Posted by: sunshack | October 18, 2012


There is a company that most folks have heard of, and many use for paying bills online. Of course these days, as it’s not possible to say anything about pretty much everything on the web without someone calling the police or a lawyer, lets call them Payment Friend.

Over the years I’ve used this company, buying auction goods, occasionally selling household stuff I’ve not needed. They promise that your money is safe with them. Their T&C’s are pretty grim, but they seem to have the market sewn up.

This year I have experienced two breaches of my account security at this company, and have needed to be quite active in protecting my own interests. The first hacking of an account I held with this co. occured much earlier this year. Payments, all identical amounts, were made from my account to several email addresses in Romania. I was able to phone my Bank and stop my Credit Card, and then phoned the company to advise them of the Fraud. This was an account outside the UK. They arranged a refund in 24 hours.

I closed the account, unhappy that they had allowed this to happen.

The second hacking happened last month, and was far more serious. Different account/bank/credit card/email address to last time. This time around, the thieves went to town buying iPhones on my account, and using my credit card to purchase Hotel Rooms. Using the co’s internal messaging system, I raised a complaint about the thefts straightaway, and received acknowledgement by email. I phoned my Bank, and they blocked my Card.

The fraud activity on my Payment Friend account continued unchecked, just how many iPhones can I person use? I raised another internal complaint. I tried to phone them, but gave up after spending over 9 minutes on hold, on a PAYG phone on an international call. Spent the time listening to badly recorded piano music.

They appear to work 9-5 Monday to Friday, unlike criminals.

Each time I saw activity on my account I changed my security details, but nothing seemed to stop the thieves. These purchases were supposed to have been on Ebay, but the Reference Numbers were false.

The Fraud activity continued on my Credit Card, away from the website, so the thieves had the whole Credit Card number, still, thanks to my bank, it was being declined. However the initial Fraud now showed on my card as a spend by me, I was not at all happy about this.

Still no action from Payment Friend, and now there was several hundred GBP of “purchases” showing on my account, so with the help of my Bank, the Direct Debit was blocked, preventing the company from emptying my Bank Account to pay the thieves.

My Bank tell me that Payment Friend might try and set up their own new Direct Debit on my Bank Account, and take the money I “owe”.

My Bank put in place measures to protect me. A few more emails from the co. showing some of my disputes, were being closed, with no basis for complaint! No-one from the co. had contacted me by email, or phone.

The co. then made several attempts to get the money from my Bank account, and then my Credit Card, and then put my “account” into the “red”, showing many hundreds of GBP paid to people I’ve never heard of.

I then received an invite to their online Customer Satisfaction Survey, at much the same time as their Debt Recovery Letter arrived, giving me advice on how to clear my Debt.

Lets just say that I was quite frank in my responses.

So, I try phoning them again. This time I’m in luck, but sadly the worker has a script and I get a lecture about changing my password regularly. I was really not impressed with this. He sounded as if he’d read the same piece 100 times that day.

Still, they did promise to put my Account back to where it was, and acknowledged that there was a problem.

Meanwhile, my Bank wanted to involve the Police, and I gave my approval.

After about a week, the Credit Card Fraud money was put back into my account, but not refunded to my Card. So, I had to clear up another of their failures, by paying off the fraud on my Card Bill, after transferring the money. My “purchases” and subsequent “debts” were removed from my account, what a relief!

I’ve now closed this account too.

My partner watched all of this mess and the stress it has caused, and promptly closed his account as well.

Do you have an account with them?