Scams & other seasonal delights

On the face of it, the check that came in today’s mail looked pretty good. It was drawn on JP Morgan Chase — can we still trust JP Morgan Chase? — and it came from that famous Processing Center in Nashville, site of countless refund checks for drug store coupon purchases. It was for $8.25, which will buy a couple of lattes. I live in a coupon-clipping household (if you were born in 1933, this is what you do) and really like lattes — and $8.25 is no small potatoes anyway.

In not-too-small print on the back, though, was a message: By cashing this check I agree to a thirty-day trial offer in XxxxGuard (names are changed here to protect the presumably innocent, or at least legal.)

Uh oh. I understand that the $13.99 monthly fee will be automatically charged to the credit card I have on file with Xxxx (a rental car company I occasionally use) unless I cancel my membership by calling 1-866-622-5186 (number not changed, in case you want to call and harrass them) before the end of the trial period.

Did I authorize Xxxx to be so generous with my credit information? Gaily offering to share it with XxxxGuard?   I understand that after my first year I will be charged $14.99 a month for the next 12 months and I will also be charged every month thereafter at the then-current monthly fee, unless I call to cancel and owe nothing further.

It gets worse. I authorize Xxxx (the rental car folks) to securely (well, thanks for the security) transfer my payment information to XxxxGuard for enrollment, billing and benefit processing and I authorize XxxxGuard to charge the monthly membership fee after my thirty-day trial.

You have to wonder what percentage of people endorse and cash these checks, and what percentage of that group didn’t pay close attention. What will we get for our $14.99 monthly fee? Two percent cash back on credit card (that card Xxxx has on file) new purchases, on the first $5,000. Having done my brain exercises (see post below), I can run those numbers.

If there are enough mystery people who actually buy from telemarketers to make it profitable for them to keep calling my number incessantly, there must also be gullible people who cash the $8.25 check and keep schemes like this one going. Paying close attention is wise these days.

And I think I’ll get my next rental car from another company.