The FTC announced this week that it had filed lawsuits against three companies: Economic Relief Technologies LLC, Dynamic Financial Group (U.S.A.) Inc., and JPM Accelerated Services, http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/12/robocall.shtm. The lawsuits, which were filed in Florida, Georgia and Illinois, allege that the companies have been marketing worthless credit card interest rate reduction programs to consumers via automated phone calls, also known as ‘robo” calls. According to the FTC, not only have the companies failed to deliver on their promises, but their calls have violated the federal Telemarketing the Do Not Call Rules.
Telemarketers working for the three companies told consumers who were interested in the program that the program would allow them to save thousands of dollars in interest within a short period of time and would make it possible for them to pay off their debts faster. Consumers were also told that to achieve these benefits they would have to pay as much as $1,495 up-front, but were promised that if they did not save a “guaranteed” amount — usually $2,500 — they could get their up-front payment back. Few consumers ever received a refund however.
Consumers who want to learn more about their rights and responsibilities regarding pre-recorded telemarketing calls, should read the following two FTC alerts: New Rules for Robocalls and Reining in Robocalls, which can be found at http://ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt162.shtm.
Getting your interest rates lowered yourself.
Consumers should know that they have just as much likelihood (if not more) of successfully reducing their interest rates with their creditors on their own, rather than by paying someone to attempt to do it for them. If you try it on your own and you hit a brick wall, do not get discouraged. Try again a week or so later and you may have success.
One little tip for those consumers whose high interest rate credit cards may force them to make a payment late: Missing a payment by as a little as a week or two will often give your account a different status that will qualify you for interest rate and minimum payment reductions that were unavailable to you prior to your late payment.
I should stress that this strategy for getting such reductions is only appropriate for someone who was already unlikely to be able to meet the minimum payment requirement. I have seen instances where calling in to ask for your interest rate to be lowered can end with a no, and a closed account, or lowered credit limit.
Anyone with questions about phone calls or solicitations that offer you credit card interest rate reduction, or any other form of debt relief, can post in the comments below for feedback.