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BBB warns of credit card processing scam

By Anastasia Zoldak

Stolen credit cards The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns of a credit card processing scam that has caused small business owners to lose hundreds of dollars throughout the St. Louis area. The credit card fraud involves a sales representative who offers to save the small business owner money on credit card processing fees if they sign a long-term agreement.
The salesperson closes the deal with a "no cancel" contract, leaving the customer with a loss of hundreds of dollars and a long-term lease agreement they cannot cancel.

According to the FBI, cases similar to the one in St. Louis are common and called mass marketing frauds. These contracts are legal, and once the three-day business trial period is complete, small businesses have little chance of canceling. Often, large deposits are required, leaving the businesses out the deposit money, even if they are able to cancel.

The swindles involve promises of lower merchant charges in exchange for the purchase of a service or product. Business owners are "sold" the product when they are too busy or distracted to ask questions. Some business owners new to using credit cards naturally assume the promises made are legitimate and happily sign agreements to save money. It is not until after the sale is final that they realize their monetary loss.

Mass marketing fraud
Anytime a small business deals with an outside salesperson, it faces the chance of getting caught in a mass marketing fraud. Advance fee schemes are the most common and occur when the victim pays money in anticipation of receiving something of value. To avoid this swindle, always have a company set up an appointment time that is convenient for you and during a time when distractions are at a minimum. Often these salespeople try to sell products during peak hours or shift changes.

Businesses should be suspicious of excessive sales pressure to sign any contract. Always read any contracts before signing. Never sign a "no cancel" contract without researching the company thoroughly, checking references and having an attorney look over the paperwork. The BBB offers businesses a reliability report, which provides information about reported companies. The BBB suggests that businesses make sure to get in writing the stipulation that any deposits are to be returned if the sale is not finalized. Never sign an incomplete agreement or one with blank areas.

Each credit card company offers information for new businesses on how to avoid credit card swindles. To receive lower merchant fees, it is best to go to the source first. The FBI warns that signing nondisclosure agreements during the sales process is designed to prevent businesses from independently investigating the fraudulent business. The FBI states that these scammers often threaten new businesses with civil suits if they report their losses to law enforcement or agencies such as the BBB.

Article by Anastasia Zoldak

Published: June 11, 2010

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