Toby Nixon recently contacted us about annoying robocalls from a company promising to lower his credit card rate. Here’s part of what Toby reports:
I’ve been receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls for several months on my cell phone, offering to “lower my credit card interest rate.” I have asked several times to be removed from their list – especially since it is a violation of federal law to make telemarketing calls to cell phones – but they have ignored me or hang up before I can even get the words “Please add me to your do not call list” out of my mouth...I continue to get these calls at least a couple of times a week.
Today, I finally got one of their agents to stay on the line long enough to give me some information. I offered them made-up information about my credit accounts, such as balances and interest rates, to sound like I was an attractive prospect. They then asked me for my credit card number, supposedly so they could talk to the credit card issuer to verify my credit standing (that my account was current and not over-limit, they said). Of course, I wouldn’t give my card number to someone who called me, and told them so. I said I wanted to look at their web site to verify that they are a legitimate company, and they told me it is www.cardmemberservices.com.
Let’s pause for a moment and point out a few things. First, Toby did everything right. Never give your personal financial or other information to random callers, no matter how legitimate they might sound. Second, the “Card Member Services” website is owned by First USA, a legitimate financial institution. A First USA representative tells me they are aware of, and frustrated by, those using their name to rip people off. But it’s not just First USA being drawn into this scam, when Toby asked the live agent for a phone number, she gave him a toll-free number for Discover cards.
Toby reveals these scammers are using contact information for both First USA and Discover. But here’s the deal: credit card companies don’t need your credit card number in order to “lower your interest rate.” When you apply for a credit card the bank runs a credit check, accessing a list of all your debts. That’s how they decide what products and rates to offer individual customers.
Shannon Smith, the AGO’s Consumer Protection Chief, also offers some personal experience with this very scam:
I’ve been called and I’ve stayed on the line to talk to an agent on a few occasions. They tell consumers they work with the banks to lower the interest rate. I don’t know what their ultimate purpose is – extracting personal information, charging the cards, or selling credit cards that will end up being more expensive for the consumer.
The last time I chatted with a live agent was Saturday. I said I was interested and she asked for my credit card number. I asked her to give me the credit card number she had for me and I would verify it because I didn’t like giving my card number over the phone. She said it was against policy and reassured me she was trying to help me. I said, OK, “Tell me my name. You must know my name.” She asked me to hold on and thanked me for my patience because the computer system was slow . . . after about a minute, we were disconnected.
Here are few additional pointers to avoid such scams:
- Never give out personal details like your social security number, mother’s maiden name, or account numbers to strangers who contact you via mail, Internet, and especially by phone. Thieves and scammers might impersonate bank representatives or government officials in order to steal your information. Real financial organizations would already have your information and would not ask for it by calling you. Regarding your credit card numbers, a good rule of thumb is to assume that anyone who calls and asks for your credit card number is going to charge your credit card.
- Remove yourself from contact lists by registering your number for Do Not Call lists; remove your address from marketing lists by making a request to the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service online at www.dmachoice.org; contact the three major credit bureaus and ask to “Opt Out” of pre-approved credit lists or fill out a form for this service at www.optoutprescreen.com; and contact your credit card companies to request no third party solicitations.
-Dan Sytman and AGO Volunteer Rachel Vinson-
Posted by Public Affairs Unit at 08/03/2012 11:56:29 AM |
|I am on the National Do Not Call list on my cell phones and home phone and STILL get these calls, sometime twice a day. It is so bad that I only answer calls if I recornize the number.|
Posted by: Dave L. ( Email ) at 8/3/2012 7:02 PM
|This company has been calling me. the area code is 425 which shows as a state of Washington number. The number is (redacted for now). I am sure some people are falling for this scam and this should be taken very seriously by the Washington Attorney genearal.|
Posted by: David ( Email ) at 8/6/2012 12:26 PM
|David - I tried that number a moment ago. The recording gives me an opportunity to be put on their do-not-call list. Did you enter your number? Do they continue to call?|
Posted by: Dan Sytman, AG's Office ( Email ) at 8/6/2012 1:33 PM
|I get a call from Credit Card Services (360-474-3977, Arlington, WA) about once every three days, at my home phone in Renton, WA. The home phone has been on the do-not-call list since 2007, and we have repeatedly used the option to press 1 to be put on their do-not-call list. Yet the calls continue! I've just filed a complaint with the FCC. Now I would like to find out how to file an official complaint with your office with the goal of ending this harrassment.|
Posted by: William Sexauer ( Email ) at 8/6/2012 2:02 PM
|William S. - Go to our website, www.atg.wa.gov, and look to the top right side. Click on the link to file a complaint. I hope this problem is resolved soon.|
Posted by: Dan Sytman, AG's Office ( Email | Visit ) at 8/7/2012 10:37 AM
|Ive been recieving phone calls everyday once a day for the past two weeks, today i just got fed up so i call the lady back to find out what this is, she called me Robyn , before i said who i was, i ask her why she called me by name not knowing who it was that was calling her, she went to say it was about my mastercard balance and i needed to get it taken care, i told her i dont have a mastercard and she just went on asking me to pronounce my last name, i told her no and that i would be contacting the Attorney Generals Office. the phone numbers they would leave were 757-296-0116 & 0081 which iam sure were pre-paid phones i did call back the number on my caller ID which was from seattle 206-445-6606 when i called i could hear someone and then hung up so i called again and the phone answered to a recording ( which iam sure was a live person)saying they were away from there phones to leave my name and phone # and they would get back to me i just hung up. Iam sure i wont be hearing back from them again I just wonted to let people beware of these scams.|
Posted by: Robyn ( Email ) at 8/10/2012 12:16 PM
|I have been receiving phone calls from RLV & assoc. collection agency out of Florida concerning a delinquent account they claim I have for a Visa card I never applied for. What is so scary is that they have my history, addresses and personal information on top of that. I have looked over my own credit report and no such reports stated, nor is the supposed card. |
When I told them that they have invaild information concerning my account, that I never applied for that card, and the bank it is said to be under does not exist, I asked what store it was applied through. "mama, we cannot tell you that information" and "we cannot mail you a copy of our report". They continue to tell me that the report is only showing up on one of the credit bureau's files. He continues to tell me that I have a valid claim to say that the debt is not mine and that I should contact a lawer if I do not wish to pay them $600.
After talking with them later, I am told that it should be on all of them, I cannot check my own credit score monthly, and that they cannot send me the information, but they can to my lawer if I so chose to go down that path. WHen I asked to talk to the supervisor, "sorry mama but he is out of the office" and upon asking for him to call me back asap, "he is here, just in a conference call at the moment". Then they proceed to hang up on me.
It seems a bit odd that you cannot tell the person owning the money any information that could help to alievate the problem, and more so to continue to ask for money that the person clearly does not owe. [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: This sounds like the Phishing scams that were going around earlier this year. A person’s name, address, email, and phone numbers are all public and available through a variety of resources. Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report per year from each credit bureau from www.Annualcreditreport.com. Consumers can call, or go online and request a complete copy of their reports. Credit scores are not free or included in the free report.
If this is a legitimate debt, the collection agency is required to send a letter stating what the debt is for, the amount and any interest/fees added to the account and information on how to dispute the debt, they are also required to give their full business name, address, and phone number. If the collection agency is unwilling to provide this information chances are they are probably a Phisher.
You should not give or verify any information if they call again but simply request their full name, address and phone number so you can check through your records and send them a dispute letter. You should not argue with them as some Phishers can become abusive and threatening. Also, you cannot be arrested or put in jail for this debt, this is a common threat recently with Phishers.]
