Well, as we discussed here before, the credit report from FreeCreditReport.com isn’t free and as you might guess, the PrivacyGuard offer has plenty of strings attached, too.
Even though I’ve only rented from Budget once, they were nice enough to sell share my personal contact information with PrivacyGuard.
Here’s the classic cash-the-check-and-you’ll-sign-up-for-our-overpriced-service-indefinitely-if-you-aren’t-paying-attention offers they sent me recently:
Here’s a key section from the fine print on the back of the check:
By cashing this check I agree to a thirty-day trial offer in PrivacyGuard. I understand that the $64.99 semi-annual membership fee will be automatically billed to the card I have on file with Budget unless I cancel my membership by calling 1-866-622-5186 before the end of the trial period. My membership will be automatically renewed and I will also be billed every six month period thereafter at $74.99 or the then-current fee unless I call to cancel for a refund of the unused portion of the current fee.
So, cash the check, and here’s what happens:
- You are automatically signing up for their service
- You are giving Budget permission to pass your credit card info to PrivacyGuard
- You will pay $64.99 immediately (kiss your $10 goodbye)
- You are agreeing to pay $74.99 or the then current fee (it could be any number) from that point forward
Oh, the irony: Budget has sold their customers personal information to a company marketing a product that’s supposed to protect—that’s right—personal information.
When I see offers like these, I think about my dearly-departed grandparents. Would they have been fooled by an official-looking check coming from the “Processing Center.”
I don’t know if I’d go so far as calling this marketing practice predatory, but it’s clearly deceptive.
All that being said, offers like this have been around for years and won’t go away.
They work. It fools some of the people some of the time.
What’s more, people that read the fine print cash the checks as well, thinking they can game the system. Sometimes they do, but often they forget. The charges get lost in their credit card statement, and three years later they are still paying.
It happens all the time. They’re counting on it.
So, is the PrivacyGuard offer responsible or not? How about Budget selling customer data?
Comment below to weigh in.