Beware of Credit Card Scams
Credit scams and fraud are becoming increasingly common—and harder to detect. Help protect yourself by following this simple rule: Never give any private information over the phone or by email to a company you didn’t initially contact.
Common Credit Scams
There are a variety of different credit scams, but according to the FBI a few of the most common are:
1. Telemarketing Fraud is when someone calls you asking for money or saying your account is “in danger” and needs immediate funds. Always be suspicious of any credit company that contacts you first. A reputable credit agency should only contact you after you’ve called, emailed, or asked for help first.
2. 419 Fraud is where you receive an opportunity to earn an undisclosed sum by providing a small payment up front. The term ‘419’ comes from an article of the Nigerian Criminal Code that deals directly with fraud. 419 scams were initially mail-only scams, but recently they’ve become more common with email.
3. Identity Fraud is when your personal information is stolen.Never give out your credit information online unless you know the site is both reputable and secure. Make sure your Wi-Fi is password protected, and remember to always check with the Better Business Bureau before making an online purchase, especially if you’ve never purchased from the site before.
Again, remember to never give out your private information to an unknown credit agency unless you contacted them initially first.
Quick-Fix Credit Repair: It’s Not Real…or Legal
Some companies will even go as far as claiming to be able to change your credit information…for a fee. While this may sound enticing, no company can do this legally.
In fact, these so-called “credit-repair” agencies are mostly web-based companies that operate out of someone’s basement. And while they may have elaborate and even authentic-looking websites that promise to “fix” your bad credit or erase your negative account information, they can’t. Only the three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, have the authority to change or alter your credit information. Any company claiming to do so is not legitimate.
How to Tell If You’ve Been a Victim
While some credit scams may be obvious immediately, others may take weeks, months, or even years before you realize what’s happened. According to the FTC, here’s what you need to be on the lookout for:
- You see bills or transactions for purchases you never bought.
- You notice unexplained withdrawals from your bank account.
- Your checks are being refused.
- You receive calls about debts that aren’t yours.
Make sure to check your credit report and bank statements for fraudulent activity, as the sooner you realize your credit’s been compromised, the sooner you can fix it.
If You Think You’ve Been Victimized
If you’ve been the unfortunate victim of a credit scam, it’s important that you file an official complaint immediately.
- Call your credit institution and inform them of your situation.
- Next, file a complaint with your local consumer protection agency. These agencies are created to protect citizens from these dubious organizations and they have the experience and resources to resolve your situations.
- Finally, email or write the Federal Trade Commission to file an official complaint. While the FTC does not handle individual cases, your case might encourage the FTC to look into the matter and bring appropriate legislation to protect other consumers from these fraudulent organizations.
For more information on your consumer rights, please visit http://www.ftc.gov/ or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
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