Posted by: Kim ( Email ) at 8/14/2012 2:21 PM
|I live in Indiana with a 317 area code. I'm receiving mutiple calls from this creditservices company in your state. At least the calls are originating in your state. What are you doing to shut these people down. I've read on the internet that this has been going on for some time now. I've gotten calls for over a year now. This seems to be a huge problem. And yes I'm on the national do not call list. let me know what the deal is. [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: These issues are handled by the Federal Trade Commission. You can file a complaint with them at: https://complaints.donotcall.gov/complaint/complaintcheck.aspx?panel=2.]|
Posted by: Chris Madsen ( Email ) at 8/21/2012 9:49 AM
|A company called me. And told me i was selected for a grant. They said i applied a couple months back. So i agreed to it. And gave them my debit card number. they said the charge was 3.87. so i said okay. but now they took 20 extra dollars. i am cancelling my card tomorrow.|
Posted by: Frank McConkey ( Email ) at 9/19/2012 11:02 PM
|Whatever you do, don't click on option that removes your phone number from their do not call list. This just alerts them that they will get a response from your phone number. It will not stop them from calling.|
Posted by: Elizabeth Allen ( Email ) at 10/24/2012 2:21 PM
|SEGAL BENNETT & ASSOCIATES 250 Delaware Avenue Suite 3 Buffalo, New York 14202 Called me threatening to send a sheriff to my house to arrest me for a debt. Can they do this? Is this company real? Please help me. [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: A collection agency can’t threaten to have a debtor put in jail for bad debt. You can find more information about a collection agency can and can’t do on our website at: http://atg.wa.gov/ConsumerIssues/Credit/CollectionAgencies.aspx]|
Posted by: Adrian ( Email ) at 11/26/2012 10:56 AM
|I also have been recieving these calls for a while. I think the best way to combat these calls are to target the employees. I answer '1' and get the live operating, I tell them I have 2 cards w/ about $25,000 balance. Sometimes they will ask for the phone # of the credit card company, and I give that, then usually the ask for the credit card number, MANY times when I hesitate, they will immedicately hang-up, the newbies will try to work me, that is when I kick my plan into gear! I tell them I just got a letter that day from my credit card company warning me NOT TO GIVE MY credit card number to SCAMMERS that are trying to get it. This makes them think the credfit card companies are FINALLY attacking backat them, and I am sure if they keep getting this response, the employees will quit much soone than later! Eventually these companies will have a harder time finding suckers to work on their commissioned sales calls. PLEASE SPREAD THIS AND I AM SURE IT WILL EVENTUALLY DO THESE SCAMMERS IN. These poor employees will realize working at McDonald's is better than this scam!|
Posted by: Sam Spade ( Email ) at 11/26/2012 8:08 PM
|I was just contacted by a "collection agency" who is trying to collect on a card That I Thought I paid off ten years ago. The person said that it was in collections and I had to make payment arrangements. I have not had that card for over ten years and never heard of any debt owed on it.I told them I did not believe them. I was told they bought this debt last year and this is there first attempt to collect on the outstanding debt. I have 14 days to comply or action would be taken. What is going on? thank you for your time. [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: Request the company’s full name, address and phone number so you can check through your records and send them a dispute letter. If you continue to have a problem, file a complaint with our office at:|
Posted by: Scott Perrin ( Email ) at 11/28/2012 11:52 AM
|I have been getting harrassed by cardservices for over a year. Can't your office do something about these calls as we have a do not call option? [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: These types of calls are handled by the Federal Trade Commission, who administers the Do Not Call Registry.]|
Posted by: Robert Cleveland ( Email ) at 12/4/2012 10:23 AM
|I got a call saying that they are calling from visa cards that was the first time i received call for this credit card stuff. I gave them all my details and they charged me 690$ but that seems to be some legit company and they send me a cd and assigned a lawyer on my behalf. I don't know what is the current scenario|
Posted by: Raheel ( Email ) at 12/5/2012 7:36 PM
