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GameStop, Other Retailers Subpoenaed Over Credit Card Information Sharing 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
New York State's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has subpoenaed a number of online retailers, including GameStop, Barnes & Noble, Ticketmaster and Staples, over the way they pass information to marketing firms while processing transactions. MSNBC explains the scenario thus: "You're on the site of a well-known retailer and you make a purchase. As soon as you complete the transaction a pop-up window appears. It offers a discount on your next purchase. Click on the ad and you are automatically redirected to another company's site where you are signed up for a buying club, travel club or credit card protection service. The yearly cost is usually $100 to $145. Here's where things really get smarmy. Even though you did not give that second company any account information, they will bill the credit or debit card number you used to make the original purchase. You didn't have to provide your account number because the 'trusted' retailer gave it to them for a cut of the action." While there is no law preventing this sort of behavior, Cuomo hopes the investigation will pressure these companies to change their ways, or at least inform customers when their information might be shared.
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GameStop, Other Retailers Subpoenaed Over Credit Card Information Sharing

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  • PCI? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Friday February 05, 2010 @07:30AM (#31033118) Homepage
    There may be no law against it, but how does it comply with PCI security requirements? Shouldn't those companies be losing their permission to accept credit cards?
    • Re:PCI? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ducomputergeek (595742) on Friday February 05, 2010 @07:57AM (#31033218)

      Depends on who is actually running the charge. If it's B&N, for instance, who runs the transaction and then gives the $$$ to the 3rd party minus B&N's kickback, then there is really nothing there against PCI rules. If B&N is giving the 3rd party client all the card info, then there could be some problems. But even then, the big no-no is how the CVV code is handled. So long as it isn't stored anywhere outside of ram and that it is discarded once the transaction is made, the PCI folks don't give a damn as far as I can tell.

      I'll give an example. We run a system where each one of our merchant has their own processing account. Usually we charge the merchant a flat annual hosting fee, but some of our clients wanted to move to a different model where we added in a $1.00 per order service fee to their customers instead of paying the annual rate. Our clients cited the economy, blah, blah, blah, and it's not something we wanted to do, but it was either that or loose the revenue from that client period. So we basically run card twice, once under our gateway for the $1.00 fee, then again under the merchant's gateway for the total bill.

      • Re:PCI? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday February 05, 2010 @08:20AM (#31033330) Homepage Journal

        Is the customer informed of this charge before completing the sale? It seems to me that the honest and transparent thing to do would be to add the service fee to the price.

        I like to know what I'm paying for, and how much I'm paying for it. I don't think that's unreasonable. Even airlines[1], who are notorious for adding x number of random surcharges to the advertised price give you an itemised breakdown before you commit.

        [1] I mean reputable ones, not Sleazyjet or Tryonair.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Is the customer informed of this charge before completing the sale? It seems to me that the honest and transparent thing to do would be to add the service fee to the price.

          I like to know what I'm paying for, and how much I'm paying for it. I don't think that's unreasonable. Even airlines[1], who are notorious for adding x number of random surcharges to the advertised price give you an itemised breakdown before you commit.

          [1] I mean reputable ones, not Sleazyjet or Tryonair.

          Problem is, you committed, and a n

          • I know they've diverged - it's been a few hundred years - but under UK common law a negative or passive acceptance is invalid.

            I'd consider closing the window to be such a thing - equivalent to not replying to a letter. The original precedent is based on such a case (about buying a horse) BICBATLIU.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ash-Fox (726320)

        If B&N is giving the 3rd party client all the card info, then there could be some problems. But even then, the big no-no is how the CVV code is handled. So long as it isn't stored anywhere outside of ram and that it is discarded once the transaction is made, the PCI folks don't give a damn as far as I can tell.

        It could be a hashed version of the entire card credentials to make a 'unique' identifier for the person to figure out what products to target to their customers and what they keep coming back for

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Depends on who is actually running the charge. If it's B&N, for instance, who runs the transaction and then gives the $$$ to the 3rd party minus B&N's kickback, then there is really nothing there against PCI rules. If B&N is giving the 3rd party client all the card info, then there could be some problems. But even then, the big no-no is how the CVV code is handled. So long as it isn't stored anywhere outside of ram and that it is discarded once the transaction is made, the PCI folks don't give a damn as far as I can tell.

        Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

        There, you just made a PCI auditor scream. Are you happy?

        If you have full card numbers that is the problem. There are 3 levels of CC data and they get more valuable as their completeness increases. CC#, CC# + CCV, Full Stripe. Full stripe is the most valuable as then you can print new cards. Also if you have ever had the strip on your card not work and had the cashier just punch in the # by hand (ever seen them put in a CCV after they punch in the #?) you know

    • Re:PCI? (Score:5, Informative)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday February 05, 2010 @07:58AM (#31033228)
      They've lost permission to accept my credit card. I'll shop elsewhere from now just for thinking that I'd allow this, regardless of restitution and new legal protections.

      FALITFA ( http://www.ag.ny.gov/media_center/2010/jan/jan27a_10.html [ny.gov] ): Barnes & Noble, Orbitz.com, Buy.com, Ticketmaster.com, MovieTickets.com, FTD.com, Shutterfly.com, 1-800Flowers.com, Avon.com, Budget, Staples.com, Priceline.com, GMAC Mortgage, Classmates.com, Travelocity, Vistaprint, Intelius, Hotwire.com, Expedia/Hotels.com, Columbia House, Pizza Hut and Gamestop/EB Games were subpoenaed.
      • Why would you shop at GameStop online when Amazon routinely kicks their ass on price and is just as 'not local'?
        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Because Amazon did not give me free DLC on the release of the last game I bought prerelease. and Amazon had it for the EXACT SAME release price plus shipping.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Why would you shop at Amazon when bittorrent routinely kicks their asson price and is just as 'not local'?

          • by Firehed (942385)

            If you have Amazon prime, the shipping is often faster.

            Seriously. Depends on the torrent, but I've had large files over bit-torrent take longer to download than it would have taken to get it shipped two-day with Amazon Prime.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by odin84gk (1162545)

          Amazon has frequently shipped games more than 1 week after the release. (My friend just got ME2, That long of a wait will steer any gamer away from Amazon for game purchases).

          • by radish (98371)

            Only if you choose free shipping. I use prime and if I preorder a game it arrives on release day (if they offer that service for that title) or at worst the day after.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AHuxley (892839)
        Now goto the http://consumerist.com/ [consumerist.com] and request/search for the respective top emails and tell them your thoughts too.
        Get a name to go with the brand.
        Then spread the word.
        The joy of reading about about your day job :)
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Friday February 05, 2010 @08:21AM (#31033338) Journal

      with out authorization it is credit card fraud among other things that a DA will throw at me. If a business gives my information to a third party and the third party charges my credit card then that's just sharing? I need to start up a couple of businesses.

      Apparently social gaming [slashdot.org] is a great business model for this kind of crap. The mentioned retailers get you after you make your purchase but when you need more resources in Farmville or Mafia Wars on Facebook [slashdot.org]:

      In games like Mafia Wars, Farmville, YoVille and Vampires Live, you know, some of the major sources of all those garbage announcements cluttering up your Facebook, players compete to complete missions and level up. By leveling up, you can complete more difficult missions and fight off weaker opponents. You can wait for your various energies to regenerate naturally over time, or you can purchase with real money in-game boosts. Or, you can complete various lead generation offers, many of which are of the "answer page after page of questions and opt in and out of receiving various kinds of spam" variety. Some of them install malware and adware that is impossible to remove. And some of them secretly subscribe you to monthly recurring $9.99 credit card charges.

      Don't ever put your credit card information into Facebook or a Facebook app. Social Media is rife with crap like this [washingtonpost.com]. Right about now we should be asking when we'll get to see the findings in the the federal probe that set out to address shoddy "business practices" like this [slashdot.org] and what is being done about it now that we know about it [senate.gov]?!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Don't ever put your credit card information into Facebook or a Facebook app.

        Well, no - but I'm no more likely to do that than I am to put my genitals in a meat grinder... I'm amazed that anyone would

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I'm pretty sure there's a generally-worded fraud law or something somewhere on the books that would catch this since these guys are basically waiting until you buy one thing and then without knowledge or consent billing you for a second thing.

