This is news I like to read about. Earlier this month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced in a news release that a federal court judge had ruled in its favor against a payment transactions processor that had helped telemarketing companies place charges on consumers' bank accounts that consumers did not request nor authorize:
"According to a 2007 complaint filed by the FTC and seven states, Your Money Access, LLC and its subsidiary, YMA Company, LLC, processed unauthorized debits on behalf of deceptive telemarketers and Internet-based schemes that were violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and state consumer protection laws. The companies played a critical role in these schemes by providing access to the banking system and the means to extract money from consumers’ bank accounts."
The states involved with the FTC lawsuit were Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont. In October 2008, a default judgment stopped Your Money Access and YMA Company from payment processing for any company that conducted deceptive, unfair, or abusive business practices, as defined in the FTC Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and state consumer protection laws. According to the 2007 FTC complaint (PDF format):
"Since at least November 2003 through on,or about December 1, 2006, defendants, through YMA, offered payment processing services to hundreds of client merchants.... Between June 23, 2004 and March 31,2006, YMA processed on behalf of its client merchants more than $200 million in debits and attempted debits to consumers' bank accounts. Of these attempted debits, more than $69 million were ultimately returned or rejected by consumers or consumers' banks for various reasons, evidencing the lack of consumer authorization."
You can view online the October 2010 judge's order (PDF format). According to BusinessWeek, Your Money Access LLC went bankrupt in 2008. Your Money Access, LLC was located on West Lake Mary Boulevard in Lake Mary, Florida. It operated under several brand names including Netchex Corp., Universal Payment Solutions, Check Recovery Systems, Nterglobal Payment Solutions, and Subscription Services, Ltd. YMA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Your Money Access, was located at the same address. Derrelle Janey was the President, and Tarzenea Dixon was the Chief Executive Officer of Your Money Access.
The FTC advises consumers to perform these steps if you are billed for products or services that are never delivered:
- If you were billed on your credit card, write to the bank that issued your credit card at their address for "billing inquiries" (not the address to send payments to). Describe in your letter billing error and amount. Also include your name, address, and account number
- Your letter must arrive at your credit card issuer within 60 days of the bill that contained the error
- Send your letter by certified postal mail, return receipt requested. That way, you have proof when your letter arrived at your credit card issuer
- To support your description, include copies (not originals) of sales receipts with your letter. Keep a copy of your letterfor your records
- Send your letter to the correct company. For example, if you have a Visa credit card, look on the back of your statement for the correct addres, so you send your letter to the bank that issued your card; not to Visa
The FTC website provides a sample dispute letter. By law, your credit card issuer must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days after receiving your letter, unless the problem has already been resolved. Your credit card issuer must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles (but not more than 90 days) after receiving your letter. You do not have to pay the disputed amount, but you have to pay the rest of your credit card bill and applicable interest charges.
If you paid with a debit card, contact the bank that issued your debit card to see what protections are offered. You may or may not have the same protections as purchases made with a credit card. See the FTC website for additional information if you ordered the products or services via mail or telephone.