I just had this revelation the other day when I was forced to call ShittyBank, err, I mean CitiBank. You see, they splashed up a cryptic error message when I tried to login to their web site and view my credit card balance. It claimed there was an error and that I should call.

I couldn't imagine what the error was. It had worked fine just a couple days before. So I called. Remarkably, I got a human within 10 seconds. But that's about the only good thing I can say about the experience.

In Derek style, here's an abridged version of our discussion. We pick up the discussion after she got my CC number and confirmed that the various charges from Asia were, in fact, mine. That got me wondering...

Me: I'll be travelling again in a few weeks (to India). Would it help if I told you in advance this time.

CSR: Yes, it would! Could I have your departure and return dates?

Me: Sure. I'll be leaving from SFO on date, flying to Frankfurt, and then staying in Bangalore until I return on date.

CSR: Great. Will you be travelling anywhere else during that time?

Me: Nope.

CSR: Okay, I've put the information in your file. Thanks! This doesn't mean that the problem won't happen again.

Me: What?!?

CSR: This won't prevent your card from being flagged as stolen or having fraudulent charges.

Me: Wait a minute... Why did I just give you even more personal information about me than you had before?

CSR: In case our fraud department manually reviews your account.

Me: Let me guess. They don't manually review every incident, do they?

CSR: Of course not. ShittyBank is a very big company.

Me: So we're having this discussion on the off chance that someone decides to look at my file after you've decided there's a problem.

CSR: Right.

Me: What are the odds of that happening?

CSR: I don't know.

Me: Just so I'm clear. I've verified my identity to you. I am me and have my credit card in hand. You'd probably increase my credit limit right now if I asked. But you won't take my word for the fact that charges made in India are very very likely to be mine?

CSR: That's correct, Mr. Zawodny.

Me: *click*

What I failed to ask is why their fraud detection waited nearly a week to do damned thing about any of this. As I said, I had no trouble a few days ago.

What prompted me to finally relay the details of this? I happened across Nelson's complaint's about American Express and realized how all these companies universally suck.

(Nelson is one of the many cool folks I met at Foo Camp. He hails form the land of colored balls.)

Posted by jzawodn at November 07, 2003 10:58 PM

Reader Comments
# Larry said:

Sounds like Citibank uses MySQL!

on November 8, 2003 12:28 AM
# Chris said:

You should call back and speak to a manager and demmanded that they remove the 'feature' for the duration of the trip.
They must be able to disable it for frequent flyers Etc. but make sure that this action does not disable any fraud insurance they offer.

For your own sake think about taking a spare card with you.

on November 8, 2003 01:18 AM
# Alden Bates said:

Nothing makes credit card companies as paranoid as the thought that they might lose money. I long for a cashless society, but not if it means relying on them...

on November 8, 2003 03:27 AM
# Charles said:

My Citi card got flagged too after I was over in Japan for 2 weeks. It could have been incredibly inconvenient because I was staying for 3 months, and that card was my sole source of cash transfer. But fortunately Citi called my house and confirmed I was indeed in Japan so they left the card unblocked. Oh well, at least they are doing something to cut down on fraud, even if it isn't very effective or even logical.
Hey BTW, did Citi charge you extra for yen transactions? I recall paying an extra 1% surcharge for transactions in yen. I don't know how they get away with it. At least the yen is cheap lately, under 110 lately.

on November 8, 2003 07:35 AM
# Courtney said:

It's not just overseas transactions. If you make unusual purchases of any kind (wrong type of purchases, unusually large purchase, several days of small non-typical purchases) their software notes it (no, they don't keep track of all of those purchases manually), the card company will halt use on the card until they've confirmed that the card owner is indeed making said purchases.

What the lady really meant is not that they wouldn't take your word for it, but that she doesn't have the ability to turn off the purchase tracking software for your card.

Frequent flyers, etc., frequently make overseas purchases, so it's not unusual for them, and therefore, won't trigger the card shutdown. My brother, for instance, lives in Germany, and all his purchases are therefore overseas - no problem for him. If I went to visit him for Christmas, and made some purchases, my card would be triggered for review.

