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Observations on Everything

Credit Card Scam of the Day: Interest Rate Reduction

The fun thing about organized criminal credit card fraudsters is that they always have to stay a step ahead. I guess people were starting to catch on to the "Free" Vacation scam, so they had to come up with a new one.

Today I got to hear it for the first time. It’s so simple it’s brilliant.
It goes along these lines "Hi this is your bank calling" Red Flag! Which bank was that anyway, don’t they know their own name? The automated message continues: "There’s no problem with your account, we just want to show you a way to get a reduced rate of interest…"

Yeah, right! So if they’re my bank, how come they don’t know their name? My bank always starts with something along the lines of “Hello, this is the First National Bank of Ludicrous Service Fees calling…” Better yet, if you talk to the “agent”, how is it that he or she doesn’t already know your card number? Follow their script as they deftly pretend they know the number while trying to lure you into giving it to them.

I have to give credit to the people who came up with this one. As fraudulent pitches go, it scores four stars. It creates and removes the anxiety of a call from your bank, causing you to drop your guard. It promises a real benefit, and if you’re not paying very close attention it sounds genuine. I’d love to tell you how they messed it up and made it obvious that these are the same people who perpetrate the free vacation scam, but anything that makes them less effective simply needs to be kept secret. Just remember that there are some very clever criminals out there (after all, who else would employ a disbarred lawyer?)

Always listen carefully and don’t get suckered in by their tricks.

As usual, if you’re a victim of this or any other phone based fraud, call your bank and cancel your card ASAP. If you’re in Canada, call the Phone Busters hot line at 1-888-495-8501. The more information enforcement authorities have to track these guys down, the better.

  • Andrew

    Did you ever find out who this company was behind this? They told me Card Member Rate Reduction Services. They have a scriped “please press 8 to be placed on our do not call list” and if you press 8 it comes back that “that is an invalid entry.”

    I waited through the hold queue to try and get the name of the organization but they hung up on me before identifying themselves. No number was logged on my phone.

    I didn’t fall for the scam but it was very clever and I would like to see them shut down immediately.

    August 14, 2007 at 18:55
  • Alan

    Finding out who they really are is difficult even for law enforcement. They change names, locations, scripts, and scams on a regular basis. This also makes it very difficult to gather sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

    The “do not call” menu selection is there just to make them sound more legitimate for gullible potential victims. It’s all about creating the impression of legitimacy.

    Unfortunately the best way to stop these sorts of people is by educating the public. It might be impossible to beat them, but at least education can make it more difficult for them.

    August 14, 2007 at 22:39
  • Christi

    These people have been calling me about 2 or 3 times a week for the last two months. In fact several of my friends have also been plagued by these scammers. I agree education is key to keeping honest people safe, however, when I reported the calls to local Police, they thought I was merely complaining about legitimate solicitation. What else can been done to stop this. It just makes me so mad that honest people are preyed upon!

    September 7, 2007 at 06:47
  • Alan

    Local police are completely unequipped to deal with this problem since it’s frequently an international operation. In the USA I would think that the FTC and/or FBI are your best bets.

    September 7, 2007 at 12:14
  • Pat

    I have received several calls from unknown phone number regarding rate reduction of credit cards. (6%) When I ask if I can call back because feeding grand child lunch right then. They disconnect and do not answer me.

    October 10, 2007 at 17:27
  • Marie

    I recently received a similar offer from a blocked number. Isn’t it illegal for the numbers to be blocked?The members of the “Card Service” claimed to be in Arizona, but refused to give a contact number or to provide any information that would allow me to confirm the legitimacy of their company or offer. They could not tell me from whence they received my name and number. Finally, the speaker became rather belligerent–insisting that I initiated the call and he would have to hang up if I continued to ask so many questions. I hung up first. Please alert more people to this scam.

    November 6, 2007 at 22:45
  • Tony

    I have been receiving these calls and ignoring them due to the blocked incoming number. Finally, my wife answered one and when she informed the caller that we are on the “Do not call list” the person on the line became annoyed and said “F-you” and hung up. When we reported the incident to bellsouth, they said there was nothing they could do. Education is great, but these people need to be tracked down.

    January 10, 2008 at 15:26
  • Virgene

    I have also received several calls from Card Services. Recording tells me how my card rates may increase and they can secure rate reductions. Problem is they don’t answer. I punched in the number for a rep. and after the usual “next available rep.” the line went dead. I am on the do-not-call also and have been searching for this outfit on line, to no avail. Who are they and how can they be stopped. If they don’t follow the donotcall rules, they probably aren’t following any other rules either. I’m really upset that I can’t find them and give them trouble. Has anyone had any luck finding where they are?

