Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Watch out fraudulant companies

I have been recently subject to victim of Travel Life Go Direct/Florida Direct/Lucid online fraudulant circle.

I recieved a vacation package offer early June from Florida Direct and enrolled myself in a 30 day trial. During the registration, they took my bank account information and sent me the details of vacation information which are operated by Travel Life Go Direct. They also offered me an optional phone service from Lucid. I agreed to try those as well.

But once I recieved the package in a week or so, I found those are not interesting. So I called Florida Direct at June 20 (approximately 2 weeks and still within the 30 day trial period) and cancelled my membership from them. Then I called the Travel Life Go Direct number and Lucid Phone service that I found in the papers mailed to me just in case to make sure I don't get any charge. I cancelled all those to make sure there will be no charge on my account.

Unfortunately within 2 days at June 22, I found one of those companies - Travel Life Go Direct / Florida Direct charged $149 via an electronic check from my CitiBank checking account. So I called Florida Direct and they gave me the number of Travel Life Go Direct to talk about the refund. Travel Life Go Direct customer service was fine with me during phone conversation and they told me to send the papers they gave me earlier with my signature in 2 of the pages so that they can refund me the money. I did so and followed up by phone call (providing my cancellation number) that they have recieved my papers in 1st week of July. They informed me that I will get a $149 refund check shorly via mail. But even after waiting a week as I did not recieve the refundcheck, I called them again and this time they confirmed me that I will recieve the mail by the end of July (and that time was around July 15). But the whole July finished and I did not recieve the refund. From last week of July I started calling them, and last one month whnever I call them I see that their customer service is facing problem and they will restore the services shortly. I have left voice message with my number and they never called me back. I have even email them without any response. So I talked to CitiBank customer service at 1-800 # to dispute the transaction and they suggested me walk through the local CitiBank branch in Fremont, California where I live. well I went there and they took my online fraudulant compaint to dispute the transaction. The day before yesterday, I recieved a mail from CitiBank that they can not help me in this situation. How come, I contacted them within the 60 days time limit period and provided all the information! While I called them yesterday again they suggested me to walk over to the local branch. I will walk tomorrow and I believe whol-heartedly that it's my bank's responsibility to protect me from such fraudulant sufferings. In the meantime see what "Federal Regulation E: Electronic Fund Transfers" talks about such situations -

"Regulation E provides a basic framework that establishes the rights, liabilities, and responsibilities of participants in electronic fund transfer systems such as automated teller machine transfers, telephone bill-payment services, point-of-sale (POS) terminal transfers in stores, and preauthorized transfers from or to a consumer's account (such as direct deposit and social security payments). The term "electronic fund transfer" (EFT) generally refers to a transaction initiated through an electronic terminal, telephone, computer, or magnetic tape that instructs a financial institution either to credit or to debit a consumer's asset account."

In such situations, my bank should reverse the transaction in my favor and catchup that company with their lawyer or bear the loss themselves. This is why we depend on our banks, do business with them and refer our good friends to do business with them. But unfortunately my bank (Citibank) refused to refund me the money as it was an electronic check.

Watch out and be aware of fraudulant companies!

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