These Companies Gave Away Your Credit Card Number!

Question:

What do the following companies have in common?

1-800-flowers Expedia Intelius Shutterfly
Buy.com fandango MovieTickets.com Travelocity
Classmates.com FTD Orbitz USAirways
ColumbiaHouse Hotwire
Priceline VistaPrint
Confi-Check InQ RedcastsUSA Hotels.com

Answer:

They’ve all made $10 to $30 million by handing over your credit card information!!

In emails released by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation the companies have been receiving customer complaints for years that they were tricked into signing up for a service they didn’t want.  What really boggles my mind is that these major, trusted, companies ever, EVER, thought it was a good idea to hand over credit card and financial information to a third party advertiser! What in the world were these CEO’s thinking?

Unfortunetly, the list above is only of the companies that made over $10 million from this scheme.  Over 450 web companies have participated in these schemes.  Many for 5 years or more.  Avon, Hertz, Pizza Hut, Tier Direct, Victoria’s Secret, and Yahoo all made between $1 and $10 million by handing over your credit card information to a third party advertiser.

Trust on the internet is a difficult thing to gain and now that I know how little regard these companies have for my personal information, how can I trust them?  I have no choice but to boycott their sites.

It pains me because I have used Orbitz to plan many vacations and have purchased many movie tickets on Fandango, as recently as last weekend.  I’ve seen the pop-up ads but have never signed up for the offers, although, I have been tempted once or twice by getting a free movie ticket or discounts on my next hotel stay.  I have already closed any accounts I had with these services and I encourage you to do the same.

To learn more about how this scheme works I have linked to PDFs provided by the U.S. Senate Committee’s investigative committee.

pdf 11.16.09 Exhibits of Staff Report

pdf 11.16.09 STAFF REPORT

pdf Representative Documents Part I

pdf Representative Documents Part II

pdf Representative Documents Part III

Information Week has a good article on the deceptive advertising.  I also would encourage you to check out the official website of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation.