Protecting Yourself Against Secured Credit Card Marketing Scams
HOW TO AVOID THE SCAM
To avoid being victimized, look for the following signs:
- Offers of easy credit. No one can guarantee to get you credit. Before deciding whether to give you a credit card, legitimate credit providers examine your credit report.
- A call to a ‘900’ number for a credit card. You pay for calls with a ‘900’ prefix — and you may never receive a credit card.
- Credit cards offered by “credit repair” companies or “credit clinics.” These businesses also may offer to clean-up your credit history for a fee. However, you can correct genuine mistakes or outdated information yourself by contacting credit bureaus directly. Remember that only time and good credit habits will restore your credit worthiness.
If you’re considering a secured card as a way to build or re-establish a credit record, make sure the issuer reports to a credit bureau. Your credit history is maintained by companies called credit bureaus; they collect information reported to them by banks, mortgage companies, department stores, and other creditors. If your card issuer doesn’t report to a bureau, the card won’t help you build a credit history.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To build a credit record, you may want to apply for a charge card or a small loan at a local store or lending institution. Ask if the creditor reports transactions to a credit bureau. If they do — and if you pay back your debts regularly — you will build a good credit history.
If you cannot get credit on your own, you can ask a relative or friend with a good credit history to act as your cosigner. The cosigner promises to repay the debt if you don’t.
If you’re having problems paying bills, you may want to contact a credit counseling service. Non-profit organizations in every state counsel consumers who are in debt. Counselors try to arrange a repayment plan that is acceptable to you and your creditors. They also can help you set up a realistic budget. These counseling services are offered at little or no cost to consumers. You can find the office nearest you by checking the White Pages of your telephone directory.
Sometimes, non-profit counseling programs are operated by universities, military bases, credit unions, and housing authorities. They are likely to charge little or nothing for their services. Or you can check with your local bank or consumer protection office to see if it has a list of reputable low-cost financial counseling services.