Consumers beware: Prerecorded phone calls from “Rachel” or “Wendy” from “cardholder services” offering to significantly lower credit card interest rates are likely nothing more than scams, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said today.
“My office has received numerous complaints and calls about these robocalls, and the best advice for any consumer who receives one of these calls is to immediately hang up,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “For consumers looking to lower their interest rates, your best option is to avoid a persuasive sales pitch, call the customer service number on the back of your credit card and request a reduced rate.”
The automated robocalls claim to have an “important message” regarding an opportunity to reduce high credit card interest rates. Consumers are urged to “press 1” to connect with a live representative or “press 2” to discontinue getting such calls. Consumers who press 1 are connected to live telemarketers, who claim that, for a fee, they will deliver a reduced rate on a credit card and see significant savings on finance charges. Often, consumers have no way to screen these calls using Caller ID, as the incoming number is “spoofed,” or displayed as a false number.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that after consumers pay an up-front fee – sometimes totaling thousands of dollars – the companies do little or nothing to lower credit card interest rates. The FTC advises consumers that federal law prohibits companies that sell relief services from charging a fee before a debt is settled or reduced. With few exceptions, prerecorded sales calls such as these are illegal under state and federal law.
Consumers who receive these calls should:
- Simply hang up. Do not press 1 to try to speak to a live operator, or press any other number to be removed from their list. Doing so will likely only result in additional calls.
- Never give out credit card or other personal financial information, such as bank account or Social Security numbers. Doing so will only increase the risk of fraud.
Consumers who believe they’ve fallen victim to a credit card interest rate reduction scam should file a complaint with the FTC at ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
To reduce unwanted telemarketing calls, consumers can register both cell phones and land lines on the, National Do Not Call Registry. To register by telephone, call 1-888-382-1222; you must call from the phone number you wish to register. To register online, go to DoNotCall.gov. Once registered, telemarketers covered by the Do Not Call Registry have up to 31 days from the registration date to stop calling. Do Not Call registrations do not expire.
Marketers with whom you have conducted business within the last 18 months are generally exempt from Do Not Call requirements, as are tax-exempt and nonprofit entities; political campaigns; businesses contacting about an existing debt, contract or payment; businesses that started within the past year; prerecorded messages or emergency calls needed for health or safety; organizations with whom you have given prior consent; or entities with which you have a preexisting relationship.
The FTC investigates complaints about potential Do Not Call violations; complaints can be filed with the FTC through DoNotCall.gov. The state Department of Consumer Protection also accepts and investigates complaints about potential violations of Connecticut’s Do Not Call law. Complaints can be made at www.ct.gov/dcp or at 1-800-842-2649.
For more information about these calls, visit www.ftc.gov/robocalls.
Assistant Attorney General Brendan Flynn is assisting the Attorney General with this matter.
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