Reader Aaron writes in to complain about a “scam” that he can’t believe is legal. Many of you know about this little marketing tactic, and we’ve written about it before, but some of you probably do not.
Here’s how it works. Someone sends you a check. You think, “Hot Damn, I have a check.” You cash the check. You do not notice that the check says, “by cashing this check you agree to enroll in some sort of program that costs hundreds of dollars a year.”
You lose hundreds of dollars a year.
It’s a fairly common, but misleading bit of marketing. We hate it. Here’s Aaron’s letter:
I don’t know if you guys have already reported on this but I couldn’t find anything searching the archives and this just infuriated me.
So I have a chase credit card I use as my backup card. I got a standard looking rebate check mail from them the other day. (The one where you rip off the sides and there is a check inside) Inside was a check for $9.25. I found this weird because I hadn’t had any transactions with them for some time. I went looking for the catch and had to find it in very very small print under the amount. Apparently, by cashing this check I was signing up for some program called Just for Me. After mining deep into the writing on the back I found out that by “signing up for Just For Me” I was agreeing to a 59.99 semiannual charge for account membership. Also on the back the largest writing says 2% Back on Your Credit Card Purchases … almost implying that this is the reason the check was cut. There’s lots of other junk in this offer as well but the thing that struck me was how authentic this check looked and how easy it would be for someone to cash this thinking it was a rebate check.
I’m canceling my account today, but I wanted to let you guys know about this scam. It baffles my mind that this is legal.