    January 12, 2008 at 03:05
  • Alan

    These are criminals looking to steal your credit card number and personal details. They’re not playing by the rules, and they don’t want to be found.

    January 12, 2008 at 05:04
  • phil

    I got a call from “Rate Reduction Center for Visa and Mastercard Holders” today. I knew it was a scam because the approach is similar to “Card Holders”. I pressed 9 and was connected to Stephanie Wilson, agent #214385. She sounded African American. She ‘aksed’ me if I had a credit card balance over $6000 and that the offer was only for Visa and MC holders with accounts in good standing. She said the call was being recorded for quality assurance. Then she asked me for the name of the bank and type (Visa/MC) that I had the highest amount of debt with. I told her $30k with one card having $15k on it. Then she asked me for the expiration date. I told her that I needed to confirm that her company was legitimate so I asked her to tell me the legal name of her company. She said “Rate Reduction Center for V & MC holders”. I said, that’s a stupid name for a company. Then I told her I wanted a phone number so I could back to confirm that the company was legit. Of course, having them give me their number is like asking the Wolf to babysit Little Red Riding Hood, but I thought I could sucker them into giving me a legitimate telephone number for the police to trace. Stephanie declined and said that she couldn’t give me that number until I was qualified; until she could confirm that at least one of my credit cards was in good standing. I said, I’ll give you all the information you need as soon as I can verify that you are not running a scam. It sounded like she was getting ready to hang up so I scrambled a bit and said I wanted to talk to one of her supervisors. Stephanie indicated that the Super wouldn’t be able to give me the number either but I persisted and a supervisor answered. The supervisor said that she couldn’t give me a telephone number until I was qualified, at which time they would supply me with a toll free number. I asked how her company is associated with V & MC and she said they are a go between acting on their behalf to lower the interest rate for 1600 customers world wide and that if I didn’t get in on this now, the opportunity would go to someone else. I reiterated my concern and said I just want to confirm you aren’t running a scam and she said ‘it is against the law to do anything that scams people out of their money, that’s a federal offense’ . Of course I agreed with her and said, just give me the phone number so I can confirm then I’ll give you all my information. Before she hung up she said, we are not asking for your Social Security number so it can’t be a scam. I reminded her that with a credit card number and expiration date, you can do almost anything these days. Then she hung up. I called back the local number that was on my call display and I got a recorded message that the number was no longer in service.

    April 2, 2008 at 21:27
    • Pat

      I also got a call on my SON’s phone (listed in my name) about rate reduction. I also called the number back and got a “call cannot be completed as dialed”. This *IS* actionable, it is personation (from a legal standpoint, it is often called impersonation) and *IS* illegal and the phone company should be tracking down people using fake caller ID. The system is broken because the *end user* programs the caller ID for the various lines into their phone system. This *should* be set at the telco end, not the user end.

      Any ways, the same thing – “What bank do you deal with”… my card isn’t from my bank, so that information means diddly squat. I didn’t feel like entertaining them or myself, so I said I wasn’t interested today. She seemed confused, but said “OK” and “I will call tomorrow” and let me go.

      August 14, 2014 at 10:15
      • Pat

        I forgot to mention that she was using my first name as if it were my last name and a number of other things that didn’t add up. She was in a call centre environment, as I could hear it in the background.

        August 14, 2014 at 10:20
  • ann

    “Customer Care” from Dallas, Texas just called me and wanted to reduce my interest rates. Fortunately red flags started rising when she kept trying to get my credit card number, and avoided questions about the company.

    April 24, 2008 at 16:53
  • Get even

    I just got one of these calls a few minutes ago. If you have the time you can really have quite a bit of fun with these guys. I usually give them the third degree with all sorts of  questions and then ask the guy what his problem is. Why he is unable to go out and get a real job and can only find a dishonest one in which he spends all his time trying to scam people. You will usually get a pretty strong reaction form the caller.
    One day I really played along but I would never give out any reliable information, just false numbers, etc.  When he said the number wasn’t good, I would play dumb and tell him that I accidentally gave him my American Express number or some other excuse. To make a long story short, I kept this guy on the phone for about 20 minutes. In frustration he finally said, “Mr, I’ve spent more than 20 minutes of my time talking to you and I really need you to give me the information I need so I can help you reduce your interest rate.” That’s when I finally told him he was not going to get any info from me. That I new it was a scam, and I then asked him what his problem was that he was unable to secure legitimate employment and had to resort to spending his time scamming people. I figure the best way to hurt these people is in their pocket book, and do that by wasting as much of their time as I possibly can afford to and chalk it up as my days’ relaxation or entertainment. I figure that every minute they are on the phone with somebody like me is a minute that they are making no money and are unable to use that time to scam someone else. It would be interesting to see what the longest anyone could stay on they line with one of these guys before they finally would give up and hang up. As I said, the longest I did it was for about 22-23 minutes. One of these days I may try to beat that time. As for now I try to make the person who called me as mad and irritated as I possibly can. The guy that hung up on me a few minutes ago really was quite irritated. This helps ease my irritation that we have these people violating our privacy by calling us at home trying to scam us out of our hard-earned money.

