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LETTER: The how to’s of scam artists

Letters to the Editor stock image

This is a summary of the last six months of fighting with Discover Card over a fraudulent $1,000 charge, which included a forged signature using DocuSign e-docs.

If you read no further, but have a serious complaint about your credit card, the only agency with any teeth is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This agency was created after the financial crisis of 2008 and is the regulating government body overseeing banks, credit cards and other financial institutions. There is a 60-day window for filing a dispute with your credit card, but you can file a complaint with the CFPB at any time.

I received a call from Ultimate Rental Getaways, LLC (URG) in September 2019 for a vacation package that sounded interesting. I gave them my credit card information after being told repeatedly that the deal would be completed after my interaction with their “legal team.” I was transferred, but no “legal team" actually existed. I listened to everything, including their instructions about some e-docs that would help protect me from identity theft.

After hanging up, I decided against purchasing the package. I called their number multiple times, but no one answered. I sent an email to them stating my decline of their offer and that I wouldn’t be signing their DocuSign e-docs. I received two calls within 12 hours from URG representatives to whom I reiterated my decline of the package and refusal to sign the DocuSign e-docs. Both repeated that the DocuSign e-docs were irrelevant except as a way to protect me from identity theft.

URG charged my card anyway.

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I opened four disputes with Discover, and all four were decided in URG’s favor. It was not until my complaint with the CFPB that Discover did the right thing.

What I learned:

  • Repeat business is the most important thing to both Discover and DocuSign. They would prefer to have the repeat business of even a scamming company than risk losing business.

  • Discover claims they are “legally obligated" to accept, at face value, whatever the merchant sends as a “contract,” regardless of its validity.

  • Arbitration for Discover is a “last option” for disputes, is claimed to be performed by a third party, unbiased outside organization but it’s really just another Discover group, or simply a stall technique.

  • They consider anyone to whom you give your card information to be “authorized” to charge your card and for whatever amount. It’s not Discover’s problem if they overcharge you.

  • DocuSign’s system has no integrity if the company using it has none.

  • It is as easy to forge a DocuSign contract as creating a new email.

  • DocuSign’s contracts are legally binding once signed, regardless of who signed.

  • DocuSign claims their information is encrypted, but three different customer support reps were able to tell me exactly what happened with this envelope (dates, times, who).

  • DocuSign’s customer support manager wrote to me saying that it is not their concern or responsibility to monitor how their paying customers use their system.

  • Don’t waste your time filing complaints with the Attorney General’s offices or with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Responses by companies are totally voluntary.

  • Do write a review using the BBB.

  • Do file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

  • Do file a police report, if appropriate, with local law enforcement.

  • Do file the complaint with the CFPB, the earlier the better.

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