Warning: Read The Fine Print Before Cashing An Unexpected Rebate Check

Jessica Doyle reports that a scammy company is tricking Snuggie owners, among others, into signing up for its service by sending out fake rebate checks for $8.25:

At first, it looks like a rebate check, but read the fine print. It says if you endorse and cash the check, you are signing up for a marketing service called “Great Fun.” Then, your credit card will be charged $149.99. That subscription will renew annually unless you cancel it with Great Fun.

It’s not just for Snuggie owners—Doyle says the company is also targeting “people who bought the PedEgg and Aqua Globes watering system.”

Remember to never, never cash a check from an unknown entity. If it’s not part of an advance-fee fraud scheme, it’s probably bait to get you to sign up for something worthless like Great Fun.

“Consumer Alert: Snuggie Check Rip-Off” [WUSA9]
(Photo: iluvrhinestones)

Comments

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  1. Adam Armstrong says:

    And canceling it sounds like Great Fun

  2. theblackdog says:

    Is that target part of the new “douchebag” line of snuggies?

  3. LordSkippy says:

    I guess they are thinking that if you can’t figure out how to put a housecoat on backwards, then you don’t read fine print or check your credit card statements.

  4. I Love New Jersey says:

    What if you cash the check without endorsing it?

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      @I Love New Jersey:

      The bank shouldn’t allow that.

      • ecwis says:

        @wrjohnston91283: Right… my banks always allow it. You can just write “for deposit only” or if it’s deposited into an ATM, they probably will never actually look at the check to see if there’s an endorsement.

      • shepd says:

        @wrjohnston91283:

        I asked about this once at my bank, since I deposit my cheques at the ATM and don’t carry pens around with me. They explained that cheques cashed at the ATM do not require a signature.

        Of course, notice how I spelled cheque and maybe it different for you.

    • wvFrugan says:

      @I Love New Jersey:

      Actually there is a banking term for this, it is legal & is considered to be the same as signing and has the full effects thereof. I forget the term or phrase, it is something like “endorsement by action”?

      • Anonymous says:

        If you write “For Deposit Only” on the back of a check, guess what? You can’t cash it, you have to deposit it. If you want to CASH a check, you must sign it. Of course, a bank can always refuse to honor a check if it is not endorsed to their specifications, for example, if you don’t sign an insurance check, they might return it anyway because it’s an insurance check.

  5. twophrasebark says:

    Technically… signing a contract on the back of a check is legally unenforceable.

    Even worse, you’re not even supposed to put agreements on the back of a check… and should you cross out such an agreement… some banks may consider the check bona fide and deposit the check anyway.

    None of this will probably stop scummy company from trying to bill you or charging your credit card.

    • Bob Lu says:

      @twophrasebark: Can you show us the laws supporting what you said? I think equip ourselves with the knowledge of such laws will be useful.

      • twophrasebark says:

        @Bob Lu:

        See Brady on Bank Checks: The Law of Bank Checks.

        In essence, you can’t preclude someone’s right to endorse a bank check. So if you write “By depositing this check, you agree to subscribe to Scam Illustrated” on the back of a check, this will mean nothing. The consumer has a right to endorse the check without agreeing to anything.

        Technically speaking, if someone writes you a check, that money is yours. But just to make clear: as we’ve seen on Consumerist, this doesn’t preclude scummy companies from violating the law or trying their darnedest to do so.

        • Skin Art Squared says:

          I hope they send me some of those checks. I’ll cash them immediately. (Woohoo! 8 dollars! I can get a….. um….. what can I get for $8 bucks again?) Love to see them try to charge me. And since my credit reports are frozen, they can’t report anything on them either. Free money.

        • SabreDC says:

          @twophrasebark: But, as you said, that applies to bank checks (aka cashier’s checks), not business and personal checks.

  6. czetie says:

    I still wish I’d realized sooner that there was an opportunity marketing to people who think that a blanket is too complicated to operate…

    • alexawesome says:

      @czetie: Frankly, you’d think sleeves would make the whole process unbearable. I just envision getting calls, “Alex, how do I connect the sleeves? I’m getting a strange error message when I try to put it on.”

      Ah, snuggie tech support. A whole new realm of terrifying possibilities.

  7. Darascon says:

    How are they accessing your Credit Cards through your bank account?

