Robocalls promising lower rates or to fix your credit? Hang up nowAugust 4, 2021
Consumers who are facing a cash crunch are once again warned to avoid paying upfront fees and falling for sure-fire guarantees when it comes to fixing their credit problems.
The Federal Trade Commission announced a string of actions in the past few months connected to student loan debt relief schemes, mortgage debt relief schemes and credit card repair scams.
In late July, for example, the FTC said it would be mailing 7,786 refund checks averaging about $293 each out of a settlement relating to robocalls and phony credit card rate reduction services. The refund checks will total nearly $2.3 million nationwide.
In Michigan, there were 262 people who were sent refund checks in the Educare Centre Services case, totaling nearly $80,000.
While the refund money is welcome, it just amounts to recouping 39% of the money that consumers lost to that one scheme, according to FTC data.
The refund checks should be deposited or cashed within 90 days. The FTC refund line can be contacted at 833-916-3597. The FTC noted that it never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.
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How were consumers tricked?
The consumers often received a pitch via a robocall. The FTC warned in March 2020 that many of the robocalls preyed upon financial fears during the pandemic to “perpetrate scams or disseminate disinformation.”
The FTC and the Ohio Attorney General alleged that Educare Centre and Tripletel Inc. made false and unfounded promises that they would significantly reduce the interest rates on credit cards.
On top of that, the pitch included a 100% money-back guarantee if the promised rate reduction failed to materialize or if consumers were unhappy with results.
Two companies worked in tandem. The Canadian telecom provider Globex Telecom Inc., according to the complaint, made illegal robocalls to U.S. consumers to promote Educare’s phony rate reduction services. Both companies, according to the FTC, were run by Mohammed Souheil, a Canadian citizen.
In 2010, the FTC amended its Telemarketing Sales Rule to protect consumers seeking debt relief services, like debt settlement or credit counseling.
For-profit companies that sell these services over the telephone are prohibited from charging a fee before they actually settle or reduce a consumer’s debt. It also prohibits debt relief providers from making misrepresentations and requires that they disclose key information that consumers need in evaluating these services.
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The U.S. economy officially recovered from the shortest recession on record, which ran from March 2020 through April 2020, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee.
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