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Scammers enticing credit card holders with lower interest rates

By Bill Gephardt | Posted - Mar 24th, 2014 @ 8:57am



SALT LAKE CITY — Those aggravating junk calls are still going around from people promising to lower your credit card interest. When one Utah man got the call, it seemed to him more of a scam than an offer of help.

Pep Hinds said he was intrigued by a call from someone claiming to be with cardholder services. They offered to slash his interest rate to save him thousands of dollars.

"They're saying credit cards out there are 22 plus percent, we could do it in half,” Hinds said.

But wait a second — cardholder services? Pep wasn't sure who had called him.

"They were going into it and trying to get me to convey my information, which right then was a red flag to me,” he said.

Hinds said he kept asking questions, just trying to figure out who the guy was.

"Once I started to keep asking questions, they hung up on me,” Hinds said.

How to protect yourself against Credit Card Interest Rate Reduction scams
  • Want to reduce your interest rate? Call your credit card company yourself and ask for a reduced rate. Be calm, patient and persistent
  • Don't give out your credit card information
  • Don't share other personal financial or sensitive information like your bank account or Social Security numbers
  • Be skeptical of any unsolicited sales calls that are prerecorded, especially if your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry
  • If your number is on the National Do Not Call Registry, a telemarketer may call you only if you have agreed to accept calls from the company the salesperson works for
  • To report violations of the National Do Not Call Registry or to register your phone number, visit DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222

Source: FTC website

And that's just as well, because it is a scam. It's a scam because it's illegal to junk call someone without a previous business relationship. And if it's illegal to start, you can assume everything else is illegal, too.

Of course, the "offer is only available for a limited time, so you need to act now!" Some scammers even use money-back guarantees to sweeten the lure.

There's little wonder why people keep getting hooked, Hinds said.

"I can see a lot of people, you know, the pressure of debt, with the pressure of those interest rates,” he said.

The Federal Trade Commission warns United States financial institutions not to call customers with offers of rate reductions.

If you are not sure if it's a scam, check the caller ID. Often, when you call the number back, it's not the real number. That's why officials say it's hard to track down the scammers. It is also likely they are overseas.

If you're looking to lower your interest rate, your best bet is to handle it yourself for free, the FTC advises. Call the customer service number on the back of your card and ask for a reduced rate. You have just as much clout with your credit card company as any third-party company.

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