Tag Archives: refund

Get your money back from a web scammer

Scammers are criminals who masquerade as legitimate businesses.  Be careful; they’re not.

You’ve tried to telephone and email the seller.  But the phone is disconnected, the emails bounce, or they never answer.  Or they make excuses and empty promises that delay you until their refund deadline has passed.

It’s dawned on you that they have your money and they aim to keep it.  So you’re going to fight them.  Good for you!  But expect them to do everything this side of the law, and what they think they can get away with on the other side, to make you give up.

Prepare for battle

  • Act and follow up quickly.  Every day that passes lessens your chance of getting a refund.
  • Beware.  They may try to trick you into delaying until you can’t get your money back from your credit card issuer, or the refund period date in their Terms and Conditions expires. One trick is fake shipment tracking numbers.  Another trick is a fake, official-looking notice that you’ve been credited with a refund.
  • Keep a dated list of each action you take and each response from the scammer.  Keep copies of all correspondence, and take notes during each phonecall.  You may need this information as evidence at some point.
  • Brace yourself.  This isn’t going to be a quick or easy process.  And despite everything you try, you may never get your money back.  if not, chalk it up to education; you’re less likely to get conned out of your life savings.
This notice lies; the customer did not receive a refund.

This notice lies; the customer did not receive a refund.

Have a strategy

To get your money back and avoid future problems, I suggest you follow the strategy shown in this chart.  In the following paragraphs I’ll explain the strategy in more detail.what to do when burned

1: Read the scam site’s Terms and Conditions (T&Cs).  Nearly all scam sites have T&Cs tucked away in some corner.  I’ve seen some that go to great lengths to hide them.  But omitting them is rare; I think some federal law requires them.  

Find the Terms and Conditions.

Find the Terms and Conditions.

You may have to work a bit to understand them.  In other posts, I’ve summarized scammer T&Cs.  Don’t go by my summaries at this point; do your own homework. What to look for:

  • Guarantee terms
  • Club membership, subscription, auto-ship, etc. terms
  • Cancellation terms
  • Refund terms
  • How to return products

If you see that you don’t qualify for a return or refund, don’t give up.  Scammer T&Cs are usually blatantly unfair.  That may give you leverage with the State Attorney General or Better Business Bureau.

Were you charged without ordering anything?

2: Monthly charges for a “discount club,” automatic product reorders (“auto-ship”) or other mysterious services show up in your statement.  They may seem to be (or may actually be) charges by companies you never heard of.

Once some scammers learn your credit card data, they’ll use it again and again.  How this can happen:

  • You order one item, and suppose you’re done with that company.
  • You only think about ordering an item.  You fill in your credit card data.  Then you change your mind, and leave the web page or close the browser tab.  But even tho you never click “Process” the web page sends your credit card data to the scammer anyway.
  • Oh no!  Your credit card has been hacked.  The scammer may have bought your data on the black market.

What to do:

  1. Try to contact the company.  Cancel the club membership, etc. and ask for a refund.
  2. If you get no response or they put you off, call your bank.  Ask them to reverse the credit card charge, block your credit card and issue you a new credit card.

How to reverse the charge: Call the bank’s Fraud Department.  Ask them to reverse the scammer’s charges.  The bank may initiate a dispute procedure with the scammer.  There’s a good chance that the scammer will let go of the money without a fight, figuring that going after other suckers is a better use of their time.

Some scammers include a term in their Terms Of Service that says they treat reversing the charge as theft.  Don’t be frightened by this term; remember that they’re the real thieves.  Besides, they aren’t going to bother suing you for the $100 or so that scammers typically steal.

How to block your credit card: Ask the Fraud Department to block your credit card (to stop the scammer from stealing even more).  This will also block all other outstanding and future transactions on the credit card.

Request a new credit card.  The scammer can’t steal from you if they don’t have your active credit card number.  You’ll have to move any scheduled or automatic payments that you’ve set up on your old card over to the new card yourself.  Yes, pain!  Removing a credit thief is worse than removing a tick.

Cancel your order

3: If you haven’t received the product, this is good; the bank that issued your credit card is more likely to agree to reverse the charge.  Now you have a choice to make:

  • Choice A (best strategy): Reverse the charge, then cancel the order.  Tell the scammer you’ve reversed the charge, so you don’t need a refund.  This method is the best choice for your interests.  But the bank may tell you to try to resolve your problem with the scammer first.  Here’s where your correspondence list and copies may be useful, as proof that you already made a good-faith effort to deal with the scammer.
  • Choice B: Cancel the order, then reverse the charge.  This method is risky.  One respondent told me that, upon receiving his cancellation request, the company shipped the product.  They told the bank that they’d shipped it a week before they actually had.  Then the bank refused to reverse the charge, reasoning that he’d received what he’d purchased.
  • Choice C: Cancel the order and hope that the scammer will refund your money.  This choice means you still trust the scammer; think about that before going on.