What is unusual is the length of time that Citibank took to harass you. Generally, it's within 24 to 48 hours, the better to save them money.

on November 8, 2003 07:46 AM
# Craig said:

I've been having this problem off and on for a couple of years -- the first time it shut me down was when I was on a road trip and bought gas 3 times in one day -- then was stuck on the road with no functioning credit card. After that, was when I started my first company, and started making a few large purchases per week at Fry's. Clunk. But then, for about 4 years, despite all sorts of really crazy and completely unpredictable spending behavior (I don't think anyone in their cluster model has ever had the financial experiences I've enjoyed over the last 5 years), it was fine; they clearly had a system in place which maintained a low false positive rate. But now in the last year, I've had my credit card shut down 3 times, and not even for anything particularly unusual. The first time it was because I bought 2 airline tickets to Seattle (where I've been about 4-5 times per year for the last few years); second time was when I bought a single computer at the Apple Store in the town near where I live (again, I've made large purchases of consumer electronics regularly during the last few years); most recently, I don't even remeber what it was -- something like groceries in one town, then gas, then $500 on I forget what.
I'm fairly convinced from this anecdotal evidence that the software they're using has increased its false positive rate substantially in the last year or so; this clearly is a deliberate decision, probably based on some careful analysis they've done about how it'll affect their churn rate vs how much money they'll save from fraud. My personal opinion is that they've gone too far. By denying legitimate payments on a regular basis, I wouldn't be surprised if they're actually opening themselves up to something they might not have factored into their cost/benefit analysis when they raised the FP rate: class action lawsuit by people who've been embarrased/damaged/stuck because their cards were refused even though they had done nothing wrong. Not hard to imagine that once you crank the FP rate up high enough, some literally life-or-death purchase gets rejected, and the credit card company's facing a lawsuit from the estate...
Of course the most amusing thing about this being covered on Jeremy's blog? By far the worst of my credit cards about this (highest FP rate with 4/5 of the cases above) is my card co-branded by these monkeys.

on November 8, 2003 08:22 AM
# Pete said:

> (Nelson is one of the many cool folks I met at Foo Camp. He hails form the land of colored balls.)

Au contrare, he's another meatball liberal - "Dean - he's the only Democrat who has taken a strong position against Bush insanity."

on November 8, 2003 09:32 AM
# Donny said:

Actually the reason they are being so crazy about it is that if you were to charge back your charges in India, the merchant wouldn't have to eat the charges like you do in the US. Shittibank would have to eat the charges.

Getting a merchant account for a Visa or MC in the US is simple. But outside of the US there are completely different rules than in the US for getting a merchant account. Most merchants outside the US who accept Visa pay on average of 7-8% to accept a Visa card. This happens because if a charge back happens, the bank has to eat the bill.

ABout 2 years ago, I was in Mexico and the only credit card I brough with me wouldn't work. After calling them and bitching at them for a while, they told me that I had to call them within 30 minutes of making a charge and they would unlock the Foreign Country block. So instead I called Amex and had them overnight me a card. Problem solved.

on November 8, 2003 12:35 PM
# Tim W said:

Use Discover, and, if you want, list a cell phone as your primary phone number. If they flag your account for security purposes (which they WILL do, and I, personally, find that their thresholds are well-designed), they'll immediately call you on your listed primary phone number. If you're there, you can clear it up right away.

A few weeks ago I was buying a Pioneer DVR-57H (significantly more $$$ than my typical daily spending) at a Tweeter store. That purchase went through, but a subsequent purchase of some cables I needed was declined. I called my home voicemail, and sure enough, I had a message to call Discover. Called them up, confirmed the charges, and the security call center attendant waited on the phone for me to make sure the transaction went through after the hold was removed. Absolutely no problem, and great protection against fraud (they wouldn't have held me liable, even for that charge, if I said "no, it wasn't me", beyond $50).

I had the same thing happen when I bought a laptop in Portland during OSCON (my Dell shit the bed on me and they refused to service it at a hotel - I'll never buy from them again). Purchased the laptop, and since I've got a pretty good idea of Discover's algorithms, called my home VM - the VM from them was stamped 2 minutes after my purchase time. Called back, confirmed it was me, and never had a single decline. If I had my cell phone listed on my acount it would have been addressed even more immediately.

on November 8, 2003 10:46 PM
# wil said:

The only thing I'm surprised about here is how long it took them before they contacted you.