      It's like going to a restaurant, ordering your meal, paying, and then finding out that on the back of one of the fold out flaps in the menu it says you'll also be charged a $150 service charge. You looked at one price, you agreed to one price, and while technically you

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Perhaps one of the "Bait and Switch" laws on the books would cover this practice...

      • by riegel (980896)

        I'm pretty sure there's a generally-worded fraud law or something somewhere on the books that would catch this since these guys are basically waiting until you buy one thing and then without knowledge or consent billing you for a second thing.

        The problem is the pop-up or whatever says something like "Would you also like salsa with your chips? (we'll ship a new jar every month)" and when you click "yes" you are aware of it and are also consenting to it.

        • You mean the popup that I didn't know would instantly appear right where I was going to click anyway and possibly can't get rid of without clicking?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Firehed (942385)

          You haven't seen these things in action.

          They're (often) ads designed to look like coupons that are inserted into the middle of or immediately after the checkout process. I've even seen them placed in order confirmation emails. "Click here to save $10 on that order you just completed." kind of things, with no fine print whatsoever. Some of them will immediately sign you up; others will make you hit at least one additional page before you get screwed over - it depends on how much or little fine print, usual

          • I've found that you can get a long way by complaining. I signed up for a credit card offered by Amazon (I'm in the UK) with 10 months' interest-free credit. I have the money, but why not get the interest and/or invest in other things on their credit, right? On my second statement I had a huge amount added on for interest etc. as I had supposedly missed a 'minimum payment'. I phoned them up and said that I had never seen any warning that the 'interest free' period required a minimum payment, and they too
  • by ImNotAtWork (1375933) on Friday February 05, 2010 @07:37AM (#31033132)
    with out authorization it is credit card fraud among other things that a DA will throw at me. If a business gives my information to a third party and the third party charges my credit card then that's just sharing? I need to start up a couple of businesses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      I can't remember the exact phrase, but to me it's an unsolicited sale - like when they send you shit in the post that you didn't order.

      There should be a clear go/no-go point in any transaction, just like there is in a physical shop.

    • by rhsanborn (773855)
      Except, if I remember it correctly, you did autorize it, it is just in very tiny print somewhere on the form you clicked. Smarmy yes, illegal, maybe not.
      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday February 05, 2010 @09:16AM (#31033634) Homepage Journal

        I disagree. If I authorize a 20 buck one-off charge on whatever.com, I'm not authorizing a 30 buck per month charge from somethingelse.com, whatever the small print says. Just because it's there doesn't make it enforceable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tomtomtom (580791)

        At least in the UK, this type of activity would probably fall foul of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, especially if well buried in the small print. There is a decent amount of case law prior to this legislation supporting this as well.

        Not that that particularly helps you as an individual, since you'd then need to reverse the card transaction, then risk being sued for it and, finally, asserting that the term was unfair and therefore void in your

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rhsanborn (773855)
          I'm hoping courts will agree with you. Sneaking terms into small print while implying something else in regular print should be illegal. Whether courts see it that way, however, is very much in question.
          • In the UK I'm pretty sure this practice wouldn't be allowed, and wouldn't even need to go to court, the FSA would deal with it. I've not come across it on any UK-based sites so far.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cdrudge (68377)

        Except, if I remember it correctly, you did autorize it, it is just in very tiny print somewhere on the form you clicked

        Yeah, it was <small> print inside of a <!-- comment --> inside of a <div> that has a style of "display:none; position:absolute;left:-10000px;". I don't know why couldn't see it.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Insert "Beware of the Leopard" comment here.

      • Best Buy lost a class action lawsuit in California around 2000 for doing this in person.

        A customer would make a live purchase with a credit card and the cashier would as them if they wanted a magazine for free. If the customer said yes, they were given a three month trial that would then auto bill the customers credit card until the customer canceled the account. (Some times the customer said no or was not asked and they were still signed up.)
      • "... you did authorize it; it is just in very tiny print somewhere on the form you clicked. Smarmy yes; illegal, maybe not.
        FTFY.

