Mysterious fee could cost you big bucks on your credit card bills

Better Call Behnken

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – Check your credit card statements, because you could be paying for a service you don’t want. It could cost you big time. 

A Lakeland man discovered he’s paid thousands of dollars in mysterious fees on two of his credit cards.

One of the cards is an Amazon credit card, and the other is a Sam’s credit card. They are both managed by Snychrony Bank. 

Chris Tlougan, of Winter Haven, says he didn’t notice the fees on his monthly statement on his Amazon card until this week. He found a charge of $166.

When he searched deeper, he discovered he has been enrolled in a card security program, managed by Synchrony Bank, since 2014. 

He was shocked when the bank offered him a refund of $4,037.04. 

Tlougan said he was curious and checked all of his other credit cards, most of which are Synchrony cards, and found one other, a Sam’s Club card with a similar charge for $92.80. He was given a full refund.

The service he was paying for is for a debt protection plan. Many credit cards offer this plan, much like insurance, but customers are supposed to opt-in to the plan, chosing the program when they open their credit card.

Tlougan says he did not choose the plan and did not even know the plan was an option. 

Debt protection works like this. You pay a fee each month, typically a percentage of your balance. The higher the balance, the higher the fee. Theoretically, if you become unemployed, your minimum payment will be covered for a certain period of time. Keep in mind, though, there could be many exclusions. 

Better Call Behnken found about a dozen credit card companies have been ordered by federal regulators in the past to give customers refunds.

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that some of these companies charged customers for this fee without their knowledge or enrolled consumers who would never actually be eligible to collect on this type of protection plan.

An Amazon spokeswoman told us she would have a spokeperson from Synchrony Bank..  call us to answer questions. By deadline, no one had called. 

A Synchrony spokesman sent this statement in an email:

“At Synchrony we take customer satisfaction very seriously. We are transparent in our credit and marketing policies which include the option for credit protection. To obtain this service, a customer must opt in and agree to participate in the program. If you can share the customer name we would be happy to do a thorough investigation to explore the his concerns.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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