Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Word of Caution-Please Repost...EVERYWHERE

Since I am in a sharing, ranting, venting mood today I thought that I would also share a little word of caution to all of you that have or are starting your own small business. Maybe you only do craft shows but this is a very important:
I started my teeny little business almost a year ago and have taken things slow and tried to research to the best of my abilities. In September I was all set to do my very first craft show. I had worked hard creating things that I thought people would like and put together a booth that I thought was beautiful! (If you want to see my craft booth pictures from that show you can see them here and here.) I bought a cash register and I had signed up for a program that would allow me to use swipe credit cards on my phone and have the money directly deposited into my account. The week of the show I decided it would be a good time to try the card reading on my phone. Guess what...it did not work. I called the company only to be told that they did not have readers that were compatible with my phone even though they said it would work with my phone when I signed up. The confusion...the card read is compatible with the EVO but not the EVO Shift. Geesh, who knew there was a difference. Certainly not me. So, I panicked! I hurriedly found another program asked if they would be able to approve me before the show and then applied. I sent them all of my information! ALL OF MY INFORMATION! EVERYTHING! My name, address, SS#, copies of voided checks (so that they could direct deposit any money that I may make) etc. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. I signed the contract and went on my merry way. When I never heard back from them I did not think anything about it. I figured they did not want to provide such a small business with services and was not too upset. I never even gave it another thought, until yesterday. My husband checked our bank account and realized that there was a charge from Monday that was associated with my business. I rushed around looking through my paypal account, my website provider, and various other accounts that are in fact attached to my bank account. I also check all my email accounts looking for receipts or some sort of notification that I purchased something or something had renewed I was looking for anything that would explain the charge and found nothing. He headed to the bank and I got on the horn calling every place I could think of to see if I had missed something.
After hours of working through all of business accounts, and spending a large portion of my day on the phone with the electronic fraud department of our bank I realized what had happened. This company that I had submitted an application to so that I could accept credit cards during craft shows that never accepted me and never sent me any further communication was charging me. AND MONDAY WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME. The charges started in Oct. for $4.95 and we never did not notice. Then again in Nov. for $15, again we did not notice. But on Monday when they took $164 we noticed.
Here I am again in panic mode trying to contact the company. There is no published number for the company. I tried the "live chat" via their website only to have it go dead when I requested a phone number. Then when it came back live I asked for it again only to be told there was not one and that they could not help me unless I wanted to set up a new account. I called the my bank again and they gave me a the number that was associated with the charge only to be laughed at and told they had no idea what I was talking about nor did they have any affiliation with the company that had made the charges. They did give me another number to call which was an automated voice mail. I am terrified! TERRIFIED! I have filed a fraud claim with my bank and alerted the State Attorney Generals Office. I want you to protect yourself from this kind of fraud!
DO YOUR RESEARCH!
CHECK OUT BUSINESS WITH THE BBB OR DO AN INTERNET SEARCH ABOUT THEM BEFORE SENDING ANY INFORMATION (This would have saved my rear, just 2 minutes of a quick search on google or yahoo would have saved me)
DO YOUR RESEARCH!
PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION LIKE IT IS YOUR LIFE because it is!
SET UP A SEPARATE ACCOUNT FOR YOUR BUSINESS AND DO NOT LINK IT TO YOUR PERSONAL ACCOUNT.
LEARN FROM MY STUPIDITY!
LEARN FROM MY STUPIDITY!