumers then report they are charged additional charges on their account for magazine subscriptions that were not explained in the verification call.

“Several complaints received by BBB allege they were on hold with major phone or insurance companies and a representative came on the line offering a $500 gas card for a $2.95 handling fee in recognition of their loyalty to the company. Consumers are asked to give their credit card information. When the major companies are contacted they know nothing of the promotion mentioned.”

BBB wrote in 2011 about Central Rewards offering a free Gas card to get an individual’s credit card number.

Mike was angry because he’d given out his credit card after being duped into thinking it was a hospital  organization who was calling.

“I did not agree to anything else with them and tried to cancel immediately,” Mike says. “They said that the only way to cancel was to call a cancellation number.”

He says he called and no one answered. Later, he discovered there were charges totaling hundreds of dollars.

“I canceled the card and the credit card company refunded me,” he says. “However, a few weeks ago (1/4/2013) – I got a call from a collections agency that Central Rewards turned over a debt of $2,200 to the collections agency which they state I owe.”

Here’s some advice I gave Mike:

  • Don’t call the scammer. Don’t reply to emails. Don’t respond to letters. We all like to have the last word, but returning the phone call may just give the con artist information he can use.
  • Work with your credit card company. If they reversed the charges on the credit card, they are aware of what’s happening with this company.
  • Report this scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Check out FTC.gov for more information about making a phone fraud report.

Sorry Mike, but the FTC will investigate this incident faster than the FBI.

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