    [Ed. Note: Completely agree! Try holding on to the line once they hang up too. Some of them use a front end dialler that transfers the calls to wherever they actually operate from. I have found that the front end sometimes doesn’t know when the “agent” has hung up, so it keeps the line open. The more lines that get locked up like this, the fewer calls they can make (and the more they pay for long distance). You can hold a line for hours. If everyone did this, it wouldn’t be long before their systems were completely blocked. Unfortunately all this will do is force them to upgrade, but the way I see it, every little bit of fighting back helps!]

    June 11, 2008 at 18:58
  • Michelle

    I just had a call today from a company that calls themselves One Source, supposedly specializing in interest rate reductions for your credit cards. They are smooth talkers! They tell you that you pay nothing to them if you have a credit card with at least $2500 owed to it and interest rates over 8%. They ask for the name of the credit card company, your account number, expiration date and even your 3 digit code on the back of the card! I told them I was not comfortable giving them this, and of course they assured me they needed all this information and the guy gave me their toll free number to call which was: 1-800-512-8877, which doesn’t even exist! This guy called himself “Jarrod Evans” and he told me that he had 2 guarantees for me, one that guaranteed me to save over $2000 minimum in interest and that my interest rates would be permanently fixed in less than 30 days or they would pay me $698!
    Then I was transferred to be recorded and at that time was told I was being charged a one time fee of $698. I told the guy to stop the recording, because I was told I was told I wouldn’t be charged this, that I would be credited this if they couldn’t save me at least $2000.

    So the guy transferred me back to the salesman I first talked to, and this guy confirmed I would be charged the $698. I hung up and immediately called the credit card company and explained what happened. THIS IS A SCAM!!! NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR 3 DIGIT CODE TO ANYONE SOLICITING!! My credit card company immediately cancelled my card!

    July 8, 2008 at 18:06
  • dave

    just tell them ok and take a really long time to find your wallet / purse then give them fake credit card numbers take up all their time and they will not call back again.

    [Ed. Note: It’s also good to put them on speakerphone and mumble, forcing them to make you repeat over and over (especially when you change the card number slightly each time). Although this is loads of fun on a slow day, they *will* call back… again and again and again. They are simply too stupid to purge the people who deliberately waste their time. Pity.]

    July 23, 2008 at 19:48
  • Lisa

    the phone number that came up on my phone is +50622251674-notice it has one too many digits but when you take the last one off and enter into google, it comes up as telemarketer, so others are getting these calls too.

    [Ed. note: unfortunately, it’s far too easy to send out any number as Caller-ID, so anyone with criminal intent can fake a legitimate number to throw people off the trail.]

    October 1, 2008 at 20:12
  • Amy Schwartz

    I got a call similar call yesterday from DHC Financial. He wanted my authorization for a $995 up-front fee to reduce my rates. When I told him to send me some info in the mail, he insisted that I authorize the charge first. I refused. When I called the number today 800-714-1455, I asked the man who answered where their company was located, he kept asking, “who is this” and “are you a client?”. Since I had stupidly given them my credit card number yesterday, I called my bank to report that the card had been exposed to possible fraud. They immediately closed down that card number and set me up with a new one, but were not interested in reporting the scammers. Who can we, as consumers, in the U.S., report them to?

    [Ed. note: Your bank may not be interested, but the Federal trade Commission certainly is!

    October 17, 2008 at 16:51
  • First Platinum

    I understand that there are alot of companies out there that try to scam consumers. However there are a few legitimate companies that actually want to help consumers that are in need of this service. You must understand that some business owners in this industry do not want to hurt anyone. Honestly if I could offer this service for free I would definitely do so, however there are business expenses involved. We only profit approx. $50 off of each client enrolled after all of our expenses. So please understand this is a legitimate service we can not please every client 100% of the time, and if a client does not want the service I do not want to force them to take advantage of our help. Keep in mind that you can do your own taxes, you can change your own oil. But do you? That is my question to you.

