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"The people who cast the votes don't decide an election; the people who COUNT the votes do." -- Joseph Stalin

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Beware of Consumer Check Guarantee Scam

Check Authorization and Approval Ripoff

Yesterday, I accidentally stumbled upon a consumer scam that, upon research, is apparently a nationwide effort that is creating problems for unsuspecting consumers nationwide. Here is what happened. My wife and I stopped into a Target store and when we arrived at the check-out counter, my wife wrote a check for the amount of purchase, $160.17. The clerk advised us that the check was not approved. Knowing full well that the check was good since we have much more than that in the account, I told her to run it again. She did and said we would have to use a credit or check guarantee card.

Less than happy, I was handed a receipt with the name CERTEGY on it and a telephone number of 1-800-831-7764. This company is located in Tampa. I called the number and an automated voice answered, "Welcome, Target customer". It went on to ask me for various types of identification, then told me that my check was good but it was rejected as part of a campaign that takes certain profiles of check cashers and rejects their checks to provide "greater safety", is part of a prevention program, and one that should "enhance my shopping experience". I was invited to become a Certegy Gold Member which gurantees a better check writing checks will be accepted in more retailers.

What kind of crap is this? I can write a check at any retailer without having to join your little club and pay you money to make sure my check is approved. At least that's what I thought. I went online to do some research and then it hit me. These guys sign up retailers (Target, Office Max, Circle K, Best Buy, etc.) to use their "Check Approval" services with the intention of rejecting a certain number of them without cause in an effort to sign them up for their CERTEGY GOLD MEMBER services.

Why would retailers want to sign up with this company? Because CERTEGY pays the retailer a commission on every new GOLD MEMBER. It is a scam to help retailers bring in more cash, to make money for this so-called Check Approval company, and to make life a little less convenient and more expensive for unsuspecting consumers.

I located a website filled with consumer complaints about this company. Here are just a few of the multitude of complaints. If this happens to you, complain to your Congressman.

Doug of Shelby AL (04/12/09)
Certegy refused to process a check from our church account in payment of our website services with I spent 4 days back and forth with a certegy person telling me that there was no reason our check should not clear and GoDaddy being unable to get it to go through. Finally, in desperation I asked to speak with a supervisor at Certegy who informed me that they simply were not going to process the check and there was nothing that could be done. Because of this and the many other similar compaints of this firm's arbitrary and capricious actions I WANT THIS COMPANY SHUT DOWN!!! I urge everyone not to do business with companies that use Certegy, not even in cash, and let them know the reason.

Our church's website was taken down over Easter weekend - a time when traffic would normally be expected to increase.

Sterling of Lakewood OH (12/17/08)
I went to the Target store in Rocky River tonight and had a personal check refused through Certergy, or whatever it's called. I spoke to the manager and he said he couldn't do anything about it. Well, I can. I will NEVER set foot in any of [their] stores again. I've been going to Target since it first appeared in the Cleveland area, even purchased a microwave from that store a few weeks before. I'm 54, have a credit score of about 720, have never had a personal check refused in my life until tonight, have about $5,000 in that checking account they refused! I will also strongly encourage my kids to never buy anything from [their] stores again, don't know or care what [their] malfunction is, [they] have lost a customer for life.

William of Tyler TX (04/02/09)
I purchased business cards at Office Max that cost $141 and change. I wrote a check today April 2, 2009 for the amount of the charge that the clerk at Office Max was required to check with Certegy. To my astonishment and embarassment the check was declined. I then paid Office Max with my American Express card after the clerk told me Certegy said there were not sufficient available funds to clear the check. I left the store wondering what had happened.

I called Certegy and was told that I met a flagged profile and there was nothing they could do. I called my bank and was told that, as I knew, there is several thousands of dollars available in the account and thousands more in a backup account MMA.

I gather that this is not a new problem. I would like to know if there is a class action suit for public embarassment against this company. I would like to join the action.

I am also writing to the Office Max CEO about their business associates. I am a former CFO of a large corporation and I would never do business with unethical people.


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1 comment:

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