Receiving telemarketing calls can be annoying, but receiving unsolicited calls from non-human callers is even worse.
And, according to this recent report from MSNBC, one scam currently plaguing the U.S. and Canada could cost you significant money.
The Promise: Lower Interest Rates
Apparently, these calls work by alerting you that nothing is wrong with your credit card account, but that it is “urgent” or “imperative” that you contact the calling company to lower your credit card interest rates.
Here’s how you can tell calls like this are bogus:
- Company not identified: The automated calls reportedly do not include the name of the company supposedly offering to help you lower your rates. Red flag number one – any legitimate company wouldn’t hide its identity.
- Calls at strange hours: The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has outlined strict rules for telemarketers, and one is that they cannot call after 9 pm local time. Any unsolicited business calls later than this are illegal and should be reported.
- Demands for personal information: Legitimate companies do not require you to give your Social Security number or credit card account information over the phone. If anyone calls and asks for this sort of info, hang up – you have no way of knowing who’s on the other end of the line.
The Catch: Upfront Fees and No Real Services
Many consumers have already lost money to this type of credit card scam – and it’s no wonder, considering what it offers.
Many Americans could benefit from lowered interest rates on their credit cards, so the offer appeals to unsuspecting victims. Here’s how the scam works:
- Upfront fees for "services": The companies charge fees in the ballpark of several hundred dollars, insisting that such fees are fully refundable if the consumer isn’t happy with results.
- Consumer pays and loses: Unless you have a promise in writing that you’ll get your money back, you can expect to part with it forever. And, according to sources, some unfortunate individuals already have.
- No work done: Unfortunately, the company isn’t likely to negotiate with your card issuers at all, meaning that you’ll have paid them for nothing. And, even if they do “negotiate,” they’re likely to do no more than call and ask for a lower rate – which you can and should do yourself (for free!).
What to Do if You’re Victimized by a Credit Card Scam
If you receive an automated call offering you lowered interest rates on your credit cards, take action by filing a complaint with the FTC at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
Reports show that the three companies behind these calls (CSTR Solutions, Genesis Capital Management and Mutual Consolidated Savings) all have failing ratings from the Better Business Bureau.
And the FTC apparently knows about the scams, and has recently prosecuted other companies for similar violations of consumer protection laws.
Similar Scams Have Led to Some Folks Filing Bankruptcy
Unfortunately, some scams have led to people going broke and filing bankruptcy to get out of that "scam debt".
If you've been victimized by a scam and are considering filing bankruptcy, visit www.TotalBankruptcy.com to connect with a sponsoring bankruptcy lawyer for free.