    [Ed. Note: Ooh, let’s see, Mr. “Legitimate Businessman” how well your plea stands up…

    1. You have no name. You use “First Platinum”, which has no more meaning than me saying “Third Gold”. Woo.
    2. You have no home page… you pretend to be a financial services company but you don’t have a web site. Yeah, right.
    3. Your IP address is in Florida, travel scam capital of the world.
    4. A web search for ‘”First Platinum” Credit’ gives us this gem from the FTC no less:

    Robert Barr and Candace Rodriguez, principals of Westcal Equipment, doing business as Pioneer First and PF Member Services, Inc., have agreed to settle federal charges that they engaged in fraudulent business practices. A federal district court judge entered default judgments against the corporate defendants on December 12, 2002. The FTC, with the State of Washington as co-plaintiff, filed charges against the defendants in August 2002 as part of “Operation No Credit” financial fraud sweep. The complaint alleged that the defendants advertised nationally on cable TV for their Pioneer First Platinum credit card, implying that the card was a major credit card. According to the FTC, the defendants guaranteed a Pioneer First Platinum credit card with a $5,000 credit limit and 0 percent interest for 12 months to anyone who was a legal U.S. resident, at least 18 years old, and had a checking account. When consumers responded to the ads, the defendants allegedly told them they had to pay an advance fee of $189 to receive the card. According to the FTC, the Pioneer First Platinum credit card was not a major credit card, but a catalog card good only for buying merchandise through Pioneer First’s Web site and catalog.


    So you know what? NO SALE. The Internet beats you at your own game. Nice try but hopelessly pathetic nonetheless. Try getting a real, legal job.]

    November 11, 2008 at 22:01
  • Anonymous

    I also receive annoying calls several times a week and after hanging up, placing the # on a block list, requesting to be removed from their calling list etc to no avail —I finally pressed# for positive reply and proceeded to give them a ton of misleading information that sounded real. As the “supervisor” got on the line to verify more information I continued to play interested, dumb, impaired etc (I have now done this several times) until it becomes apparent that I am “fooling them” or I get a “You waste my time” response from the supervisor —then I tell them that calling my number will waste a lot more of their precious time if they keep me on their list. Maybe they will become as tired of me as I am of them.

    [Ed. note: I have done this as well. I get fewer calls these days, but I’m not sure if wasting their time is a factor or not. It can be entertaining if you have some spare time, though.]

    December 6, 2008 at 14:08
  • D

    Well I Dissagree. I recieved the call today and found that if you stay on the line and keep hitting zero or a number on the phone. It continues to cycle through their computer database of voice files. So tracing the call should be quite easy if someone realy wanted to work on it. I also believe that we the public should recieve monitary compensation for our time and the use of services we pay for. The only way to stop these kinds of scams is to hit the pocket books of the people who do them.

    [Ed. note: While I agree that every effort should be made to catch and jail these people, I can’t see how knowing who they’re calling helps to track down who they are or where they’re calling from. They seem to call anyone and anything. A call trace probably just leads to a gateway that masks the true source.]

    February 24, 2009 at 18:11
  • MM

    I received a call today from a black female claiming to be from Credit Card Services. They supposedly deal with all visa & mastercard credit cards & can lower interest rates as long as you have $6,000 debt. When she asked for the name of my bank of my credit card, I asked for her phone number or to mail me the information. She put the phone down & I could hear her trying to scam someone else, then she hung up on me. This was the 2nd time they called me. Next time, I’ll give them false information. Too bad I’m unable to trace the call.
    A long time ago I was asked questions for which I responded “YES” to then I received a bill for something I had no knowledge of & when I called I was told that I agreed and they had a recording of my voice saying “yes” twice as proof. I argued with the scammers & it was dropped. I always avoid saying the word, “YES”.

    May 15, 2009 at 00:00
  • t Corey

    Just got the same call twice in one day. First time I hung up the second time I pressed 9 to see what the offer was.

    The opperator tried to lead me to give my CC #, but I continued to press him with questions like Who do you work for and What company do you represent. He hung up on me when I asked if I could get the same results by calling my CC company customer service.

    Just keep asking questions they will hang up sooner than later.

    January 28, 2010 at 19:48
  • Alan

    What do you do when the credit card company itself defrauds you?
    My statement with HBC allows for 20% interest, yet last month I was charged 32%
    They tell me I can’t calculate the interest the way they do – they are correct. Daily interest for a month at 20% on a balance forward of $6220 does not add up to $169.
    Am I wrong here?
    If not, perhaps you better check to see how your HBC statement interest was charged.

    September 27, 2014 at 18:34
    • Alan Langford

      Alan: I would suggest that you contact your government organization responsible for consumer protection.

