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Connie Prater

I got one of those lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate robocalls

The Federal Trade Commission has announced a crackdown on three companies at the center of millions of robocalls made across the country, claiming to be able to lower consumers' credit card interest rates -- for a fee, of course.

Never heard of a robocall? You've probably gotten one. They are automated calls used by telemarketers, debt collectors and debt settlement companies to reach a large number of people without using human labor to actually dial the numbers.

According to the FTC, the three telemarketing companies charged as much as $1,495 in upfront fees for their services and, annoyingly, called people whose names were on the national 'Do Not Call' list.

When I saw the FTC's press release on the lawsuits filed to stop the calls, I flashed back to a bizarre call I got a couple of months ago on my cell phone.

A recording greeted me with a message along the lines of: "I have important information about your credit card account. You can lower the interest rate on one or more of your credit card accounts. Press "1" for more information."

I was in my car at the time I got the call and had just pulled into my garage. Since I'm hypersensitive to anything related to credit cards (duh, I write for CreditCards.com), I pressed a button to speak to a real live person. A woman came on the line and started asking if I needed my interest rates lowered. I said they were already low. Then, I asked: "How did you get my number?" They were clearly not from one of the my credit card issuers. She claimed she got it from my card issuers, but I didn't believe her. I said thanks but no thanks to her offer and the call ended.

"The FTC has heard the public outcry against robocalls and has taken swift action to stop them. During these difficult economic times, the last thing anyone needs is to be bombarded by robocalls pitching worthless interest-rate reduction programs," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in the press release. "The lawsuits announced today are not the first, nor will they be the last, that the agency brings to protect consumers from intrusive, illegal, and deceptive telemarketing robocalls."

According to the FTC, virtually all robocalls conducted since Sept. 1, 2009, are illegal unless the telemarketers got advance, written approval from recipients to receive pre-record calls.

The companies facing federal suits are: Economic Relief Technologies, LLC, Dynamic Financial Group (U.S.A.) Inc., and JPM Accelerated Services (JPM). The FTC alleges the companies made pre-recorded robocalls to consumers, claiming to be from "card services," "credit card services" or "account services."

Yep. That's what happened to me. They appeared to be from a legitimate credit card company's card services division.

Unfortunately, consumers who fell into the deceptive trap laid open by the scheme never got refunds of the $495 to $1,495 they shelled out for services.

"After securing the fee, the defendants allegedly did not negotiate lower rates on behalf of consumers and provided few refunds to those who were dissatisfied with the service," according to the FTC.

Here's how the feds say the companies violated consumer laws:

  • Calling consumers whose phone numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry.
  • Calling consumers who had previously asked not to be called.
  • Failing to transmit their caller ID information, as required.
  • "Spoofing" or masking their caller ID information.
  • Failing to promptly identify themselves, the purpose of their call, and/or the nature of the goods or services they were selling.
  • Improperly abandoning calls.
  • Failing to make required disclosures in their robocalls.

Now, think about it. Would your credit card company call you specifically to lower your interest rate? That's like taking money out of their coffers at a time when banks are hurting for money. Sure, some customers are getting lower interest rates. Those are the prime customers or those generating a lot of revenue for the issuers.

If you want your credit card interest rate lowered, contact your issuer yourself, make a reasoned pitch for why your rates should be lowered and see what happens.

See related: What part of 'do not call' don't you understand?

16 Comment(s)

Martha said:

I have an added concern about these calls - that they might be collecting credit card data for use in fraud. At best, they are taking advantage of the elderly.

Having filed several FTC complaints and done considerable research on these and the car warranty call, I found one tactic to be effective at stopping the calls. I would press 1 to speak to the rep (pressing 2 to opt out just terminates the call) and ask if they were aware that there employer was operating illegally and potentially doing fraud. That must not be on their script because they continued to talk to me as I gave them the FTC phone number and suggested they might get a reward for providing information. In nearly every case, the rep was new and confirmed they were being paid more than would be usual in their area.

At least I thought that worked until I got a robocall from "Heather" a few weeks ago. Heather had been "retired" for a while but apparently they rolled her out again.

I expect these calls will continue until someone at the top gets some jail time.


dude said:

I keep getting these calls. I knew they were bogus from the start, since my card issuer wouldn't call me like that. I pressed 2 several times to reject it but they kept calling. They just called again and I hit 1 this time to speak to someone. I got a woman and she immediately asked if I wanted to lower my interest rates. I told her no and that I wanted her to take my number off their list because I've repeatedly rejected their offer. She said something else that I honestly couldn't make out (the signal on the line was bad) and I was disconnected. Not sure if they'll still keep calling.


