When companies engage in illegal subscription auto renewal and recurring payment schemes, a deceptive billing practices attorney can help you fight back.
Each year, more and more purchases are made online, where the fine print and opt-in/opt-out buttons create confusion for buyers. In some cases the confusion is intentional, and could lead to devastating financial losses. If you were misled, signed up for auto-renewal billing you did not want, or have issues with persistent recurring charges, a lawyer may be able to help.
Consumer protection attorneys can help with cases of subscription auto-renewal schemes, deceptive billing, and other forms of unlawful recurring charges or fraud.
Subscription auto-renewal billing fraud is not new, but the practice is still largely possible due to the lack of consumer protection laws on the books. If you have been a victim of deceptive billing fraud due to illegal recurring payments, unauthorized charges, or unlawful auto-renewals, we can help.
The Lyon Firm is headquartered in Cinncinati, OH, where we investigate far-reaching class action claims related to consumer fraud. Our founder Joe Lyon is a class action consumer protection attorney with extensive experience in filing subscription billing fraud and automatic renewal complaints on behalf of plaintiffs nationwide.
Speak with us right away at (513) 381-2333, or by filling out our online contact form to schedule an appointment. The sooner you have professional representation on your side, the faster we can close this case, and recover what was unfairly taken from you. Additionally, your case could help alert others that they are being robbed, and have the ability to stop the fraud and gain justice.
What Can a Deceptive Billing Lawsuit Cover?
“Deceptive billing” or fraudulent billing is a broad term which includes auto-renewal schemes. Essentially, it is the fraudulent act of charging or invoicing funds from a person or entity without showing their obligation to pay. Auto-renewal is a form of deceptive billing that is carried out by algorithms and machines with little-to-no direct human oversight.
Deceptive billing, auto-renewal, and financial fraud settlements or verdicts could cover:
- Economic Damages: A reimbursement of the money you were charged under the “out-of pocket” rule, which means restoring a defrauded person the financial position they were in before the fraud occurred. Other monetary losses may be covered as well, such as if you lost a business or loan opportunity as a result of the incident.
- Mental Anguish Damages: Fraudulent or unauthorized billing activity causes enormous amounts of stress if it means a person cannot cover necessary expenses (like rent). A person could also reasonably assume they were the victim of identity theft, and spend time and effort trying to fix their accounts. The psychological impact of fraud also deserves compensation.
- Attorneys’ Fees: A settlement or verdict can explicitly cover your attorneys’ fees in addition to your damages, so they do not come out of your share of the award.
An experienced financial fraud attorney will work to see that you’re compensated both economically and emotionally. Our goal at The Lyon Firm is to see our clients are not only refunded their money, but also made whole after the ordeal of being defrauded. Call us today at (513) 381-2333 to discuss your specific situation, and what you need to make it right again.
Auto-renewal and deceptive billing cases often involve a vast amount of customers or consumers, and could lead to a class-action lawsuit. Your choice to pursue your case could help alert others to fraud, and prompt a class-action suit that brings positive industry-wide change. See the FAQs for examples of influence class-action victories.
How Do I Fight Automatic Renewal?
Here are the first steps you can take to stop the bleeding of funds if you’ve discovered recurring auto-renewal charges on your accounts:
- Opt out: If you can log into an account, contact customer service support, or find your original contact, you may be able to cancel the renewal process right away.
- Stop payment: If you cannot access your account or get in touch with the entity charging you, contact your bank or credit union to put a “stop payment” order on your account. The bank may charge a fee, but it’s important to halt the access to your account as soon as possible. The cost of this fee can be part of your damages in a later lawsuit, so we advise keeping a record of it.
- Contact an attorney: Once your accounts are protected, a consumer fraud lawyer can help you with everything that follows, including formally disputing charges, sending cease and desist letters to the company charging you, and filing a claim for your losses.
Your first priority is to stop or block the charges so they cannot take any more of your hard-earned money. After that, you have legal options to recoup your losses and hold the individual or company responsible for their fraudulent or deceptive activity.
Can I Dispute a Charge for Auto-Renewal?
Yes, you can dispute an auto-renewal charge. You can do so by:
An attorney can help provide guidance throughout each of the above steps. Another option is to look into subscription management apps that help you identify and cancel unused or unauthorized subscriptions before they drain your bank account.
Businesses and companies are not above the law. If you’ve been taken advantage of by unfair or fraudulent practices, reach out to The Lyon Firm at (513) 381-2333. We will stand by your side to help assert your rights and recover what you’re owed.
What Are the Four Areas of Unethical Billing Practices?
Automatic renewals of online services, apps, and other subscriptions are extremely commonplace. While many find auto-billing convenient for specific recurring payments like loan payments or utility bills to avoid late fees or service interruptions, some companies have a business model that is inherently fraudulent.
This is not a new phenomenon. Here are four areas of unethical billing practices that span multiple industries:
- “No-risk” or “no payment” free trial offers may intentionally fail to clearly disclose automatic renewal charges. The information about recurring payments is often hidden in fine print, or extorted with the use of pre-checked boxes for online transactions. That means consumers who may intend for a one-time purchase or free trial promotion are suddenly facing months or a full year of unauthorized charges.
- Unlawful cancellation processes are also very common, meaning it’s easy to sign up, but unfairly difficult or even impossible to cancel. Think of cable subscriptions and gym memberships that require in-person cancellation even if you signed up online or by phone.
- Phantom charges that bill for services that were never actually rendered. These are seen in areas like medical billing, credit card offers, airline bookings, hotel services, and vehicle maintenance. Charges for items you did not use in the rooms where you stayed, or fees for insurance coverages or invisible treatments you did not request, need, or actually receive.
- Upselling or upcoding (medical), which is the practice of upgrading the charge on your bill while still delivering the lower-grade service or item. So-called “deluxe” versions, boosted ingredients, or a larger-sized package that contains the same units of a product as the smaller size.
Auto-renewals are just one aspect of the deceptive billing practices that plague consumers. Call our office at (513) 381-2333 so we can thoroughly investigate your case and identify the full extent of your situation.
If you identify a deceptive billing issue, you’re likely not the first person impacted. Contact an attorney to discuss your options for justice — by doing so, you’re already helping to spread the word and put a stop to unfair practices.
Contact an Experienced Financial Fraud Attorney
Many states and consumer oversight agencies have agreed that companies which automatically bill customers for products or services on a recurring basis must clearly disclose the terms of the offer. They must present automatic renewal terms in a clear and conspicuous manner, obtain consumers’ consent, and provide customers with a simple cancellation mechanism.
Unfortunately, the regulatory powers behind these rules are not as strong as they should be, and companies hope to slip through the cracks with your money. A consumer fraud lawsuit can hold them accountable.
At The Lyon Firm, we have decades of experience working to protect consumers from fraud, from cybersecurity data breaches to defective medical devices. Our case results include:
- $9.25 million for an invasion of privacy (TCPA) class action
- $4.2 million for a data breach class action
- $4 million for a deceptive sales practice class action.
A consumer’s consent to automatic renewal terms is required. The cancellation policy must be clear and easy, and the company must provide a toll-free telephone number, e-mail address, and postal address. If it is not, and you’ve been unfairly charged, you have rights under the law.
The Lyon Firm stands ready to help. Contact our offices directly by calling (513) 381-2333, or fill out our online contact form. Please provide any details you’re comfortable sharing, or schedule an in-personnappointment at your earliest convenience. You do not have to tolerate fraudulent behavior — empower us to work on your behalf, and seek the compensation you deserve.
Auto-Renewal & Deceptive Billing Practices FAQ