Many consumers unaware of credit card benefits

April 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Your credit card could come with rights and benefits you may not even know about.

These benefits really are designed to protect the consumer. So, whether you use them now or 12 months from now, you should know about them.

"This charge on 12/27 of $149.48 was not authorized," Susan Graham says while looking over the bill she had been disputing for four months. "And, they made a charge of $22.04 on Jan. 26. That also was not authorized." She says her prescription drug company Medco has been automatically billing her for medication she's been receiving, but did not want. "It bothers me. I've asked them 10 times to remove my credit card information. I have not authorized these charges," she says.

Susan disputed the charges with her credit card company, Visa. Visa agreed to wipe out the charge, but Medco turned around and billed her directly. Joe Ridout of Consumer Action says Medco acted within its rights when it did that, but there's something consumers can still do to get their money back. "You should call your issuer and find out if you're entitled to return protection. Some Visa cards have it. Some do not. All American Express cards have this return protection. It's one of the hidden benefits that many consumers may not avail themselves of," he says.

Credit cards that offer return protection will refund your money for up to several hundred dollars on a disputed item when the retailer won't. Unfortunately for Susan, prescription drugs are exempt from this return protection. Medco, which has a D+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, told ABC7 Susan's prescriptions were automatically refilled and billed because she enrolled in its "worry-free refill and auto-charge programs." That's something Susan says she did not do. The lesson here is that consumers can protect themselves from similar auto-billing disputes.

"Some banks will let you set up a one-time credit card use. Citi will do this. Bank of America will do this. Some will not. American Express, Chase will not, but if you have a credit card that can use one-time use or virtual account number, that sometimes will prevent rogue charges from cropping up in the future," Ridout says.

Susan did not do this, but she did contact 7 On Your Side. Medco told ABC7 it acted "in accordance with their prescription drug plan." They said, "We reversed two of the charges," and "a refund check has been mailed." That was two weeks ago, but Sue says her refund of $170 has not yet been received. Medco says if necessary, it will cancel that check and reissue another one.

We'll let you know what happens. Medco, by the way, recently merged with Express Scripts.


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