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Americans carry a considerable amount of credit card debt. According to NerdWallet, the average U.S. household debt is nearly $16,000, while the average interest rate is 13 percent. Unfortunately, consumers who struggle to get out from under their credit card debt often fall victim to scams promising lower interest rates or the ability to refinance.

What are some refinancing scams?

  • Scammers call and offer a new rate for your card. You just need to provide personal information for verification.
  • Companies that have no affiliation to your current credit card provider call and offer you lower interest rates, without needing to change your card or bank, but only if you pay them a fee first.protect-your-credit-card
  • Fake businesses pressure consumers to reveal their personal and financial information by offering too good to be true deals that could save thousands of dollars while allowing for debt to be paid off three to five times faster.

How can you avoid falling victim to a refinancing scam?

  • Ask questions! Scammers use high pressure tactics to get you to act quickly. When you start asking questions about why they need the card numbers of every credit card you own or why they can’t look up information they should already have about you, the scammer will usually hang up.
  • Do not give out your credit card information to someone calling over the phone. Ever! Once a scammer has access to this, they can charge your card for their own purposes or even distribute this information to other scammers. If you question the caller’s authenticity, hang up. Call your credit card provider yourself and ask about any “special offers” or refinancing availabilities.
  • Do not share personal information, such as your social security number or your bank account numbers. If you’re looking to make changes to your credit cards, call your provider yourself. They will have access to account numbers and you can verify you’re speaking with a legitimate representative of the company.
  • Sign up for the state “Do Not Call” registry as well as the national one to prevent telemarketers from reaching you.
  • Although a short cut to pay off your credit card debt would be ideal, it is best to pay down your debt yourself. If you’re struggling with debt, call your card provider’s customer service number (found on the back of your card) and ask about options, such as reduced rates. Consumers struggling with debt should also contact legitimate debt counseling services for advice on how to get back on track.

If you think you’ve experienced a credit card interest rate reduction scam, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry

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