In the world of credit cards, there are plenty of people who are desperate to borrow money, and just as many people who are desperate to get back out of debt again. Given that, it’s not surprising that the industry is full of scams. Here are some to keep an eye out for.
The Debt Advisors
Be very careful if you’re offered ‘free debt advice’. There are many government bodies, legitimate financial companies and charities that give good advice, but the ones who do a lot of advertising tend to be owned or partnered with people you don’t want to know. If the advice you get is to sign up for another loan from one company in particular, don’t believe it – the chances are that the person you’re talking to is just a salesman in disguise.
The Identity Thieves
If you don’t keep track of your credit card statements and your credit report, then you could be in for a surprise. It’s not that hard for someone else to apply for a credit card, pretending to be you, or to get the number of a card you already have and start buying things with it. Then, of course, they get free money, and you’re left with the debt, not to mention the black marks against your name when it doesn’t get paid back.
The Catalogue Card
This is a scam that’s especially common around Christmas time. A company offers you a ‘credit card’, with a much higher limit than you’d usually qualify for. The catch, of course, is that you can only use it to buy things from their catalogue, at inflated prices. This is nothing but a clever way of offering you expensive finance on purchases from them.
The Only Game in Town
More exploitative lenders might realize that they’re really the only company that’s going to be offering some people any credit at all. They’ll send offers to desperate people for absolutely terrible deals, with the highest interest rates they can get away with, and no benefits whatsoever. These people will accept the offer without even reading it, relieved that finally someone out there offered them credit – and their debts get even harder to ever pay off.
The Insurance Charge
Here’s one that even the most reputable lenders go in for – trying to sell you useless insurance. This is usually an insurance premium that is automatically added to your interest each month, and covers you against very unlikely things, like dying and not being able to pay back your debt. It is almost never worth ticking the box to buy insurance.
The Secured Card.
A secured card is one that requires you to make a deposit before you can use it – a deposit that can sometimes be as much as the limit on the card itself. Secured cards can be a good way of rebuilding your credit when it’s all gone wrong, but don’t take one from a lender you’ve never heard of. With more unscrupulous companies, you will often be charged an annual fee, an application fee, and any other fee they can think of, all of which are added to your debt. Don’t let it happen to you.