Mike Lancaster says he was contacted last year about contributing to a local charity. When he agreed, he was transferred to the gift department.
The gift department was really an Internet rewards company, he says. I gave them my credit card because it was what I thought was a local hospital.
The information about the contribution was clear to Lancaster, who says it sounded legitimate at the time. The woman on the phone explained to him what a great tax break this would make, and how it would also help this organization Central Rewards.
Then, I realized it was a scam, he says. I did not agree to anything else with them and tried to cancel immediately.
That was going to be a little difficult as she was unable to stop the transaction since it had been processed. The young woman gave him a website address and a contact number before hanging up.
He says she told him to call the cancellation number no one ever answered. To no avail, the initial charge went through.
As a result, they began charging it for hundreds of dollars, he says.
Lancaster called and called. After several attempts, he did get through to the gift department where he argued his case about making the contributions. The credit card was canceled and the card issuer argued in his favor to not pay the contribution.
I never agreed to their terms , he says. The debt is not valid.
But, the trouble didnt end there. Now, months later, he received a collection letter claiming he owed $2,200.
BBB says always make contributions on your time schedule. Do not let high-pressure representatives talk you into making contributions to charities you had not heard of. And, always check with the Wise Giving Alliance to check the charitys character and standing at bbb.org.
As Lancaster begins to deal with debt collectors, BBB suggests:
Æ Under the Federal Trade Commissions Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, collection agencies may not use any false, deceptive or misleading representations or means to collect debts.
Æ They may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person while attempting to collect a debt.
Æ A debtor may be contacted between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. only and can be contacted at work unless and until instructed by the consumer to stop such contact.
Æ Collectors may not tell others about the debtor's personal finances.
Æ Collection agencies must provide the name of the creditor to the consumer, if the consumer questions, and must verify the debt with the creditor, if the consumer contends the debt is not owed.
These requirements only apply to collection agencies. They do not apply to those creditors that have their own collection staff.
All debt collection agencies must have a license to operate from the Idaho Department of Finance.
Robb Hicken: 947-2115