Millions of Americans receive a steady string of automated telephone calls from “Rachel” at Cardholder Services, who claims your “credit card interest rates may increase” or wants to help you “lower your credit card rates.” The Better Business Bureau warns consumers these robocalls often come from criminals who are trying to obtain your credit card information in order to use it for their own criminal enterprise.
Calls can go to home numbers and cell phone numbers. If you press “1″ as instructed to get a person - you are connected with someone who wants to ask questions about your credit cards. After the representative verifies the consumer’s name, phone and address, the representative then asks for the consumer’s credit card number. “Savvy consumer know if this was truly was a call from their credit card company, the representative would already have their credit card number on file,” said David Polino, Better Business Bureau President. “We would like everyone who receives these calls to do as these savvy consumers do – hang up! These calls continue because they’re profitable for con artists. It’s important for consumers to know that most robo callers will hang up when consumers ask them questions.”
BBB warns these kinds of calls generally begin with recorded messages that include statements like: “There is a problem with your account,” or “Your account is in good standing however it is urgent that you contact us concerning your eligibility for lowering your interest” or, “This is our final attempt to reach you since you’ve not responded to our other calls to discuss your credit card debt.”
Automated messages invariably do not include the name of the company, but may claim to be with Card Services or Card Holder Services in an attempt to dupe consumers into thinking their credit card company was contacting them. If consumers are caught by a “live operator” they would likely hear a sales pitch where representative ask for credit card numbers and claim they can lower interest rates or they can help to prevent an interest rate hike.
BBB warns consumers against these traps and reminds them that many credit card companies will negotiate better rates for consumers who meet their criteria if they contact them on their own. Unfortunately some consumers report to the BBB they’ve paid hundreds of dollars and in some cases over $1,000 – to have the ‘credit card firm’ contact their credit card company and negotiate lower rates. Consumers simply don’t need to pay any company a thousand dollars to negotiate lower rates on their behalf.
BBB offers the following advice for consumers who receive calls from companies offering to lower their interest rate:
- Never give personal information, including SocialSecurity, bank or credit card numbers, over the phone to an unknowntelemarketer. Always research the company with the BBB by reviewing theirBusiness Review at www.bbb.org.
- When considering any company offering any type of financial assistance, insiston getting a contract in which all terms and conditions are clearly explainedbefore signing up or providing credit card or other payment information.
- U.S.consumers can place their home phone number on the federal Do Not Call list byvisiting www.donotcall.gov.If the consumer’s number is already on the list but continues to receivetelemarketing calls—or is receiving robocalls on a cell phone—he or she can usethe same Web site to report the incident to the FTC.
While the Do Not Call register is very helpful, it’s not perfect. Consumers will be happy to know help could be on the way. The Federal Trade Commission announced an enforcement action last month that may curtail these bothersome and malicious calls. For more information from the FTC - click here.