How to cancel the order: Notify the scammer that you are canceling your order.  If you can’t contact them quickly, don’t wait.  Send them a certified letter with return receipt, canceling the order.  (This is a service of the US Post Office.  If you or the seller are located in another country, you’ll need to research local postal services that are similar.)  This way, you’ll have proof of the date they received your cancellation request.  Refuse to accept any packages you receive from the company, and return them unopened.

Get a refund

4: If you received the product, return it per the T&C instructions (or if you can’t do that, just return it) and ask for a refund.  Don’t use it, not even once.  Don’t even open the package.  If you did use it, put all of its parts back in the original packaging and return it.  This way, the scammer can shrug you off and sell it to somebody else.  Choose to hope the scammer gives your money back, or to try to reverse the charge on your credit card (see above).

Keep alert

5: If you didn’t block your credit card and get a new one, watch your credit card account for more unauthorized charges, particularly $8 to $20 charges by companies you don’t recognize, for services you don’t remember ordering.  Keep in mind that you’re dealing with criminals, not a legitimate business.  If you merely complain to their “Customer Support” but keep your credit card active, they may steal again.  They may also sell your credit card data on the black market for other thieves to use.


Get help

If none of this is working for you, reach out for help.  The Federal Trade Commission has published an advisory, “How to report online shopping fraud.

Warn others

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  • Warn your friends.
  • Name-shame the company on forums and social media.  Another good outlet is PissedConsumer.com .
  • Blog about web scammers.  Link to other blogs about scamming, like this one.
  • Send me a message or reply.

Are you embarassed about your gullibility?  That’s just how the scammers want you to feel.  Be strong and stop others from falling into their trap.  Nobody is going to think less of you for saving them money and grief; there’s no credibility like experience.  

Sincerely: Good luck!

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To victims of the LUX HD450 phone lens scam

 

danger-theftAre you a victim of LUX HD450?  If so, I am truly sorry.

I’ve received hundreds of replies and comments about my posts like this one covering LUX HD450 phone lenses.  My posts warn people that the lenses are crummy, and that the company steals from buyers’ credit card accounts.  Still, among the replies are several that have mistaken me for the LUX HD450 company.  Here is how I’ve been answering them.

I am just a blogger and reviewer; I have no connection to the lens company. I only posted some articles about them. So I can’t do anything about your order. Sorry!

How to contact LUX HD450:
Lux HD450
2658 Del Mar Heights Rd #368
Del Mar, CA 92014 USA
Phone: 1-844-220-5101
International Returns Address:
PO Box 7574
Milton Keynes, MK119GQ, UK
Email: support@luxhd450.com
France: soutien@luxhd450.fr
Germany: kundendienst@luxhd450.de

My advice is:

  1. You can try calling the company.  But beware; they may try to trick you into waiting until you can’t get your money back from your credit card issuer.  They may tell you promises and lies, such as fake shipment tracking numbers.  
  2. Refuse to accept any packages you receive from the company, and return them unopened.
  3. Call your credit card issuer’s fraud department, and request that their charges be reversed and your card blocked. Request a new credit card.
  4. You’ll have to move any scheduled or automatic payments that you’ve set up on your old card over to the new card yourself.

I know from personal experience that changing credit cards is a huge nuisance. But I think this is the quickest, surest way to free yourself from a credit thief.  Some readers have also forced LUX HD450 to refund their money by complaining to the state attorney general or the Better Business Bureau.  The FTC has posted advice on how to report online fraud.

If you still want this type of lens, you can safely buy similar ones on Amazon. You’ll see a variety of products there; pay attention to the customer reviews, most of which are honest.

Here are some more detailed suggestions for getting your money back.

fireweed

I took this photo with an iPhone 6.

Now, a bit of straight talk about taking better pictures.  Putting different lenses on any camera can be fun. Keep in mind, tho, that you can’t make your phone into a better camera by clipping a lens to it.  A photographer could explain why, and probably tell you more than you wanted to know.  Put simply, that would be like making hamburger into prime rib by putting steak sauce on it.  The sauce may make the hamburger more fun to eat, but it’s still hamburger.

Photography is an art.  With a little effort and guidance, you can learn to do it well enough to enjoy yourself and create nice pictures that people will admire–even with just your phone.  As you learn more, a better camera can become a great tool.  But a better camera won’t by itself make you a better photographer.

Several other web scammers are following in LUX HD450’s path.  The above advice also applies to customers of HD360x and HDFX360.