I was making a few online transactions with a credit card recently. Not huge amounts of money, but a number of large transactions over a small period of time.

A few *minutes* after I'd made my third transaction (about 30 minutes after my first) my house phone, my mobile and my work phone got buzzed, two of which took messages while I was on my mobile. I was amazed.

I was also extremly glad, as it only took them a 30 second phone call to explain what they were doing and I was on my way again. I was shocked they were so efficent, and pleased at the same time, as if someone had been doing fraudulent transactions on my card, they wouldn't have lasted very long.

on November 10, 2003 01:34 AM
# SIMON said:

"Use Discover..." Except that Discover is not accepted outside North America.

on November 10, 2003 07:49 AM
# Joe Mc Laughlin said:

With respect to your comments on citibank, I just wanted to post a warning for people who recieve this message in their email regarding an ongoing fraud attempt by spammers - If you recieve an email like this, please delete it, as it's a blatant scam.


on November 17, 2004 09:07 AM
# Heather said:

Came across this site as I searched for anyone out there with a website about how much Discover rots. For anyone that has believed the messages posted above about how great Discover is, let me give you the story from my side before you call them up and send them your cash.

I have been with Discover for seven years and never received more than $8 as my "winnings" for their silly cashback bonus award. This year I cleared off my card because I knew I had some serious spending to do for my wedding. Spent a couple thousand and out of nowhere I have $97 sitting in my cashback bonus, due to be paid to me in February. Great, right? Yeah, if they'd actually give it to me.

What they don't tell you about their company is that they can decide for any reason to not give you the cashback bonus you've spent all year earning. I just called and got the story that first, my account was overdue and so the cashback bonus went away. Then, before the account was brought back up to current by their standards the card was cancelled. So my $97 sits in someone at Discover's pocket instead of mine. Anyone care to know why I canceled the card? Well, on my honeymoon in Europe Discover called my home once a day at least for several days in a row, leaving automated messages about an "Urgent!" situation and how I should call them back. This got my house/dog-sitter in such a state of concern that she called me on my honeymoon. She had already called them and asked if they could tell her what the urgency was (she thought it was because I was using the card overseas (can't - no one takes Discover) and they were questioning some charges, which, like with everyone else, has happened more than once). They wouldn't tell her a thing other than I should call them immediately. When she got hold of me (again, let me stress, on my honeymoon!) I called them. The major urgency that required them calling my house every day? Well, my payment was due on the fourth and as of the seventh they decided they should start calling to remind me of it. I was angry and explained my current whereabouts to them, assured them they would have payment as soon as I got home in the next week, and would they please stop calling me and worrying the people at my house? She said she would note my account of the upcoming payment and there would be no problems. Guess who called my house again TWICE the next two days? Yep. I was so fed up at having to deal with them from overseas on what was supposed to be a once in a lifetime occasion that I canceled the card. Of course, why would they tell me that if I waited two months to cancel I could have $97 and that if I didn't it would disappear? Why would they bother to credit my account with $97 when I closed it since I had already "earned" the money by their own standards? No, that would be logical and ethical. Let's just keep the money ourselves and screw her - she's not a customer anymore anyway!

I will never recommend anyone I care about (even a tiny bit!) go with Discover. Oh yeah, and if you're not convinced yet, my percentage rate was 24.99% AND they have a two-month billing cycle interest rate which means this (as it was explained to me): If you put $10,000 on your account month one and pay it off, then charge $100 on your account month two and only pay $50 off, your interest being charged is for $10,100, not the $50 that remains unpaid.

How many more ways can they find to screw the little guy?

on December 28, 2004 12:52 PM
# Jeff said:

Credit card companies can be a bunch of liars.

Citicorp are the people behind Staples Credit Card. Staples is a large Office Store for those of you that do not have one in you area.

We tried buying something online (Staples.com) two months ago and they rejected the Staples Credit Card. I talked to the Customer Service :( and found out they were sending our bills to the wrong address. They told me they did not know how that could possilby happen and when was I going to pay the bill with the service charges and Fees on it?

Trying not to get upset I put my secretary on the job to find out what was happening. After a couple of calls on her part one of the customer service reps broke down and said there had been a computer error and a lot of people got their billing address sent to their old address.

