BBB: These diet companies making only wallets skinnier

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The Better Business Bureau is urging everyone to check their credit card statements after it received dozens of complaints that some weight loss companies have been charging people who were never even customers.

The BBB says so far, it has received complaints about the following companies: Diet Instructor MD, Health Leader MD, Slender Guide MD, Diet Leader MD and Lean Inspiration MD.

Consumers say they never signed up with the businesses or even visited their website. Most are reporting an unauthorized charge of $19.65, but some have reported lesser amounts, such as $17.64. And some of the complaints state they've been charged more than once by the different business names.

"I never heard of this company," Austin resident Blake Potter said. "The bank refunded the money after I reported it as fraud. I never heard anything from the company afterward. I'm 6'4" and 145 lbs. I have no need for a diet website."

The BBB says all five companies have an Austin address and have a separate corporate filing with the Texas Secretary of State, but they're all part of the same parent company, New Jersey-based WellnessWatchersMD.

The companies that have responded to the BBB's complaints said they'd refund affected consumers. They claim those people must have signed up after purchasing a health product or receiving a sales call. However, they never explained how consumers can avoid the charges from ever occurring.

BBB offers the following advice to avoid being billed for services you don't want:

  • Review your statements. Review credit card and bank statements for any unusual or questionable transactions. Contact the financial institution immediately if any are found. Be prepared with your credit card number and an explanation of when and how the charge might have occurred.

  • Investigate. Once you have the exact name of the company charging your bank account or credit card, check out its BBB Business Review to see if it has a pattern of similar billing complaints.

  • File a complaint. If you are being charged for services you didn't order, speak up. Visit bbb.org to file a complaint with BBB. Let the FTC know as well by filing a complaint at ftc.gov or by calling 877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

  • Dispute charges. Under federal law, charges made on a credit card can be disputed up to 60 days after the purchase.

  • Be wary online. Avoid giving your credit card and other sensitive information online without first researching the business.

For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org. For the latest news and information, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To check out a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.Find other news story topics by visiting our Press Release News Center.
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