What started as a $60 deal on carpet cleaning ended with $30,000 in fraudulent charges on a Florida woman’s stolen credit card, many of which funded a wedding in Miami.
The woman, unnamed in a local media report, had purchased a voucher for carpet cleaning from the daily deals site Groupon, but on the day of the scheduled cleaning, she said someone showed up and told her she owed sales tax Groupon had forgotten to charge.
She called the carpet cleaning company and paid with her credit card. Shortly after that, she started noticing other charges from the company. On her next bill, she saw transactions for airfare to Miami, tuxedo rental and a $15,000 yacht rental used for a wedding.
As required by consumer protection laws, the credit card company did not hold her accountable for the charges, but the woman said she is in a lawsuit with the yacht company, which wants payment for the wedding it hosted.
“The Truth in Lending Act is pretty clear in the case of the consumer’s liability for fraudulent charges,” says Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com, commenting in general about credit card theft. “They can’t blame the consumer here.”
To look for suspicious charges and other signs of identity theft, people should regularly check their bank statements, pull their credit reports (which can be obtained once a year for free) and monitor their credit scores using a free tool like Credit.com’s Credit Report Card.
The woman had reported to her card issuer that her information was stolen, which Detweiler says should always be a high priority in order to minimize the hassle of straightening everything out.
“I do think it is a good warning for small businesses and for merchants,” Detweiler said. “In certain cases merchants end up picking up the tab, so merchants have to make sure they are screening for fraud, or they could end up losing out.”
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