But they said we had to pay the bill before they looked at taking off the finance charges and interest charges.

I took back the job of talking to Citicorp. I said I wanted to talk to a supervisor. I was told that there were no supervisor there but she would email one and have her call me. I said I would not be in the Office on Monday so please do not call me then.

The supervisor call on Monday, nobody was in the office. Tuesday I called again told them what happened, they apolgised and said a supervisor would call. A week and a half later no supervisor call, but I got a call from Citicorp collection demanding payment.

I had them fax me a copy of the bill - that's right I did not have a valid bill. I looked at it, it is wrong. Staples (Citicorp) has been double billing me and I expect many other people.

They give out discount coupons buy $100 online and get $30 off (or some such amounts). Instead of taking the $30 off they added it in. Instead of a $70 ($100 - $30 coupon) the bill was a $130.

I'm Waiting for a supervisor to call.?.?

If you use a Staples Credit card and you use one of their discount coupons check your invoice lines for "COUPON" and sku "000999999". If they are there you have probably been ripped off.

on February 16, 2005 02:42 PM
# catalin said:

who can give me Discover algorithms to try to atm

on April 26, 2005 06:01 PM
# Montana44 said:

Noticed that address changes are a common problem with card companies. Read your statements, never assume its the same month to month! www.ihatecreditcards.com is pretty good also.

on June 15, 2005 09:10 PM
# Citibank PhoneCall said:
on December 15, 2005 08:19 PM
# Tab said:

Credit Card Compinies Suck...
Had a 9% rate they raised it to 27% after going over my limit after having paid off a 5000.00 limit 6 times in full over a 1 1/2 time frame. The last time I paid it off they dropped my credit limit to 500.00 still @ 27% (Not that I was going to use it, but the thing is I was not aware of any of this). I had a truck repair for my business and needed the use of my credit limit and it was not there a blessing in disquise I am sure but it still really pisses me off.

Did I mention that Mortgage Compainies suck, Realtors bite ass, loan officers are scum bags,

Not that I have ever used a company like rent a center but I have seen how they screw people also.

Out of all of these the only financial scum bags I have respect for are the Pawn Shops at least you know what your dealing with.


on September 8, 2006 01:17 PM
# Bill said:

Basically, Same story here. My wife and I purchased a computer from Staples. We wanted to put it on a regualr charge card. Well the SOB at the store opened an accunt for Staples card which is through who : You Guessed It CitiBank.

Thinking the balance was on our regular credit card we was paying balances. Never knew the difference because our balance may go up $700 - $1,000 any given month.

Well CitiBank didn't send a statement until our So Called 6 Month no interest was up. Now they are showing their true faces.

We can't get any legitimate response from them. Talked with 3 women from CitiBank so far and all three have been total .....

on October 18, 2006 02:51 PM
# Susan said:

Hi All:
I will never use my Discover card again. It is the worst company for customer service I have ever seen. I just got ripped off by a carpet cleaning service called 3C's in Ft Worth TX. They did a horrible job and also ruined areas of my carpet due to their negligence. I attempted to dispute the matter with The tattoos of the survivors have come to symbolize the utter brutality and of the concentration camps and the attempt of the Nazis to dehumanize their victims.Discover and they rejected it. I have pictures and witnesses along with the fact that the guy never even entered one of the rooms he was to clean. I will never use Discover again. I am out 350.00 and no way to get my money back from the terrible 3C's carpet cleaning service.

on April 28, 2007 05:11 PM
# Renegade Republic said:

I Think there comes a time where persons of a like experiences should unite in a universal effort to make change for the things that they don't like. Banks, credit card companies, and many financial institutions are out to squeeze as much money out of you as they can. A lot of them operate under deceptive policies and terms. These are worded so, that you will have to assume what the meaning is. Remember deception always has something to hide. And what is hidden is how these companies make millions off of your inconveniences and mishapps.

The said part about it is that we allow them to do it. Banks and credit card companies steal money from us everyday. And our position not to take action against them allows them to continue to do these things over and over again. I like the fact how you guys have come together on this site to share your experiences. But I think you guys should go further. I think that you guys should find a bank or credit card company that will allow you to do exactly what you want to do. And patron them collectively as a whole. Then I would cancel or close my account with the other bank or cc company.

