My day got off to a rocky start with an e-mail and then a follow-up phone call from my credit card company, who had just identified a couple of fraudulent charges on my account. "Good Morning! Had breakfast yet? No? Well, first, you'd better take care of this." How's that for an appetite spoiler?
The card in question was a "Rewards" card that I have only used for online shopping (such as Amazon) or for on-going monthly charges (like the fees for my website.) It seems that several weeks ago, I answered a survey that purported to be from one of those major companies whose account I recognized. To show their "thanks" they then offered me one of several gifts--including a product I used regularly. So I made my choice, after which they informed me that they were required to charge for the mailing expenses, but that they would charge that to my account at the company sponsoring the survey. I thought it was tacky but agreed, since it was only a small amount.
That was my mistake -- the equivalent of answering that telephone survey that asks "Can you hear me all right?" When you say "yes," they record the answer and use it as acceptance for some other deal. Same process here, i gather, because this month, the "survey rewards" company charged my credit card for a $99.00 monthly membership fee. Fortunately the credit card company recognized what was going on. I ended up cancelling that card entirely, since the number and details were already in the hands of crooks. The credit card people took care of demanding refunds from the scammers (which they say have already come in) and notifying the various credit bureaus that the incident should not reflect on my credit.
Still, I have spend the entire morning contacting all the companies with whom I have used that card -- removing it from my accounts and adding a new, less-identifiable card to replace it. Sigh! I've also learned which companies are easy to work with (Apple, NYT, iTunes, Vistaprint, Amazon) and which ones are impossible (Verizon, I'm lookin' at you!)
So be warned once again. Those surveys with their "free gifts" may end up costing more that you planned.