Payment Card News

Fraudulent Fraud Protection

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What do you do when fraudulent marketers want to protect you from credit card thieves? Tell them to take a hike! Under federal law, the maximum amount for which a credit cardholder can be held liable for charges they didn’t authorize is $50. In many cases card issuers waive the $50 liability, if the lost or stolen card is reported promptly. Unfortunately many consumers, especially students and senior citizens, are not aware of the protection built in to their credit cards. A few firms have apparently taken advantage of this ignorance. Yesterday the Federal Trade Commission announced a new campaign to stop firms offering fraudulent credit card protection services. As a result the Commission filed complaints against three Arizona-based companies and announced a settlement with a third company in Montreal. According to the FTC complaints, the companies used telemarketers to contact consumers offering what they claimed was credit card protection against loss, theft or Y2K-related problems. The telemarketers allegedly told consumers that they were calling from VISA or MasterCard and said that criminals have been stealing credit card numbers via the Internet or other technology. The complaints also allege that the telemarketers persuaded consumers to divulge their complete credit card numbers by reciting parts of their credit card numbers and requesting the remainder or by claiming to be verifying the consumers’ identification or to be changing security codes on the consumers’ credit cards. Using the credit card info the companies allegedly charged consumers between $200 and $400 for the extra protection. The Arizona firms involved are Source One Publications, Inc, Liberty Direct, Inc., and The Ascendix Group. The Montreal firm which settled is Credit Mart Financial Strategies, Inc. The FTC’s Credit Card Protection Sweep also announced this week a new consumer education campaign to help educate consumers about their credit card rights. Three products have been developed and are available from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center and from the Commission’s web site. The first product is a consumer alert on the general issue of credit card loss protection offers. It cautions consumers “Don’t buy the pitch-and don’t buy the ‘loss protection’ insurance.” The second product is a bookmark designed to help consumers know their rights concerning credit card billing procedures, the Fair Credit Billing Act, and receiving credits when billed items are in dispute. The third product, a brochure in the Commission’s “Facts for Consumers” series provides more detailed information on fair credit billing including the types of disputes covered, what to do if you think your bill is incorrect, and other important consumer billing rights. For more information visit www.ftc.gov or call 1-877-382-4357. The address for the FTC’s Consumer Response Center is Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580;

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