And to further this collectively you all should write a letter to the bank or cc company with all of your names on it and state that you all have closed your accounts and have chosen to do business with another institution because of these reasons. I would close the letter stating that we are also going to publish in our local newspapers across the country an article about our experience with your company and our decision to close our accounts with your company and also encourage others to do the same if they have had the same experiences.

When companies realize that we the people will not give up our power and will stand against them collectively as non-patrons then they will get the message that they have to change. They don't want the bad press. They spend millions of dollars to convince the public that they're a very good company and they dupe millions of people to do business with them. Which in return gives them a million chances to rob cheat and still from that customer base. Did you guys know that you may be charged an NSF fee when you have the funds in your account to cover the charges due to policy and date posting even with cash. So the bank may not have covered your transaction with their own money, but they will charge you a fee as if they did due to the wording of their terms and policies. So you are paying for your own transaction with your own money but the bank is charging you a fee as if you did not pay for your own transaction with your own money due to how the date the day your money is posted. Stealing!!! That is all that is! There are many little things like this that allow them to steal millions from us.

Don't get me wrong people NSF fees are legit when you don't have the money in the account. However that is not always the case when you are charged them. And the banks are so deceptive that they will rearrange transactions on your statements or even the bank printouts to make it look as if you are insufficient even though your really are not. Most major banks do this and people except it as gospel when it is anything but.

Smaller institutions are almost in all cases are easier to work with. I encourage all of you who have alike experiences to unite and fight together. A great and wise man that once fought against a great injustice said " . . . What affects one person directly, affects everyone indirectly."

on September 3, 2007 07:03 AM
# gordon corsie said:

Here is something everyone can do. Every time I receive an unsolicited mailing from a credit card company, I tear off the personal info part and shred it. Then use the return envelope and place the entire mailing in it and mail back to them.

The credit card co has to employ somebody to open the envelope, they get to deal with the paper contents and they have to pay for the postage. Cool huh?

on October 18, 2008 09:31 AM
# said:

I hate them genericly because they are like loan sharks. They put out a teaser rate to get as many people in debt as possible and they raised the interest rate so high that people are in so much debt they can't pay off easily. These credit card companies and banks should not get a cent of bailout money form us. Once I pay off my debt, I will send them the cut up cards. I hope more people will wake up and do the same. Credit card is no longer a convenience.

on February 14, 2009 09:50 PM
# said:

I went online to order checks on my Wells Fargo acct. It would not allow me to select one of my accounts on drop down menu so I called Harland check co. to order new checks. I wanted to leave address off checks so they told me I had to order from bank. Called my branch who told me I had to call 800 customer service. Called them and spoke with rep that took all my information. After she knew who I was and what I wanted without warning transferred my call to a new person. I told her I was done with the request with other person and to transfer me back. I didn't want to start all over again. She said she couldn't so I asked to speak with a super. Super came on and I told her what happened and was tired of being passed around just to order checks. She then told me I had to call check company. It told her I already did and they said I had to call bank. At this point I was very angry and so the Super said she could tell I was upset and she would put me on a 30sec timeout (click). I waited to find out who this 20 +/- year old person was putting a customer on timeout like a 4 year old. After she identified her first name and a number I told her that if this is WF policy it was horrible treating a customer this way and she put me on another timeout. I registered complaints on both service reps regarding their handling of the situation.

on July 9, 2009 03:02 PM
# werner deininger said:

