Around Acadiana

Mar 27, 2013 11:57 AM

BBB recommends consumers rethink credit use with merchant surcharges

Buyers beware of a new fee on your shopping receipts. Retailers are now allowed to pass along to consumers the cost of processing credit cards. This is called "merchant surcharging" and can result in consumers being charged up to 4 percent on each transaction. Much like sales taxes, these charges can be automatically added to you bill. These charges can continue to add up and consumers will begin to think twice about how to pay their bill.
Why now?

Merchants have long been charged a processing fee by the credit card companies when consumers chose to charge their purchases. Previously, the fee could not be passed along to customers. It was in the price of the goods you were buying. However, as a result of litigation, merchants in the United States and its territories can pass that fee along directly to customers using credit cards (but not debit or prepaid cards).

What can consumers do?

» Use cash for smaller purchases. Some retailers may offer you a discount if you pay with cash.

» Look for notices about merchant surcharges; retailers are required to let you so you can decide beforehand if you want to pay with a credit card.

» Use a debit card with "bricks and mortar" establishments you know and trust. Find trustworthy businesses at

It is important to keep track of accounts, especially if there are more transactions than normal. That is when fraudulent ones may slip through.

The BBB, also, offers these tips to prevent unauthorized credit card charges:

» Keep documentation of all orders. After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by email. Save a copy of the webpage and any emails for future reference as well as any receipts obtained from brick and mortar stores.

» When shopping online, read the website's privacy policy to understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn't one posted, consider that a warning that your personal information may be sold to others.

» Look in the address box for the "s" in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the "lock" symbol before paying. Don't be fooled by spoofed sites that feature convincing security measures. If you have doubts about a site, right-click anywhere on the page and select "Properties." This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is "not encrypted."

The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Please contact the BBB at or (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.

The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.



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