Senate committee takes on Web-based 'loyalty' marketing companies

Nobody wants to get nailed with unexpected credit card charges in this economy. Who's got money to waste?

If you've ever been startled by tiny little charges appearing on your monthly statement that contain the words "rewards," or "club" you swear you didn't pay for, there's a fairly good chance you've done business with Webloyalty, Vertrue or Affinion, though you didn't know it at the time. A boatload of consumers are with you.

And that's why these three companies, all privately owned, half an hour drive from each other on I-95 in Stamford and Norwalk, Conn., recently found themselves the subject of an investigation by the Senate Commerce Committee. From what I've heard, they haven't been particularly cooperative so far.