Did you receive robocalls over the past couple of years from a company promising to lower your credit card interest rates? Hopefully you didn’t respond. If you did, you may have been one of the thousands of consumers who lost money to a couple of Florida-based telemarketing groups offering debt relief services they didn’t deliver.
According to a Federal Trade Commission announcement, JPM Acclerated Services and other defendants made thousands of illegal pre-recorded calls to consumers promising to help them lower their credit card interest rates. Since the companies identified themselves only as “card services” in their messages, it’s possible that some people thought these calls where coming from their credit card issuer.
Consumers who responded were transferred to salespeople pitching debt relief services. And not the legitimate kind of debt relief, but the kind where they were charged high upfront fees of $495 to $995. The firms offered a money-back guarantee if they weren’t successful in bringing down client’s interest rates, but allegedly didn’t deliver on the promised savings – nor the refunds. The FTC complaint also charged the defendants with violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule by calling consumers who had listed their numbers on the federal Do Not Call Registry, blocking or “spoofing” caller ID, and making unlawful robocalls.
The settlements imposed money judgments of $5.9 and $3.2 million against the various defendants, but the judgments have been suspended due to the defendant’s inability to pay. The announcement didn’t say whether the consumers who lost money to these schemes were able to have their debts suspended if they were unable to pay them.
Previously: FTC Cracks Down on Fraudulent Credit Card Pitches.
Image: Mollybob, via Flickr.com