    • scoosdad says:

      @Darascon: When you sign the check you’re simply authorizing them to make another charge to the credit card you used to buy the Snuggie originally. Has nothing to do with the bank you deposit the check to, or your checking account, or where you cashed it. They get the check back to them when it clears the banking system, they have your signature saying it’s OK, and voila, another charge to that Visa.

      • alexawesome says:

        @scoosdad: Which begs the question – how are they getting that info in the first place? Why are they intercepting these purchases and accessing customer information? Given the fine print, this is most likely one of those barely-legal scams. Much like the girls gone wild videos.

  8. SacraBos says:

    Okay, maybe this might be the one time I would take a check one of those check cashing places. Sure they’ll take a little off the top, but the scummy people can’t get my banking info.

    Maybe they would start trying to take the $149 out of the check cashing company’s account… That could be all kinds of win.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      @SacraBos:

      They’d still have your address and would bill you and send you to collections – not really worth the hassle for $8

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @wrjohnston91283: Yes, not worth 8 bucks. But I don’t think collections can do much without an SSN. Like tarnish your credit report. So all they could do is send you letters. And I doubt they will go to court over 8 bucks. Plus the check probably isn’t an enforceable contract anyways.

    • wvFrugan says:

      @SacraBos:

      The money comes from the credit card you used to buy the Snuggie, not out of the account the check is cashed on. Reading comprehension folks!

  9. James Burey says:

    I’m thinking if you got the cheque in the first place they already have your credit card number and will be charging that.

  10. ckaught78 says:

    No worse than your credit card company sending you a check for a few dollars only to realize after reading the fine print that if you cash it you are signing up for balance insurance.

    • krunk4ever says:

      @ckaught78: Just came here to say that. Credit card companies always send me checks of less than $10 stating that if this check is deposited, I’d be enrolled in some fraud protection and other services provided at a monthly fee of $20 or so.

      They’ve been doing that for ages.

  11. stickfig says:

    got the same check yesterday, it says on the back

    “I authorize Great Fun to charge the annual membership fee after my free trial. I agree to a thirty-day trail offer in Great Fun. I understand that the $149.99 annual membership fee will be charged to my credit card on file with Snuggie unless I cancel my membership by calling 1-866-709-4170 before the end of the trial period. My membership will be automatically renewed and I will also be charged every year thereafter at the then-current fee unless I call to cancel for a refund of the unused portion of the current year’s fee. By cashing this check I authorize Snuggie to securely transfer my credit card information to Great Fun for enrollment, billing and benefit processing”

  12. Megalomania says:

    Is there any actual benefit to this “Great Fun” service? Like, did they even bother pretending that they aren’t some sort of scam?

    Also, if you black out the entirety of the “I authorize…” part before signing and cashing, can you sue them for fraud if they try to charge you?

  13. ultimatecardsfan says:

    funny enough, I actually DID sign up for “Great Fun” in order to receive $25 in gas cards (I got the offer after booking a rental car reservation online).

    Surprisingly, it worked basically as they said — I signed up, then got the packet and junk in the mail and immediately called to cancel. It was a little bit of a hassle on the phone to cancel — lots of “are you sure?” and “let me just rehash the benefits of being a member of Great Fun before you cancel.” But they did cancel me on the first phone call.

    Within a few days, my gas ExxonMobil gas cards showed up in the mail. So essentially $25 in gas cards in exchange for one 5-minute, semi-hassled phone call. I’ll take it.

    To be entirely honest, even though I was a “trial member” of Great Fun, and they sent me the membership packet stuff, I still have zero idea what purpose it actually serves. lol

    • econobiker says:

      @ultimatecardsfan: Maybe you “thought” they cancelled you on the first phone call. Keep watch and be very guarded with your accounts…

      • josquin021 says:

        @econobiker:
        I did the same; I think it was Orbitz that offered 10% cash back if you did a Great Fun trial. I took the 10% and canceled Great Fun immediately. It wasn’t hard — a 10-ish minute phone call with, as ultimatecardsfan said, a lot of “are you sures”, but it worked and they never bugged me again.

      • ultimatecardsfan says:

        @econobiker: Yeah, I keep very close watch on my transactions through Mint. They haven’t taken any money out yet, and it’s been almost seven months.

        I hesitate to say they’re safe, of course, but my experience with it wasn’t damaging so far.

    • crashfrog says:

      @ultimatecardsfan: God, now I want to sign up just to see what they actually do!

