Online Shoppers Beware

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

Shopping online has become one of America's favorite pass times.  We've all done it at one time or another.  Now, the Better Business Bureau wants you to be sure, the next time you do it, you know exactly who you're dealing with.

Trish Powell, with the Permian Basin Better Business Bureau says, "It's my understanding that its credit cards, debit cards and in some cases, check by phone."

If you've used any of these to make an online purchase recently, you definitely want to check your statement, "An online company, that sells a product and/or service, is allowing other companies to put pop-ups on their website.  If the consumer clicks on those pop-ups, whether they accept or decline the product or service being offered, their credit card or debit card or checking account information is being sold to this second and in some cases, third and fourth parties," Powell explained.

The Better Business Bureau has received almost 2,000 complaints in the last year from consumers who have fallen prey to these types of scams.  The company in question, Connecticut based, Affinion Group, also known as Trilegiant Corp.  As NewsWest 9 found out, this is not the first time they've pulled off this kind of operation.

"They initially were under investigation of some type, under one name and recently changed their name and started practicing business.  And it's not just the two names, apparently they do business under a number of different names."

But the question is, 'How is your information getting from one company to the next?'  This question even baffles the experts.  "I don't know because they are legitimate companies.   They're selling legitimate offers and services and products.  They've turned around and sold their information to someone they never gave their credit card number to," explains Powell.

She recommends, when you buy online, pay close attention to the website and what it looks like.  Also be very careful with pop-ups from unknown sites.

Texas is not one of the sixteen states whose Attorney Generals reached a multi-million dollar settlement with then, Trilegiant Corporation.  But Powell says, this was back in 2006, so there's still a chance that something could come up in the future.

The Better Business Bureau is still investigating.