        I do want to mention a shell script that might be of interest. It automates the task of looking for subtle changes in Terms and Conditions for those web agreements that you click on for day-to-day banking, etc. After a while, people get used to clicking "Agree" on long pieces of text in tiny scrolling windows every time they access the bank web site or Internet store. Ridiculou

    • Making a clear cut law won't stop it either, they'll work around a loophole, probably something similar to; Buy something through Ticketmaster, TM site has a pop up to Acme Company Inc, and when you click the pop up, Ticketmaster charges you an extra $100 for that, they send $70 to Acme. Nothing they did was considered illegal, as the information you entered was with Ticketmaster, and processed through them. I've come across these (I was on Ticketmaster the other day) and its a good thing popup blockers a
    • by jythie (914043)
      Even if it is not illegal, credit card companies are always thrilled to do chargebacks....
  • Legal but dishonest (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shrike82 (1471633) on Friday February 05, 2010 @07:44AM (#31033160)
    From TFS:

    While there is no law preventing this sort of behavior

    Well that, right there, would appear to be a fairly large gap in the legal system. Common sense, decency and good old fashioned right and wrong clearly indicate that there should be a law against this.It reminds me of a scam that a site called RedSave.com ran in the UK. Hidden way, way down in the tiny small print of their Terms and Conditions when you made a purchase was a line that stated "We will charge you £20 every month unless you contact us to opt out". Apparently this isn't against the letter of the law, but it sure as hell isn't a good business practice and isn't in the interests of the consumer. It, and the situation from TFA, are examples of cynical, money-grabbing exploitation of customers. One can only hope that a sensible judge has the balls to come down really hard on them, discouraging others from trying these sorts of practices in the future.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      Well, it's certainly misleading, deliberately so, and is intended for financial gain. I wonder if there is a possibility of fraud. Putting terms in with the full knowledge that people aren't going to read them is surely deception. Surely gullibility of the victim isn't a defence.
      • Gullible/Lazy/Stupid people have been getting screwed by not reading the fine print since long before credit cards existed.

        Fine print exists because its the only way to spell out all the required terms and conditions in this litigious day and age. You just cant put all the terms of all transactions in two sentences.

        Usually its pretty easy to tell if you might get screwed by the fine print without even reading it.

        However in this case, although it appears you were told you were signing up for something, havi

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shrike82 (1471633)
          There's a massive difference between stating legal obligations in the Terms and Conditions, and hiding the fact that the customer will be charged £20 every month with no benefit in there. Recurring monthly charges should be clearly stated, especially when a customer is expecting a one off payment for a product. Would you be happy is Amazon suddenly started taking money from you each month after you bought a CD from them?
          • by 91degrees (207121)
            Well, it's not really about whether people are happy with it. It is quite clearly dishonest and in an ideal world, all dishonesty of this sort would be illegal.

            The problem is there's no clear line about what is and isn't legal. Hiding recurring charges in small print should be illegal and may well be unenforcable, whereas putting reasonable limitations in the small print is just a means to be sure all the information is provided.
    • by Archon-X (264195) on Friday February 05, 2010 @08:24AM (#31033354)

      Both VISA and Mastercard have very explicit regulations on data sharing, and how 'Cross Sales' are conducted: they both prohibit it in their merchant agreements.
      VISA is somewhat lax on its enforcement, preferring to take a case-by-case approach if there is abuse, however has been cracking down significantly on this type of behavior of late: http://corporate.visa.com/media-center/press-releases/press969.jsp [visa.com]

      Mastercard will fine and terminate merchants it finds passing CC information between third parties. Fines normally start at 25k per offense.

      The storage of CC data is another highly regulated procedure. 'Normal' merchants are prevented from storing CC data, and to even handle it, normally have to become PCI-compliant.
      The storage of CVV data is very, very regulated - You have to have PCI-level 3 compliance - something typically reserved for merchant processors themselves.

      To say that no regulation exists is somewhat uninformed.

      However, even with the above all in place, as these guys are all using merchant accounts, they're going to see all the CC/CVV information in the flux; as presented by the article, it's very common to use this data, if the merchants can 'stay under the radar'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Firehed (942385)

        That's all true, but PCI compliance has nothing to do with legality. Violating the standard will get you shut down by your merchant processor (or someone else in the chain of your ability to accept credit cards), but it's not illegal.

