December 2017 Complaint Roundup: Square Scammers And iPayment Impostors?

What Are Other Merchants Saying?

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© Depositphotos – James Steidl

Here at CPO, we review every comment that we receive from our readers, and sometimes we see merchants mention a topic that isn’t covered in our reviews. To help you stay on top of the trends and issues in the credit card processing industry, we’ve gathered the following merchant complaints posted to CPO during November and December. If you would like to respond or add your thoughts to any of these comments, please follow the links to the original comments and reply to them directly, or leave a comment of your own below the appropriate company’s review.


Square Cash Users Report A Scammer

Phyllis’s November 15 comment on our Square Cash review states the following:

NO help with app. and concerns. After 3 days of e-mails with “buyer”, was asked to transfer MY cash into a “transport” business. Fortunately, I wasn’t foolish enough to do that. Tried to notify Square
Cash of this con-artist to no avail. His “name” is James Hester. I had a car listed at Cars.com Seller Beware! I deleted the app. and will NEVER use this service again!

Phyllis’s comment prompted the following comments in response:

I just had an email from James Hester saying he wanted to buy my car for his wife but out of town on business. I had advertised on car.com. And wants me to open a cash.me account for him to transfer money and then he will have his mover come pick it up and do paperwork on his behalf. I’m very reluctant. Can you tell me what your experience with him was?

I also was sent an email but with Autotrader.com by Scam Artist “James Hester”… Here is the return email from scammer:

Thanks for your response,Do you have extra keys? and When is the last
date you serviced it? are you the original owner, i need answers to my
question because I’m ready to pay but not cash in person because I’m
currently on a business trip and i am buying this vehicle as a
birthday surprise gift for my wife. and my only quickest payment
option from here is square cash, square cash is fast and secured, I
will send you payment using your square cash ID and you will sign in
to your account and move the money into your bank account, its very
easy, Go to cash.me and set up your square cash account in 2 min, get
back to me with your cashme ID when you are done, and i will process
the payment asap. I have a mover that will come for the pick up once
payment clears in your account and you have your cash. The mover will
handle the papers on my behalf. I’ll look forward to your response
with the the details below.

Your Cash.me ID:
Your Firm Asking Price :
Your Zip Code for Pick Up:

James.

I also was sent an email but with Autotrader.com by Scam Artist “James Hester”… Here is the return email from scammer:

Thanks for your response,Do you have extra keys? and When is the last
date you serviced it? are you the original owner, i need answers to my
question because I’m ready to pay but not cash in person because I’m
currently on a business trip and i am buying this vehicle as a
birthday surprise gift for my wife. and my only quickest payment
option from here is square cash, square cash is fast and secured, I
will send you payment using your square cash ID and you will sign in
to your account and move the money into your bank account, its very
easy, Go to cash.me and set up your square cash account in 2 min, get
back to me with your cashme ID when you are done, and i will process
the payment asap. I have a mover that will come for the pick up once
payment clears in your account and you have your cash. The mover will
handle the papers on my behalf. I’ll look forward to your response
with the the details below.

Your Cash.me ID:
Your Firm Asking Price :
Your Zip Code for Pick Up:

James.

I’m glad you posted this. I also have a car listed at cars.com, and I was contacted by James Hester as well. I was suspicious of his purchase methods, and I won’t be using this service to sell him the car!

DO NOT DO THIS…..OMG…..I listed my car on car.com. I received an email from a gentleman asking for more photos. I received a response after sending more photos, asking me verbatim what was said to Mario in November. DO NOT DO THIS….I had a funny feeling and decided to ask Google how safe this app is…..THANK YOU GOD.
Guys name is Michael Haas

While the details of this situation are a little unclear, it seems that someone going by the name of James Hester or Michael Haas is trying to persuade sellers on Cars.com and Autotrader.com to let him pay them via Square Cash. The sellers all express reservations about his communication style, buying process, and reliability. The possibility that he is using multiple names and refusing to meet sellers in person is certainly a red flag, and auto sellers are encouraged to be on the lookout for whatever this operation is trying to pull.

For its part, Square Cash is a legitimate cash transfer service offered by a real company. However, we have received a moderate-to-high volume of complaints that describe fraudulent payments, failed payments, fund holds, and difficulty resolving transaction errors through Square Cash. If you suspect that a buyer may be up to some shenanigans, then it is very likely that Square Cash’s policies and customer support will further complicate things for you.


iPayment Agents Posing As Heartland?

Aaron Offutt’s November 17 comment on our iPayment review states the following:

This is a PSA. Total transparency: I am a Sales Rep for Heartland Payment System. I have had two of my clients in the past week who have given me the same phone number of a Jessica Baxter with a phone number that is all over the internet as a number used by one of two reps at iPayment. They claim to be with Heartland, not the usual “your processor.” but naming Heartland specifically, asking to get statements or to point attention to the “Important information” section of a recent statement. It is a ploy used by numerous cold-calling processors, but going one step further to claim they are with Heartland, and she is NOT. Thankfully my merchants and I have a good enough relationship that they know to call me to check out the validity first.

Aaron is describing a new twist on the practice of “slamming,” in which agents pose as a merchant’s existing provider to trick them into signing a new contract with their company. In this case, Aaron claims that an iPayment sales agent is calling merchants and specifically claiming to be with Heartland rather than with iPayment. This is a strange approach because it would only work on merchants who are currently using Heartland. Is it possible that Jessica Baxter has somehow obtained a call list exclusively composed of merchants are processing through Heartland? Or is she just betting that Heartland is large enough to be serving the majority of merchants?