Jennifer said:

I received this type of call twice. Both times I asked how the got my number, and yes, they said from my credit card company. My response was, "Really? Are you absolutely sure?" Them, "Yes!" Me, "I find that interesting, since I don't have credit cards, and never have had any." Dead silence on the other end! I guess they didn't figure on someone calling them on their lie, nor will they ever know for certain whether I was telling an untruth or not.


harold franklin said:

I've received four of these calls (to a cell phone) in the past three days. Two calling phone numbers are involved 228-365-9632 (non working number in the Biloxi, MS), and 316-789-1356 (non-working number in the Wichita metro area). I've been on the Fed do not call list since Jan 2009. I've also filed complaints on these calls. I'M DAMN SICK OF THEM!!


Bill said:

Receive these calls repeatedly, day after day, month after month. Royal pain.

December 15, 2011


Paul R. Lewis said:

These editorials about telemarketers failing to honor Do-Not-Call lists and annoying people are all well and good, but why doesn't anyone creating these actually provide some helpful information instead of just babble about what we all have experienced and found annoying ourselves? It would be nice to post any little known or helpful links of how people can actually fight back. The do not call list and complaining about someone not honoring it, is a big fat JOKE! Like any other supposed "service" provided by our government, it's simply not monitored, managed, or acted upon. If it was, we wouldn't still be having these complaints years later. The telemarketers know they can get away with continuing to cold call anyone they like and the government will do nothing to stop it. The Do-Not-Call list is a "dead-end" list meant only to temporarily appease the public by making them believe they've actually done something worthwhile or that might have some affect... NOT!


Jacques Delente said:

Today I received 7 of those calls and it is not 5pm yet!


mica d gifford said:

i keep getting those same calls and i put myself and my husbands phones numbers on national do not call registal list so i would do that and all the calls will stop


Jill said:

I have been getting these calls everyday. I am on the do not call registry. Is it illegal to make incrediably loud noises in the receiver when they call?


Imelton2 said:

I have been getting these calls regularly for about 2 years. I pressed 2 in the beginning but that is of no use. I now press 1 every time trying to get enough information to at least file a complaint. Most of the time they hang up as soon as I ask any question, some of the time they keep repeating that they need my credit card info....NOT! Since making a complaint on them is nearly impossible without knowing who they are, I am left with using them as a way to vent some pent up frustration! I have had my number registered with the Do-Not-Call Registry for a couple years, so, if they can break the law and keep calling me week after week, then I get to yell and scream at them till they hang up on me! I always feel better afterwards and can continue my day with a smile on my face! I will add, the last call I got, they actually told me they were with a company called Financial Rewards out of New York City. I haven't found such a company to exist as of yet. I always ask who they are with to see if I can get information before I start yelling and screaming.... I give them a chance to be on the up and up until they start hammering me for my credit card info!

I agree with an earlier post on here that the DNC Registry seems like a joke when this crap happens all the time.


Steve said:

Fight back by keeping the live scammer on the line as long as possible, causing maximum expense to his employer.


JEM said:

I get these calls constantly. I have pressed 3 to be taken off list. I have even pressed 1 to speak to someone and when I ask what it will take to be removed from their calling - they hang up. I tell them I have no credit cards. I ask for their address, etc, etc. Nothing works. I just had one say she didn't call me. then who called as you came on the phone. They are rude. and I am P'O'd........


Eddie said:

I press "1", get a live operator, tell them to take me off their list and then I get the "canned" air horn, you get them from the Dollar Store, and give them a blast with the air horn right into the mouthpiece of the phone. I still get the call but am having fun try to ruin their hearing.


Teufel Wolf said:

If you agree to sign up and give them a fake credit card number (any random string of 16 numbers starting with 4 (visa), 5(Mc), 3 (amex), or 6 (Disc) really infuriates them more then anything else.


Pat Deck said:

I cannot get these bozos to stop. Sometimes 2 calls/day. There has to be a law against this, and someone with brains and balls enough to enforce it.


robert b said:

I am getting these calls daily, sometimes 2-3 times per day on my cell phone and home phone. They will not stop. This has been going on for over a year. I am on the do not call list. How can I get them to stop? I'm ready to take legal action if I thought I knew how to .

Thanks


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