Consumers are being peppered with solicitations from companies promising to lower credit card interest rates for a fee.
Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray said his office has received dozens of complaints from consumers who have received the solicitations, which in most cases turn out to be a rip-off.
"These companies are collecting fees for a service that consumers do not need," Cordray said. "They are not offering anything that consumers cannot do on their own. While the solicitations may be touting 'guarantees' and 'exclusive offers,' the companies have no more clout with creditors than consumers do."
Most often, the solicitations come in the form of automated calls and claim to be from generically titled agencies such as Card Member Services or Credit Card Services. In the majority of cases, these organizations will charge an upfront fee to negotiate with creditors for lower interest rates and, in the end, consumers are no better off than if they had negotiated on their own.
Cordray offers the following tips to consumers who hope to lower credit card interest rates:
Call your credit card company directly. Explain that you are a good customer and that you would like a lower interest rate. If you have received better offers with other credit card companies, mention this and explain that you may switch to a competitor if you do not get a better rate with your company.
Be persistent. If you do not get a lower rate the first time you call, then call again. Ask to speak to a supervisor or someone with the authority to lower your interest rate. If you are a new customer, it may be difficult to obtain a lower rate, but keep trying anyway.
If possible, keep balances at 30 percent or less of your available credit. Also make all your payments on time. This will put you in a better position to negotiate and it also will help improve your credit score.
For additional help, contact a nonprofit credit counseling service in your area. There should never be a charge for the service.