If you get a robocall promising a reduction in your credit card’s interest rate, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a piece of advice: hang up.
The agency says it has begun distributing refunds to consumers who fell for such a pitch. The FTC joined with the Florida Attorney General’s Office in 2015 to sue Payless Solutions, accusing it of making illegal robocalls to thousands of people nationwide offering a “worthless” program to reduce credit card interest rates.
According to the complaint, the defendants told consumers they could shave at least $2,500 from their credit card bills and pay them off must faster because they would be paying a lower interest rate.
The average credit card interest rate is over 17 percent, with many cardholders paying a much higher rate. The program may have sounded very attractive to some heavily leveraged consumers, even though the company charged an upfront fee that the FTC said ranged from a low of $300 to a high of $4,999. The suit also charged the defendants with illegally charging some consumers without their consent.
The FTC said it is now providing full refunds to consumers charged a fee by Payless Solutions, with the average refund at about $1,000. Eligibility will be determined by the company’s records or through consumer complaints to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network. Consumers who receive a refund should deposit or cash checks within 60 days, which is specified on the check.
It should be noted that the FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.
While paying an upfront fee will not get you a lower interest rate there are legitimate ways to pay less each month and pay off the balance faster. The first is by transferring the balance to a card offering several months of 0 percent interest.
There are several considerations when selecting a balance transfer card, including whether to apply for one that charges a fee to transfer the balance. Most cards charge between 3 percent and 5 percent of the balance, but a few don’t. Here is a good place to start your research.
Consumers with impaired credit might not qualify for a balance transfer card. If so, the experts at ConsumerAffairs suggest taking steps to raise your credit score. The best way to do that is to pay every bill on time, no matter what.
If one of your credit cards is nearly maxed out, work on paying down that balance first. That, too, will improve your credit score.
You’ll find other helpful advice for reducing your credit card debt here.