    • coolteamblt says:

      @ultimatecardsfan: Wells Fargo a few years back offered us $25 to sign up for a trial of something like Great Fun. It was called something else. I think it was Vacation Zone Partners or something like that. I called and cancelled, but they billed my account $100 three weeks later. I called up to complain. They said that I cancelled the Vacation Zone Partners membership, but as a ‘favor to me’, they transferred my membership to one of their sister companies so I wouldn’t miss out on the savings! They then told me I had to tell them during the phone call that I wanted to cancel my membership and then list all of their sister companies that I don’t want my membership transferred to. And no, there wasn’t a list I could look up to find out. I finally had to get with WF and cancel that bank account number to stop the billing.

  14. Crabby Cakes says:

    Snuggie must get a cut of this, right? Otherwise, why would any company* partner with such a scam?

    *I realize Snuggie is not the best example of an awesome company, but still.

  15. Jeremy Shulke says:

    Well, if you’re dumb enough to buy a snuggie…

    Talk about a target demographic.

    • HRHKingFridayXX says:

      @Jeremy Shulke: I’m betting a large part of snuggie buyers are on the ironic bandwagon. But yes, if you bought one to sit on your couch (not for a bar crawl), then yes, that would be the target.

  16. Bryan_E says:

    My 90 year old grandmother gets these “rebate” checks in the mail all the time. Each time she cashes them and can’t understand why there are mysterious charges on her credit card each month. We got up to this happening 4 times before we started opening her mail for her.

  17. Mknzybsofh says:

    Great fun is owned and operated by Trilegiant who has been on [consumerist.com] a couple of times already. The [www.consumeraffairs.com] has a few articles as well about Trilegiant’s lawsuits and other fun bits of trivia.
    A link to [www.greatfunonline.com] website.

    FYI Trilegiant is now called Affinion. They do business with Wells Fargo, Avis, Budget, Choice hotels, and many others.

    • halothane says:

      @Mknzybsofh: I’d love a list of companies that sell their customer lists out to scams like this. I sort of expect sketchy behavior from companies that sell stuff like snuggies and aqua globes, but Budget and Avis is sort of surprising.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I received one that was from Pedi Paws, the dog nail grinder, also in the total of $8.25. I glanced at it and it looked legit to me. My wife was doing our bills and caught that it was a scam before we did anything with it.

  19. TC2COOL says:

    My mother got suckered into a membership with this “Great Fun” company when she ordered wrapping paper for a school fundraiser though Current. She was suckered with the promise to receive 10% off her order. They charged $14.95 a month for the better part of 7 months. You’ll forgive her for not noticing the charge, my father was dying; after he passed, she noticed the charge.

    This company is awful. I really hope these scummy practices are brought to light soon and stopped.

  20. Duckula22 says:

    Amazing how some companies still think bad reputation won’t spread fast enough. Now I know about this scam, and it took me a freakin’ second. Losers.

  21. KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8 says:

    I get these “checks” from my discover card all the time … we’ll give you $8 if you sign up for a $9.99/mo insurance program! woo!

    • bbb111 says:

      @KMan13 still wants a Pontiac G8:
      I get these “checks” from my discover card all the time … we’ll give you $8 if you sign up for a $9.99/mo insurance program! woo!

      I never get these from Discover, but I told them to remove me from all offers, convenience checks, co-marketing, etc. Once you do that, they honor that request. [Make sure you tell them you opt-out from all categories of marketing and promotion – there are often multiple opt-outs you have to do.]

      I also use the Discover “One Use” numbers that are only good at one merchant – if the merchant shares the number with another company, it will be declined. [If the “offer” is from the same company, then it will go through.]

      [Using Paypal also prevents future unrequested transactions. You might get a request for payment, but they cannot just take it.]

  22. Anonymous says:

    I ordered something from buy.com a few years ago and wasn’t paying attention to what the discounted check box actually meant. Suddenly I had a charge from “Great Fun” on my account. After reading up what I would supposedly get (sh*t I wouldn’t ever use) I called up to cancel it.

    The customer service guy I called started a scripted pitch as I tried to close it. As he babbled I got flustered and said, “Just cancel the g*d d*amn thing.”

    “You don’t have to swear at me sir.”

    “Well, stop giving me the hard sell!” And then the service was closed and my money refunded.

    These guys and Household Bank are a couple of things in my archive of things to avoid at all costs.

  23. bluewyvern says:

    I’ve made a couple bucks off Great Fun over the years by playing their check-cashing-and-canceling game, but it was always through solicitations sent by my credit card, not fake rebate checks. Yeesh.