There is a new scam showing up in mailboxes.
It takes the form of an offer for a “secure” credit card, and it targets people with low credit scores or other financial issues.
A “secure” credit card is a credit card where the cardholder puts up some of their own money as collateral against the credit line. It allows lenders to extend credit to higher-risk consumers at a lower annual percentage rate, and can actually be a good tool for rebuilding credit (timely payment of debts makes up a large portion of your credit score). We actually offer a secured credit card here at REGIONAL. They’re a legitimate financial tool.
Except for when they’re used as the basis for a scam.
This one comes from AmTrade International Bank, with an implied connection to Credit One Bank, N.A. (there is none). Victims select a card with either a $1,500 or $3,600 credit limit, and then send in $500 or $900 (respectively) as “collateral” for the credit lines.
And the credit cards never arrive. At its core, this is the simplest form of scam: take money, disappear.
This exact same scam showed up earlier in the year, from Freedom 1st National Bank, which also implied a link to Credit One. In both cases, victims instantly found themselves robbed of either $500 or $900.
If you get offers for pre-approved credit cards in the mail, it is vital to verify all claims before making a purchase decision and sending personal information and money.
In fact, I’ll just put it out there now: don’t respond to unsolicited pre-approved offers for “secure” credit cards, at all.
Also, never just send money to an unknown entity, for any reason.
This scam is going to keep popping up, with different fake banks running it each time, and law enforcement is going be playing whack-a-mole for quite some time. In the meantime, it’s on each of us to look out for ourselves.
- Wisebread: Don’t Get Taken by the Latest Secure Credit Card Scam
- Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: Unauthorized Banking: AmTrade International Bank