Proposed Law Targets Repeat Credit Card Charges
Lawmakers hope a new bill could help consumers eliminate recurring credit card charges after signing up for "free trials" or other special marketing programs. The "Restore Online Shopper's Confidence Act" targets companies that use aggressive sales tactics to market monthly memberships or subscriptions, then make it difficult for consumers to cancel or dispute their charges.

West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced the legislation, even after major credit card issuers took action to deter "pass back" transactions between online merchants and third-party marketing companies. The bill prohibits marketing companies from collecting consumer information except from consumers themselves.

Investigators discovered that three major online marketing companies trained customer service teams to refuse credit card refunds unless subscribers used "magic words" like "Attorney General" or "Better Business Bureau" when making complaints. Consumers can always dispute credit card charges that appear on their statements, but the inconvenience of dealing with repeated charges prompted lawmakers to pursue more formal action.

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Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.