When I first saw the name Experian on my Amex statement, I thought it must have been a hipster club that I forgot I wandered into and spent $21.55 on…I don’t know, maybe an over-priced, designer rye cocktail. Seemed plausible. I can’t possibly remember every bar that I go into. But then I saw that the charge was made in California. And it was made on the same day each month for the past three months. Uh oh.
I immediately logged-in to my account and looked at the charge details, which looked like this:
04/08/2012 Sun EXPERIAN *CREDITR877-297-7790 CA – $21.55
Merchandise & Supplies
Doing Business As: CONSUMERINFOCOM
Merchant Address: 535 ANTON BLVD #100
The same charges occured on the 8th of Feb, Mar, and Apr 2012.
I called Amex and disputed the charges. I had never done any business with that company, nor had I ever subscribed to services from them. The agent said that the vendor was part of their “no-signature” program and that I would have to call them directly.
I called the business number from my statement and got an auto attendant identifying the company as CreditReport.com. I was quickly routed to an agent. I explained the situation and he said he would look into it. He asked me for my name and DOB. That didn’t turn-up an account, so he asked me for my CC number. I had initiated the call and they were already charging my card anyway, so I gave it to him. Using that number he said that he found the account and that it belonged to somebody named “Yolanda.” I told him that I didn’t know anyone by that name. Without any further investigation, the agent said he would refund the charges. He also said that it was clear that the card had been compromised and that I should contact my CC company.
I called Amex again and told the agent what had happened. She cancelled my card, arranged to have a new card (new number) sent to me overnight, and then she put a temporary (five months) block on Experian. Crisis averted.
I felt lucky that even though my card number had been jacked, the only thing it had been used for was a subscription to a credit reporting service. What kind of hapless thief was this? If it wasn’t so nerve-racking, it would be comical. I tweeted The Case of the Ironic Credit Card Thief so that my friends could have a chuckle and then I went about my day.
That evening, I was having dinner with my friend Eric Fluhr and I recounted this episode to him. He asked about the name of the company in question and when I told him Experian, his face lit-up. “That happened to me and to my mother and brother, too!”
He told me his story and it was the same as mine, word-for-word. And that is when the penny dropped. All of the unanswerable questions suddenly had an answer. How could a consumer protection firm not use the most basic security measures to prevent CC fraud on their own systems? Why did an Experian agent allow me to cancel and reverse charges on a credit card which I did not prove was mine? Is there a mysterious cabal of credit card thieves who only use the stolen numbers to subscribe to a credit monitoring service? Of course not. It doesn’t make any sense. Who would stand to make any money from… oh.
Experian, through their subsidiary websites ConsumerInfo.com, CreditReport.com, FreeCreditReport.com, FreeCreditScore.com (and perhaps others) are charging consumer credit cards without authorization. It’s not even fraud, it’s just old-fashioned theft. I don’t know if they are feeding stolen credit card numbers to outside contractors who then sign-up for services, or if it is a completely automated in-house system. If the FBI can be bothered to look into it, maybe we will find out someday. Until then, I would not recommend doing business with this company in any way, shape, or form. If you ever see a charge on your credit card statement from Experian, call your credit card company immediately and block Experian charges from your card. Then call your State’s Attorney General.
If this happens to you, know that you aren’t alone. There are 468 complaints and counting on this site alone:
You can also Google the telephone number to find hundreds more.
Good luck. And remember to check your credit card statements every month!
Please pin, tweet, and share! Most importantly, let me know what you think in the comments below.
exact same thing happened to me today – had to cancel my amex card and call Experian to block all future transactions for that cc number.
I just found out about that I have been charged with 19.95 for 8 months!! Since I was out of the country and didn’t have internet during the trip, there is no way I can find out about this or even make the purchase. thank you very much for sharing and I think we should report to Amex about this issue.