|It doesn't do any good to ask to be put on their do not call list, or press a button to do so - they will continue to call even if you are on the Federal or a state list. The only thing that may work and that will at least give you some satisfaction, is to press 1 and then abuse the hell out of them.|
Posted by: Not Chicken Little ( Email ) at 12/21/2012 12:14 PM
|Credit Card Services call me several times a week even though I am on the Do Not Call List and have requested they not call me. I believe this is harassment, can the AG contact them? [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: These types of calls are handled by the Federal Trade Commission, who administers the Do Not Call Registry: https://www.donotcall.gov/.]|
Posted by: Greg ( Email ) at 12/27/2012 12:13 PM
|To the All Consuming Moderator in reference to 'Greg's comment above. The DO NOT CALL list is irrelevant to the caller showing on Caller ID as Card Services. It is neither a card issuer nor a debt management company. I've spoken to a live operator from this business once, and it was clear that his intent was to obtain personal info and card numbers for fraudulent purposes. He could not tell me what company he represented (other than "Card Services", nor could he tell me which card issuer he represented (other than, "VISA, or MasterCard.) The burglar doesn't care much about the lock on your door, Card Services cares about as much about Do Not Call. Based on the mode of operation -- phone call with spoofed number on caller ID, a recording with a request to press 1 to take advantage of their "offer," followed by a delay and finally contact with a live human, it is pretty clear that this an autodialer calling random numbers. If the autodialer gets an answer (valid number) and a key press (live person at the called number), it relays the call to a bank of live operators to attempt the scam. Otherwise, the dialer disconnects and moves to the next number. This is not simply a Do Not Call violation. It is criminal attempt to defraud and uses the illegal tactic of caller ID number spoofing. Washington State citizens are under attack by these crooks; it seems that our state government would have an interest in investigating and prosecuting these crooks.|
Posted by: RG ( Email ) at 1/9/2013 11:58 PM
|This is not just a problem, I live in PA. and have been having the same issue with the same company for more than a year. Yes I have reported it to the above mentioned authorities with documentation..no help. Do you think if we have managed to capture BinLaden and Hussein that someone can capture "Credit Card Services" for fradulent business conduct?|
Posted by: Barbara tino ( Email ) at 2/9/2013 10:06 AM
|We are having the same problem in NH. Question: Can the attorney general's offices in each state or group of states not take the FCC to court for not doing their job properly? How else can we compel our reulatory agencies to enforce the laws on the books? Note: we need to keep an eye on congress, (read GOP) which is in the process of dismantling consumer protections that have been put in place in the last twenty years! It is also writing laws that prevent either re-issuing regulations or preventing people from collecting information and statistics to prove the regulations are needed! Take note of current law preventing the collection of gun statistics. We are being whacked on both sides!! our own government (read GOP) and predatory criminals.|
Judy from NH
Posted by: Jay FORD ( Email ) at 3/25/2013 9:11 AM
|After rejecting the call from "card holder service" by telling the operator that is was an illegal call she goaded me and said "what are you gonna do about it?" to which I hung up. She called BACK! Not once but 8 times until I got my cell phone company to block the number. While I had my cell phone off she left me a voice mail stating she would continue to call me the rest of the day and tomorrow morning just to brighten my day. I have that voicemail for evidence if anyone wants it. I get this crap on my cell phones and land lines and ALL of my lines are NO CALL phones. This has been reported to the FTC.|
Posted by: Keith Morgavi ( Email ) at 4/16/2013 3:36 PM
|We have the same problem with these bottom dwellers. My lines and all of my family members have their cell phones and landlines on the DO NOT CALL LIST... I know because I listed them for them. These people are so annoying and giving the middle finger to the DO NOT CALL laws. When you stay on the line for them to answer and ask them to stop calling you they either hang up, start pressing buttons, laugh evil and something else weird and continue to call day after day, week after week.|
Posted by: Cynthia Bradford ( Email ) at 5/7/2013 12:07 PM
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