Old 'guaranteed' credit
resurfaces with elderly as targets
billion dollars in credit ... and nobody applying for it!" screams
an advertisement guaranteeing approval for a charge card with a
super-low fixed interest rate.
Unfortunately, there are people applying, and
some of them are paying big bucks to do so -- only to find that
the forms are phony and the promises empty.
It's an old scam that has resurfaced, and the
victims are elderly people and folks with poor credit.
"This has happened a lot over the last five
years," says Judy Brown, senior vice president of Pulaski Bank and
Trust in Little Rock, Ark. "It seems like it kinda goes in cycles."
Brown has been getting calls lately from people
in Delaware, Tennessee, Texas and other states who paid for a packet
of credit card applications from various banks after receiving sales
calls from Y2K Credit Solutions Inc.
applications looked real
The applications turned out to be copies, but some of them
looked so real that Brown says the bank processed them. "They were
declined, and some of the people called to ask why because they
had been told they were guaranteed a credit card," she says.
If you have been a victim of a telemarketing
scheme, or suspect one, call the National Fraud Information
Center at 1-800-876-7060. The NFIC
Web site is a good source of information and advice
on fraud against the elderly, common scams, how to handle
tough telemarketers, file complaints, take your name off
calling lists and more.
"But we only approve 20 to 25 percent of applications
that come in here because our underwriting standards are so strict,"
she says. "We're very conservative."
The Mountain States Better
Business Bureau in Colorado started receiving complaints about
Y2K Credit Solutions in February and alerted its members, as well
as the attorney general in Wyoming, where the company has a P.O.
The BBB said Y2K is selling the credit applications
for $15, plus $4.95 for shipping and handling, payable by money
order or cashier's check.
But apparently some people are getting swindled
for a lot more.
"One woman said she had paid $380 to get a packet
of low-rate credit card offers," says Brown. "She gave them her
checking account number so they could debit her account."
victims were elderly
Brown said most of the victims were elderly. "I hate it that
these consumers are getting ripped off," she says. "And it makes
the bank look bad."
Y2K Credit's print advertisement lists a phone
number with an area code in Alberta, Canada, that is "either invalid
or has been changed," a phone company recording says. The 800 number
on the company's letterhead is answered by a recorded message that
requests the caller's name, address and phone number.
Holly Anderson, spokeswoman for the National
Consumers League, says many fraudulent telemarketers set up
base in Canada.
"We find a lot of the advance-fee loan scams
come out of there," she says. "That's because it's harder to prosecute
across the border."
fees should send up a red flag
Bogus credit card offers that require upfront fees is one of
the most common telemarketing cons.
Many people are duped because the callers are
cunning. "They're effective and they're pushy," says Anderson. "They
know how to make people feel good."
She advises folks who are considering card offers
from telemarketers to first check with their local Better
Business Bureau and the National Consumer League's National
Fraud Information Center for reports on the company.
Regardless, requests for money in advance should
raise a red flag for consumers.
"It's a scam if anybody is asking for money
upfront," Anderson says. "The one exception to that is a secured
card. If they are a legitimate company, they will charge it to the
-- Posted: April 3, 2000