By Joe Taylor Jr., CardRatings contributor
Updated, February 1, 2010
After months of scrutiny from Congressional investigators, a trio of online marketing companies has been targeted by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Webloyalty, Affinion, and Vertrue all offer subscription-based discount programs that generate new memberships from special ads placed on the final page of an e-commerce site's checkout process. According to investigators, many consumers mistake the ad for a retailer's coupon, unaware that their credit card
information has passed from the retailer to the marketing company.
Most credit card companies offer chargeback protection for cardholders who feel they have been signed up for subscription programs in error. However, investigators note that it can sometimes take months or years for some cardholders to spot the companies' small, routine transactions on crowded credit card statements. Publicity from Cuomo's investigation has already caused some retailers to remove themselves from the web marketing programs, while other partners now require customers to re-enter credit card data manually before confirming new subscriptions.