Despite the irrationality and inefficiency of this approach, merchants are advised to be wary of any caller posing as their current processor and advising them to “upgrade” or submit information for “rate savings.”


Speaking Of Heartland…

Matt Ideus’s December 1 comment on our Heartland Payment Systems review states the following:

Company is one big schister!! Hit most of us users with a bogus 299 fee today. Not 2.99 yup 299.00 fee. The reason was that we were supposed to get new reader that read chips. The hardware they provided to date was all we knew that we needed. Dont remember the last time they deposited the next business day either. My thought is company is broke and needing to do something soooo stupid as to run off that much business. Wouldnt allow them to move any money of mine. As was consensus amonst several otherr small businesses in my area. Supposedly there was something in one of my previous bills. Myself and 6 other business owners have no idea where. Would deffinately not do anything with this company!

Two other commenters followed up to state that they, too, were charged a $299 fee without being properly informed about it in advance. This charge appears to be punitive in nature, designed to prompt non-EMV-compliant merchants to upgrade their credit card processing equipment. Commenters state that it was disclosed on previous billing statements, which most merchants don’t bother to read, and was withdrawn without any notice.

If you are a Heartland merchant, you should check your statement to ensure that you have not been charged this fee. One commenter stated that Heartland offered to refund the fee if she bought EMV-compatible equipment from them, which may be the easiest way to recover your money. As with any other processor, you are advised to look over your statements each month to prevent fees from creeping in.


Login To See Contract?

Amanda’s December 10 comment on our First Choice Payments review states the following:

I suggest anybody to stay away from this company. I opened an account recently – just 10 days ago – and they keep asking for more copies of my ID papers, complaining that they are not in high resolution (I think 5MB is pretty high resolution!), or that I sent them a pdf, which is not true, I sent them jpg documents, and at this stage although I have sent other copies of my documents, both driving licence and passport, they keep leaving me waiting for a potential approval. This is nonsense. I cannot access my account as they blocked it for no reason, and I did not receive any email from them to explain this. We cannot contact them, except by email, but they are silent or keep saying the same things. I have studied photography and have a professional camera, so I know about lighting, high resolution, avoiding flares and so on! So now this company has copies of all my ID papers. Major security and confidentiality issue here! Plus we cannot learn their exact terms of services – how much costs the card, are there monthly fees and so on – because you have to log in your account to be able to know them. Which means that you cannot make a choice regarding these points BEFORE applying for an account. All this is nonsense and is dangerous. At the end of the day, the reality of the situation is that we send these people copies of documents that are highly confidential. What do they do with it? STAY AWAY FROM THEM! SCAM!

Frustratingly slow and complicated application processes are a hallmark of the industry, but an interesting quirk here is Amanda’s claim that “we cannot learn their exact terms of services – how much costs the card, are there monthly fees and so on – because you have to log in your account to be able to know them.” This would mark a radically different approach to disclosure from First Choice’s competitors, and a major step backwards in terms of fair business practices. It could be that Amanda simply isn’t aware of where else she can access her contract terms, but if it’s truly impossible to review your pricing and contract before you sign up with the company, then merchants should be skeptical of any prices they’ve been quoted by First Choice. In fact, we would not recommend signing up with any company that utilized this policy.


When A Mix-Up Becomes A Breach

C. Livingston’s December 12 comment on our PhoneSwipe review states the following:

We have never ever used this company. We have our own company. Yet this company is sending us information on customers we have never had. We are likely receiving card info from another company which is a giant security breach. Then, we received a reader we never ordered. I would not trust a company with security this lax, especially when they want to infiltrate your business.

To be clear, we have no hard evidence that PhoneSwipe has exposed sensitive consumer information in this case. It is more likely that another merchant has provided inaccurate information to PhoneSwipe, resulting in the company sending customer analytics or insights to C. Livingston. The fact that PhoneSwipe sent this commenter a card reader further suggests that there is a mix-up in the company’s contact information or that C. Livingston actually did sign up for PhoneSwipe without remembering it.

However, if PhoneSwipe’s system is sending out sensitive customer data to the wrong merchants, that would be a cause for concern. Processors have paid out massive settlements for far less serious infringements. If you are a PhoneSwipe merchant or someone who shops at a PhoneSwipe merchant, you may want to contact the company about this issue.


Heads-Up About A “D” Provider

John’s November 29 comment on our Talus Payments review states the following:

They are about to morph into their next DBA, Celerus Payments. They are already seeing too many negative reviews of Talus and are ready to jump. The article should be updated to reflect this so that potential victims are aware.

Talus Payments has a “D” rating on CPO and is the latest in a long lineage of poorly rated providers that originally stemmed from the now-defunct Crescent Processing Company. We have already published a review of Celerus Payments, and this comment seems to suggest that more merchants are going to be hearing from Celerus in the near future. As it has done before, this organization is likely to already be launching new, unheard-of DBAs that it can jump to once Celerus begins to receive negative reviews. If you learn the name of any new ventures launched by this company, we’d love to hear about it. Otherwise, remain vigilant and be sure that you research any company that contacts you.

Have you had an experience that you would like to share with these commenters? Reply to their comments and you may be featured in next month’s complaint roundup!

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Phillip Parker
Phillip Parker
Credit Card Processing
9 min read
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