Have you received a call from Rachel from Card Services calling about your credit card account?
Did she tell you you were eligible for a lower interest rate and to press 1 to speak with a live representative?
Rachel and her cohorts — Anne, Tiffany, Michael, Heather and others — from “Card Services” have been annoying people for years with their illegal robocalls. And the Federal Trade Commission says it is working hard to stop them — both bringing cases and hosting competitions to develop robocall-blocking technology. So, what’s the deal with these calls, and why won’t they stop?
Here are the FTC’s answers to your top 3 questions.
1. Why does “Card Services” keep calling me?
The FTC has shut down more than a dozen of these “Card Services” companies -- including one this past June and yet another in July. But there are lots of other companies, and new ones pop up often. Lots of boiler rooms in the U.S. and overseas use the exact same recorded message by Rachel and friends, running a scam to -- supposedly -- reduce your credit card interest rate. An active operation can make millions of calls -- so that’s why Rachel is still calling you.
2. What should I do if I get these calls?
Hang up. Don’t press any buttons on your phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to someone — or to be taken off the call list. You’ll just get more annoying calls. And never give any of your financial information, like your credit card or bank account numbers.
Report it. Tell us what happened: visit complaints.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222. We use your complaints to investigate these scams so we can shut more of them down.
3. Can “Card Services” actually lower my interest rate?
Nope. It’s a scam. If you press "1," you’re connected to a scammer who will ask for your credit card number and other personal information.
They’ll make promises to lower your interest rate permanently -- sometimes to a ridiculously low 0% —--but charge a fee that can be as high as $5,000. But their promises aren’t true. There are no guarantees for permanently lowered interest rates. And it’s against the law to charge a fee up-front for these services. Most people who pay the fee don’t get a lower rate -- in fact, they get into worse debt, and may find unauthorized charges on their cards.
In many cases, these companies charge you for things you could do on your own for free. They might open a new card with a low introductory interest rate, or tell you to take advantage of your credit card company’s existing hardship programs. And they often use shady tactics -- like telling you to stop paying your bills, lying to your credit card company so that you qualify for a hardship program, and not telling you that you’ll have to pay additional fees to transfer a balance. If you follow that advice, you’ll be in worse financial trouble than ever.
If you need help settling credit card debt, check our article to learn about your options. There are free ways to do it yourself. And if you need additional help, consider contacting a legitimate credit counseling service. Read Choosing a Credit Counselor for more details.
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