Years ago, I started getting recorded phone calls from “Heather”, “Rachel” and others at “account services” about my credit card. Learn how to recognize and avoid the Account Services scam.
Identifying the Account Services Scam
It’s an automated message. If you want to speak to someone you press 1, at which point a man answers. There are a few clues that this is not legitimate.
They don’t say what credit card they’re with
Any credit card or bank would identify themselves by company name.
It comes up “unknown caller” on CallerID with no phone number
Legitimate businesses don’t block their name and number.
When you tell them you know they’re a scam, they get snide
A real business would be concerned if you mistakenly thought they were a scam and say something like, “I assure you we’re not, but I’ll be happy to take you off our list.”
But whenever I’ve said that to these criminals, they respond with something like a chuckle and “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
My number is unpublished and I’m on the Do Not Call list
I don’t get telemarketing calls, so it’s a safe bet unsolicited calls that come through to me are on auto-dialers. Real businesses who have business relationships with you already have your contact info, so they don’t need to auto dial you.
The problem is: not everyone will have all these clues. And some people may be so desperate to lower their interest rates that they won’t be as careful as they should be.
Solutions I tried
When this first started happening, I called the police and spoke to a detective. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much they could do because (a) no crime had been committed and (b) the caller had masked his identity by spoofing other people’s phone numbers. They couldn’t trace the call because a crime needs to have been committed before they can get a warrant.
I also called my phone company (Verizon). They couldn’t do anything to stop him either, but they do offer a paid service that blocks calls from unidentified callers.
Don’t bother with this service. I tried it and it didn’t work. And when I called Verizon to ask about it, they admitted it often doesn’t work.
Besides, these scammers change phone numbers all time. You block one and they call you from another.
How to protect yourself
The most important thing is to recognize these calls as scams. If you think you may be getting a legitimate call from someone who wants to lower your credit card interest, do the following:
Click “1” to speak to an operator. As soon as he comes online, tell him you’re legally required to inform him you’re recording this telephone call.
In my experience, saying that to scammers – even when it’s not true – makes them hang up very quickly. Sometimes they even stop calling you altogether, which is exactly what you want. If they don’t hang up, ask them:
“Who are you calling for?” If they don’t have your name, then they can’t help you with their credit. A real financial service would only call people whose names they have.
It’s a nationwide racket, and authorities need to document enough complaints for police to be able to match up the cases of identity theft that will happen when someone falls for this scam. The police have busted at least one ring responsible for these calls, which is great, but it keeps starting up again.