      October 5, 2014 at 21:43
  • Manish

    Today i have received a call from +919268688485 he said i am calling from visa master and he said you are using your card very with good limit and your billing is on time. So visa master has selected your card as lucky card and we’ll send you offer package. My first impersonation was wow!! than i listen that idiot and suddenly he asked me.
    “Sir can you please tell which logo is on your card like master card, visa card.”

    But i refused to share anything, then he started explaining that sir we are from visa master and this call is under recording so don’t worry.

    Again i refused and said him if you have my card details you are from master card than you must have everything. First check that than call me.

    Than again he said sir, i just need to know logo on your card, its just for verification, refused again.

    After few minutes of talk he ends call very politely, “Thanks for talk.”

    Friends, Be aware from this kind of persons or phone calls or messages. Don’t share anything about your privacy even on small to big or big to small discounts.

    I don’t understand how these donkeys get our card details and how their daring is, i mean wow!! These kind people can do anything and nobody can do nothing against him. I mean not any law for these kind of people.

    Shit for these rules and regulations.

    October 4, 2014 at 01:31
    • Alan Langford

      Manish: all they have is your phone number. If you say “what card, I don’t have a card”, they hang up. If you say “what, my account is past due”, they hang up. They get the logo and the card issuer, they can pretend they know more than they do. You tell them you have a Barclay’s Gold VISA card, they say “this is about your card starting with 433948”, now you think they’re really associated with the bank, but the first 6 digits of a card are the Bank Identification Number (BIN) and easy to find. Then they ask you to confirm the rest of the card number. It doesn’t work for everyone, but for a small number they can use this hacking technique (known as “social engineering”) to get your card, expiry, and CVV number. then they get your address, and say they’ll send you a package.

      What they really do is start making fraudulent transactions on your card.

      October 5, 2014 at 21:53
  • Monique

    I had a call. It was automated saying if u want to lower interest on ur cc press one. I have been receiving this same for months an always just hung up. This time I figured I would press one an demand to be taken off thier calling list. A “rep ” came on and said he was from mastercard and visa that issues banks the cards they issue to thier customers. And that for 2015 they picked 999 people who carry visa an mastercard that have consistent on time paymemts to help get thier interest rates lowered with thier interest rates on your highest interest card. I said to him I don’t feel comfortable discussing my info with you. At that point he chuckled and actually said ” DO YOU KNOW WHO WE ARE MA’AM?” ” And I was telling him if I’m eligible to get interest rates lowered than my bank should call me. He did not ask me my account numbers but he did ask which of my credit cards hold the highest APR. I regrettably said the name of one of my cc. After that he said ok in two to three days you should receive another call from someone (can’t remember who he said it would be) and said they would be calling from the same number that was on my Id from his call. I just said ok. And planned to call my bank to ask them about the situation. However I still have not received a call back from them. I WONDER WHY??????? Maybe because he seen I would most likely not tell them my account number beings I told him from the get go that I didn’t want to talk to them due to not knowing who they were. I don’t know!
    Has anyone else had a call like this one?
    Thanks for taking time to read. Have a blessed day.

    March 27, 2015 at 05:40
  • allie

    I also had a phone call recently, from someone( supposedly) working on behalf of all the”popular banks”. He would be only to gladly reduce my interest rate on a credit card with a balance, of course, all he needed was a bit more info.So, he did talk me into finding out bank name, & expiry date. That was it for info from me, after thinking this is a scam, I asked him for Company name, phone #, location of business & name. He then said company name was “lower interest rate department” Really, I thought, lol. is that the best you could come up with! Then when I looked at phone display, it was showing my actual phone number that he was calling from, I’m thinking scam for sure, so kept talking to him about being a scam, he was scrambling for words,& then he hung up. So then I called my bank & cancelled that card… so, all is well, but be careful of these scumbags

    June 16, 2015 at 14:32
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    • Alan Langford

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      February 13, 2016 at 10:34
  • Pam

    I just received one this afternoon. I answered the phone and was asked to press 9 to speak with someone. Unfortunately I did, and they asked if I was interested in lowering my rate so I said yes. They asked me to verify the expiration date on my card so I asked which card and the gentleman replied my Visa, so again I asked him which card he was referring to and he said capital one. So I told him that I needed something in writing to review and be able to verify it was an actual offer and not a scam. He assured me that it was a legitimate offer and asked how much I owed. So I made up numbers and he again asked for the expiration date. I again told him I would need something in writing and he laughed and said “ma’am I have all of your information in front of me I just need you to verify it” to which I again said I would be happy to once I received something in writing. He hung up on me and I called my credit card companies to confirm that it was not them even though I already knew it wasn’t and to confirm I had fraud protection on my accounts.

    November 16, 2017 at 15:16

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