if you are born and raised in the united states - you are already used to the policys of every bank in the US.
moving 2 USA (land of opportunities) has to be experienced.
leaving germany in 1989 i left behind a savingsaccount which paid 3.5 percent per month in interest and 1.5% on my regular checkingaccount (charges applied only in case of overdraft). so the first thing to do - was = opening an account in case of need of emergencymoney or credit (if u have a job in germany - u automaticly have credit for overdraft up to 3x the amount of ur earnings)
i only put 20.00 in the account since i had no income yet.
not using the account for the next 3 months, i was very surprised to receive a letter from bank of america the following month, stating "your account is overdrawn" - and i owed money to the bank.
believing there must be an error, i stormed the bank ready to give em a piece of my mind. to my surprise, my deposit didnt earn any interest for letting the bank work with it for over 3 months - contrary i owed overdraft charges and my dooo was no mooo. how is this possible? well - in the land of opportunities its an honor to own an account and be privileged to "deposit" for ur banks sake. see, if u keep ur hardearned money under your matress = you got nothing to show for, and it could be stolen any day, by mean guys which know exactly where u keep ur goods. but if u keep it in a bank, everyone can see: its the biggest, most expensive guarded building in town and well protected by at least 1 bankpresident, 1 vicepresident, 1 or 2 managers, 2 to 4 securityguards and a minimum of 3 to 6 tellers, not to mention the investmentassociates. So you see - as long as u bring "more money" there will be always "some money" left for you (just make sure you stay in good standing with your bankers to make sure, your account wont get closed on u).
any solution to this madness? yup - send any money you dont want to loose to me for safekeeping and if you dont need it back for only 1 month = we both make money and i m even able to pay u interest on ur money. how? every penny left in any account longer than 1 month earns interest on the interest, so u can ask for ur money back with the original interest and i still make money on the lenght of time the account showed substance. i wonder why american banks cant live on that if it works everywhere else. let me know what u think: werner deininger 6150 b north state street ukiah ca 95482 (dont know if i can leave my e-mail adress or if it will be errased. thanks for reading werner

on July 10, 2009 02:26 AM
# Nancy said:

Yesterday Wachovia took (stole) $412.95 from my bank account to pay a bill that had been already paid. Hubby's former employer recently paid off his truck as part of his severence pkg. So, I canceled my normal monthly payment. Now the bank says I have to show them evidence that this bill was paid by another means! I'm supposed to go begging back to hubby's former employer and ask them to give me a copy of the front and back of the check they sent to Chrysler that paid this accouint in full. Chysler has told the bank via a 3 way call with me that they want no more money from me, this account is paid in full, but the bank will not give me my money back! What the hell is this? I'm going to call the police and make a report of grand theft. What country are we living in when the bank rules over your bills? AAAAGGGHHHHH

on July 10, 2009 05:10 AM
# Clara said:

Let's do something about banks. What if we did a sort of boycott of one bank on a particular month and demanded they reduce their fees and interest rates and policies.

We could target bank of america one month. Everyone who is angry with them could limit using their debit card(take out cash instead) and credit card (use other cards) from that bank for as long as it takes for them to change their policy.

on August 18, 2009 11:54 AM
# stephanie said:

I hate banks. They all suck--they steal at every opportunity and not a single one can be trusted. Many took huge bailouts of taxpayer money and then turned around and screwed the very taxpayers who provided the money by charging new fees and raising credit card interest rates for no other reason than "everybody else is doing it and we have to stay profitable". Most banking is legalized theft and the politicians who legalized it have lobbying connections. Rioting is an American tradition dating back to Bacon's Rebellion. Short of that, nothing will change and they'll go right on screwing common people until there is nothing left to take.

on August 27, 2009 11:45 AM
# said:

I was sent a letter by my credit card company (Chase) saying that they are now raising my minimum payment from 2% of the balance to now 5% of the balance. So I used to pay on $19,371 in debt $387.00 a month, I now have a bill that I owe $946.00. This is how banks are NOW screwing people. Instead of raising the interest rate they are raising the amount I have due. I called the bank, which is Chase bank, and they said they sent a letter a month ago and that they will be happy to reduce the monthly payment but I have to go from a 2.99% and a 3.99% rate to a 7.99% rate until aug 2011 instead of until it is paid off. They also said they could not take away a late fee since I paid the normal amount I typically pay each month since I did not catch the increase right away. How can a typical person who is working or even out of work expect to go from paying $387 to $946 overnight. They are forcing us into accepting higher % rates.

on September 24, 2009 05:11 PM
# said:

I am not happy with banks. I don't like how banks,doctors, schools and others ask for our social security numbers.
I went to an ID theft seminar. A local congressman was there and said banks don't have to have our SS numbers.

I would like to start a coalition of citizens who would contact their senators and congressman and demand that banks,doctors and others stop asking for our SS numbers.
I have an idea for what they can do instead of getting our SS numbers.

on November 16, 2009 07:12 PM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.