Can Canceling a Credit Card Stop Automatic Monthly Payments?

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Q. I canceled a credit card to stop a company from making auto-renewal charges I couldn’t get them to stop. I’ve heard that businesses can search for other credit cards in your name and charge that. Is that true?
— Debtor

A. Auto-renewal charges seem convenient, but when you want the charges to stop, some companies aren’t exactly responsive and helpful.

Canceling a card to avoid auto-renewals isn’t the answer. It may hurt your credit score, and the debt the company says you owe won’t simply vanish. (By regularly reviewing your credit, which you can do for free every month on Credit.com, you can see how active and closed accounts affect your credit scores.)

No business can simply charge a credit card – especially one having nothing to do with a debt – without the consent of a cardholder, said Adam Levin, co-founder of Credit.com and author of “Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves.”

Levin summarizes what the business can and can’t do.

“If you have an existing credit relationship with a business they can run a credit check on you and learn about other credit card relationships you have and your payment patterns and debt load,” Levin said.

Or, they can sue you and if they win, they can get a judgment.

“They can move to enforce the judgment in a variety of ways against your assets (lien, etc.), or your wages (garnishment – states have specific requirements and processes) but they cannot simply find another credit card and charge it,” he said.

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Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund

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