        Ultimately though, it comes down to a risk vs reward thing for those enforcing the standards. After all, Visa and Mastercard are getting a piece of every single transaction. Until people start calling up their issuing bank and charging back these fraudulent cross-sells (and do

      • by cas2000 (148703)

        Both VISA and Mastercard have very explicit regulations on data sharing, and how 'Cross Sales' are conducted: they both prohibit it in their merchant agreements.
        VISA is somewhat lax on its [...]
        Mastercard will fine and terminate merchants [...]
        To say that no regulation exists is somewhat uninformed.

        to think that company policies are anything even remotely like *regulation* is not only naive, it is stupid. to *say* it or offer it as advice is either deliberate deception or, more likely, just negligent.

        co

      • I keep hearing about prohibitions in merchant agreements, such as they can't ask you for ID when using a credit card, or they can't charge an additional fee to use a card, or they can't require a minimum. Yet nearly every business around me does all of these things. So either restrictions on merchant accounts aren't enforced or there is a huge misunderstanding of what businesses are allowed to do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)

      It reminds me of a scam that a site called RedSave.com ran in the UK. Hidden way, way down in the tiny small print of their Terms and Conditions when you made a purchase was a line that stated "We will charge you £20 every month unless you contact us to opt out". Apparently this isn't against the letter of the law, but it sure as hell isn't a good business practice and isn't in the interests of the consumer.

      While I don't suspect it's illegal (i.e. the owners of the business aren't going to end up in j

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        "illegal" is against the law- it doesn't relate to whether you go to jail or not.

        Making unauthorized copies of media content is illegal- but depending on the nature, you could just be sued OR go to jail for it. There's tons more things like that on the books.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Common sense, decency and good old fashioned right and wrong clearly indicate that there should be a law against this

      What do common sense, decency and good old fashioned right and wrong have to do with the law?

      • by Shrike82 (1471633)

        What do common sense, decency and good old fashioned right and wrong have to do with the law?

        Sadly, very little. At some point legality and morality diverged. Or perhaps they were never related at all.

  • in most countries outside of the U.S.

  • WHAT? (Score:2, Interesting)

    This is absolutely frightening. Now I'll have to read the privacy statements to see if they share credit card information with other companies also? What exactly do the claims of "You are secure" and sort mean?

    Fortunately my bank has disabled on-line transactions by default, and neither do I ever intend to click any ad while using my card. But I think that a lot of credit cards are activated for internet use, and

    Information about joining the membership program and its ramifications, including the fact that the consumer is agreeing to transfer his or her credit or debit card account information, is buried in fine print and cluttered text.

    is a terrible prospect as just seeing an ad doesn't usually mean agreeing to the purchase UNTI

  • Really! I didn't -mean- to buy Blow-Up Betty and a years subscription to Back-Door Babes. They tricked me into it!
  • For once ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Friday February 05, 2010 @08:05AM (#31033268)

    ... it seems like PayPal looks good in comparison.

  • by goldaryn (834427) on Friday February 05, 2010 @08:30AM (#31033386) Homepage
    Wow, that's incredible. I find popups and popunders very invasive, so for years I haven't clicked them on principle. I had no idea that it had gotten this far.

    I'm going to print off this article (I suggest you do the same) and find the dopey people that I know (the ones who use IE and think sending chain emails is a good idea), thrust it to them and say: "Don't... click... popups!". If that doesn't wake them up, nothing will..

    If anyone is interested, I posted the other day [slashdot.org] about the marvels of Privoxy, which stops a lot of ads, irrespective of browser.
  • Smarmy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by YourExperiment (1081089) on Friday February 05, 2010 @08:31AM (#31033388)

    Here's where things really get smarmy.

    Excuse me?

    Smarmy: unpleasantly and excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech

    Perhaps the word you were looking for is one of: deceptive, devious, underhand, sneaky, execrable, abhorrent, hateful, annoying, irritating, enraging, infuriating or inexcusable?

