REPOSTING: Watch out for scams when dealing with debt

REPOSTING: Watch out for scams when dealing with debt

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There is any number of unscrupulous people looking to take advantage of those in financial trouble. Be wary of anyone who promises to lower your interest rate, get rid of your debts or otherwise wave a magic wand that’ll fix your money problems. In particular, keep an eye out for:

Credit card interest rate reduction cold calls. A telemarketer calls you and says he can lower your credit card interest rate – possibly to zero – to a credit card that he’d secure on your behalf. You’d have to pay an advance fee, however, that could be as high as $600. If you get a call like this and you think it’s from a legitimate bank (like Citibank or Chase), hang up and dial the bank’s number directly. Remember that no one can promise you a credit card without a credit check or identity verification.

“An important message concerning your credit card.” If you get a robocall from “Cardholder Services” or something like that, hang up. If you think it might be your bank calling, call their number directly. These spammy robocalls often charge fees for “lowering” your interest rates, but never deliver the promised savings. Remember: Never give out your credit card, financial or personal information over the phone.

Auto loan modification schemes that promise to reduce or eliminate your debt in exchange for an upfront fee. Occasionally, these scammers will tell you to stop paying your auto lender altogether, which leaves you in even worse shape.

Debt relief cold calls. A telemarketer calls, offering to reduce your debts for an upfront fee. She promises to refund the fee if your debt isn’t lowered. But not only does the “debt relief” company not actually do anything to lessen your debt burden, it pockets your fees and sometimes even makes illegal charges to your credit card.

Credit repair clinics. Some companies promise to “clean up” your credit by erasing missed payments or loans. Remember: No one can remove accurate information from your credit report, and you can fix inaccurate information for free. Federal law prohibits these clinics from charging a fee until the service is performed.

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