Online Retailers Face Fraud Investigation - TheStreet

Online Retailers Face Fraud Investigation

Almost two dozen online retailers are being investigated for fraud by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
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(Online retail fraud article updated with Priceline.com comments.)

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

,

Staples

(SPLS)

and

GameStop

(GME) - Get Report

are among the 22 companies being investigated by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for online retail fraud.

Cuomo claims these retailers are linking consumers to discount promotions from companies like Webloyalty, Affinion/Trilegiant and Vertrue, which then end up charging unauthorized fees.

The attorney general's office said that when customers shop online with some retailers, they are often given the option to receive a discount or cash-back incentive offer as they complete their purchase. If they accept the offer, consumers are unknowingly directed to a Web page that is separate from the online retailer's site. Cuomo said customers are then often charged a monthly fee through their credit card as part of the membership.

Other retailers targeted include

Orbitz Worldwide

(OWW)

,

Avon

(AVP) - Get Report

,

Pizza Hut

(YUM) - Get Report

,

Expedia

(EXPE) - Get Report

and

Priceline.com

(PCLN)

.

Cuomo's office has already come to an agreement with online movie ticketer

Fandango

to permanently end sharing customers' credit and debit card information to discount program sellers

Priceline.com said it discontinued offering Affinion membership programs to its customers in November and is fully cooperating with the New York Attorney General's Office in connection with its investigation.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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