    It's hard to believe that this practice is legal. I give my credit card details to one company, and it becomes perfectly legal for them to sell these details to a completely unrelated third party, simply because I clicked on an advert on a web site?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you need car parts. DO NOT go to JC Whitney. They did this. The company they sold my credit card information to had gone under a dozen different names and phone numbers in the last 6 years. They were investigated by the Better Business Bureau. Everything time the BBB got close they shut their doors changed their name and they were starting right up again. The other company got $9 a month for 6 months before we realized it. I found out through bragging on the other website that they had gotten over 12

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      Which is something of a shame... In years long past, they were the go-to guys for hard to find auto parts and tools via mail.

  • Pizza Hut? (Score:3, Informative)

    by EzInKy (115248) on Friday February 05, 2010 @09:18AM (#31033642)

    You know, you almost come to expect this kind of behavior from scummy web based companies, but really, Pizza Hut? I had to check out their Privacy Policy [pizzahut.com] once I found out they were involved in this action and sure enough it says:


    Should you choose to accept an offer from a third party, We will pass your relevant Personal Information, which may include your name, address, and credit/debit card number, to that third party.

    Okay Pizza Hut, like, WTF?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBC1977 (978793)
      I'm not seeing the problem here. Its clearly spelled out "Should you choose to accept an offer from a third party, We will pass your relevant Personal Information, which may include your name, address, and credit/debit card number, to that third party."

      Lets be real here, business are not out to be your friend. They are created to generate income for some individual / group. Ask for and READ the contract before conducting any transaction. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Blue Stone (582566)

        >Lets be real here, business are not out to be your friend

        Yeah, but it's not good business to become your customer's enemy.

      • by phorm (591458)

        Contract? Seriously, other than the usual I-give-you-money-and-you-give-me-functional-product contact inherent in a sale, there should NOT be a contract.
        This goes a bit further into the area of affiliate "loyalty" programs, but they're still dealing with what are essentially hidden contracts.

        So unless you want it to be permissible for the local supermarket to sell your CC# to "Loyalty Agency X" the next time you use a discount coupon to save $0.25 on your next roll of ass-wipe paper, then perhaps you SHOULD

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Friday February 05, 2010 @09:56AM (#31033918)

    Best buy used to do this and they got in big trouble In more then one way one was the MSN thing where they scan the free disk but don't tell you that you when singed up for a 2 year deal after the free trial ended and some people did not even use the disk and did not know that they when singed up for msn and then was the free magazine when you got singed up for if you did not call up and have it stopped.

  • "As soon as you complete the transaction a pop-up window appears. It offers a discount on your next purchase. Click on the ad...." So this is something that affects only people dumb enough to click on pop-ups, while those of us with either blockers or the brains to close pop-ups like this when they open are not affected? Internet darwinism at work and working as intended imo.
    • "As soon as you complete the transaction a pop-up window appears. It offers a discount on your next purchase. Click on the ad...." So this is something that affects only people dumb enough to click on pop-ups, while those of us with either blockers or the brains to close pop-ups like this when they open are not affected? Internet darwinism at work and working as intended imo.

      Thanks- I was hoping someone would point this out, and I agree with you. It's sad commentary that today's consumers still don't approach every purchase expecting to get burned. Now, before anyone gets up in arms over that statement, let me explain: I don't agree it *should* be this way, but I know that it *is* this way and protect myself accordingly.

      • by Jed_8 (1611735)
        Agreed, I wish I could go out there and trust vendors (both online and offline), but that's not the world we live in. Unless you have reason to believe otherwise, if anything sounds a little bit too good to be true, assume it is a scam. -Learn what different types of URLs do. -Run Firefox, disable pop-ups, run NoScript and ONLY run things you know you can trust. -Don't ever save personal or CC info anywhere you don't absolutely have to. -If you can use any kind of service which allows at least some other
      • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Friday February 05, 2010 @12:37PM (#31035614)

        "As soon as you complete the transaction a pop-up window appears. It offers a discount on your next purchase. Click on the ad...." So this is something that affects only people dumb enough to click on pop-ups, while those of us with either blockers or the brains to close pop-ups like this when they open are not affected? Internet darwinism at work and working as intended imo.

