December 11, 2009
Union workers who receive preapproved credit card offers that sound too good to be true should be wary. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray warns of advance-fee credit card offers targeting union workers with promises that often fall short.

Cordray says his office has received numerous complaints regarding credit card scams that promise easy credit and trick consumers into paying upfront fees for credit cards or guaranteed loans that do not actually exist.

The latest scam targets union workers, offering low interest rates if applicants send in a membership fee upfront. The fee does not guarantee that a consumer will receive a card. If they do receive the card, it can only be used to purchase items from a specific catalog.

"In tough economic times, we're all looking for a little relief and, unfortunately, scammers know it and work to exploit it," said Cordray. "While it is a shame that we need to constantly be on guard, it is a necessity. I strongly urge Ohioans to think twice before responding to deals or offers that sound too good to be true. And always read the fine print."

Cordray offers the following advice to avoid advance fee scams:

• Never send money to anyone who claims they can guarantee you a credit card or loan.

• Be wary of ads that claim bad credit is no problem and guarantee a loan will be issued. No legitimate financial institution guarantees financing.

• Apply for loans through local banks and credit unions; not through a company that you've never heard of.

• Do not give personal or financial information over the Internet or by phone unless you know the business is legitimate and you understand why the information is necessary. Scam artists may promise you a loan just to get your financial or personal information.

• Be suspicious of anyone asking you to send an advance fee for a loan through overnight mail, by courier service or wire service, and especially to a post office box.

• Research the lender. Determine whether it's licensed by a state or federal agency. Start by checking with the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General's Office.