A local consumer contacted BBB to inform us that Robocalls offering to lower credit card interest rates are happening again. He’s been receiving these automated calls and believes are coming from a call center located in another country. The live representative that picks up the line starts the sales pitch by asking if the consumer is interested in lowering his credit card interest rates from 9% to 4.5% and gives the impression that the representative is calling from his credit card company, Chase Bank.
After the representative verifies the consumer’s name, phone and address, the representative then asks for the consumer’s credit card number. The consumer, who is savvy enough to know that if this truly was a call from his credit card company the representative would already have his credit card number on file, refused to provide the numbers. That’s when the sales call got ugly. The representative used extremely foul language and then hung up on the consumer.
BBB warns these kinds of calls generally begin with recorded messages that include statements like: “There are no problems currently with your account, however it is urgent that you contact us concerning your eligibility for lowering your interest rates to as little as 6 point 9 per cent.” or, “This is our final attempt to reach you since you’ve not responded to our other calls to discuss your credit card debt.” The automated message invariably does not include the name of the company, but may claim to be with Card Services or Card Holder Services. Consumers often note to BBB that they believe the calls were designed to deceive them into thinking their credit card company was contacting them.
After the initial recorded message, consumers must dial another number to be connected to a live person. The live “operator” usually starts the sales pitch by asking for the consumer’s credit card number and whether the consumer is interested in lowering their interest rates. From there, representatives begin closing the sale, asking if the consumer is willing to pay – usually from $700 to $1,000 – to have their firm contact the credit card company and negotiate lower rates.
The ‘negotiation’ undertaken by these companies can be as simple as calling the customer service number listed on the back of the consumer’s credit card and asking a customer service representative to lower the interest rate. Consumers are fully capable of talking to credit card companies on their own, for free, and getting similar results. 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 Social Security, bank or credit card numbers, over the phone to an unknown telemarketer. Always research the company first by reviewing its Reliability Report at www.bbb.org.
- When considering any company offering any type of financial assistance, insist on getting a contract in which all terms and conditions are clearly explained before 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 by visiting www.donotcall.gov. If the consumer’s number is already on the list but continues to receive telemarketing calls—or is receiving robocalls on a cell phone—he or she can use the same Web site to report the incident to the FTC.