        Thanks- I was hoping someone would point this out, and I agree with you. It's sad commentary that today's consumers still don't approach every purchase expecting to get burned. Now, before anyone gets up in arms over that statement, let me explain: I don't agree it *should* be this way, but I know that it *is* this way and protect myself accordingly.

        Actually, it can affect you if you don't click the popup too.

        It's a major scam, and it's not necessarily a popup.

        You click "Continue" on your transaction, and the site summarizes your order. Then instead of a continue button, you have a big button that says "Place order - and get 10% off your next!". What you don't see is hidden in the fine print is a link that says "No thanks - just place my order".

        Or, after you place your order, on the thank you page, it'll have a blurb saying "Special offers for your next order" with "Save 10% off your next order!". Hell, the craftier ones put a 10% off discount on your order automatically, and a link hidden at the bottom saying "No, I don't want the discount".

        The nastiest ones though are the ones that require no clicking at all - you done your order, you close the browser while inadvertently NOT clicking the "No" link. By closing the window and not declining, you're signed up anyway. Hell, I bet half of them exist in the terms and conditions of sale, and people blindly check the box saying they agree.

        Basically, unless you read every word of every screen, it's impossible to not inadvertently do it. It's a huge scam and everyone's hiding behind the fine print. And the fact that people love getting discounts, so a 10% off the next order would be valuable.

  • Yay! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sesshomaru (173381) on Friday February 05, 2010 @10:23AM (#31034140) Journal

    This is the best news I've heard in a while. I do tech support for a local Buddhist temple, which has some staff authorized to use corporate credit cards to buy supplies for the temple.

    Well, more then once I've been called in to help out with the mysterious charges on their credit cards, and it's always because of this scam. These people are both good-hearted and completely unsophisticated, they see someone offering a discount they don't question it. (Recently these scam artists had to change up their fine print so it's easier to read due to lawsuits in other states.)

    The worst thing is it's semi-reputable companies destroying their brands for the sake of getting $10 a month charges out of grandma's checking account. I mean Barnes and Nobel? I used to work for them, I can't believe they've sunk this low.

  • Ventrue? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    From TFA:

    The three discount companies in question are Webloyalty, Affinion/Trilegiant and Vertrue.

    Well, there you go. Anyone dumb enough to accept a discount from an ancient lineage of aristocratic vampires deserves what they get.

    Wait... oh, Vertrue. Oops. Never mind.

  • I like to see a website set up that lists sites that do this practice. Hopefully some developer can make a plugin that warn or even block this for firefox and other browsers.
  • My wife got scammed 4 1/2 years ago when shopping at Joann.com, which is the web store for Jo-Ann fabrics and crafts, a major national chain. At the end of her purchase, she was offered a $10 coupon, and only had to give her email address. She gave the address of an account she uses for things that might generate a lot of spam. She never received the email containing any coupon information, but Webloyalty started charging our CC $10/month. After the second month, we caught on, and contacted them about i

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      Leo Laporte (of The Screensavers, Call For Help, and now the TWiT Network) reported on this months ago on multiple podcasts, I'm sure including the Security Now podcast. And yes, even if you think you're being smart by giving a fake e-mail address, it doesn't matter since the site you were on is handing the billing information over to this other site (and gets paid for the referral).

      Don't try to be clever on-line after you've just given someone your credit card number. The site coming up to you saying, "I s

    • This happens to me about every year (I swear Best Buy must do this, I keep getting magazine subscriptions even though every time I insist no), so I've made it a habit of just closing my account once a year to change the account numbers so these companies no longer have my information (they are nearly impossible to get a hold of and claim ignorance every time). Now I only shop online via amazon and newegg and no longer buy anything from Best Buy, and so far I've been lucky.

  • I don't see any problem in this, actually.

    Sign me up for as much stuff as you want. I'll keep whatever you send me and reverse charges for the rest. I don't even mind the inconvenience, because I know that Visa will charge the merchant a fee and if enough people have done it then they will increase the cost of transactions.

    Buyers are protected with Visa, what part of that don't you understand?

  • Why there isn't a law flat-out barring businesses from giving away or selling their customers' personal information is a mystery to me.

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