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Steer Clear of Credit Card Scams

Credit card scams come in all types. Some of them are pretty obvious, while others are ingeniously designed to look legitimate. Some, sad to say, are run by legitimate credit card companies that own banks.

They might call them introductory rates, fees, or minimum payments, but they’re essentially scams designed to take advantage of people.

Anyone Can Fall for Credit Card Scams

The thing is, it’s not just the less-than-intelligent who fall for these scams. It happens to educated, savvy business owners, too.

You’re at your biggest risk when you feel desperate. If your sales have dropped, and you don’t even know how you’re going to pay next month’s lease, then you’re the perfect target for scam artists.

Knowing what types of scams they use, though, will help you steer clear so you can keep your business credit healthy, and make smarter financial choices.

Common Fraud and Credit Card Scams

Learn to identify some common credit card scams operated by criminals and disreputable organizations. Legitimate credit card companies might use questionable practices, but they’re nothing compared to these scams.

+Lower Rate… for a Fee

This scam promises to lower your interest rate, but for a fee. Perhaps you pay $500 for a zero percent rate that lasts a year. This scam is almost always run by criminals pretending that they work for your credit card company, and it is always a scam.

If your credit card company wanted to offer you a lower rate, it wouldn’t charge you an additional fee for it.

+Zero Interest, No Fees!

Some companies offer zero interest credit cards without any fees. How can they afford this? Because they’re not really credit cards. At least not in the typical sense. After signing up for the card, you might find out that you can only use it to buy extremely overpriced items from a specific company’s catalog.

Also, criminals can use your credit card application to access your personal finances, or make fraudulent purchases. The next time you check your checking account, you might find missing money or questionable purchases.

Credit Card Scams From Legitimate Companies

Introductory rates, minimum payments, late fees… call them what you will. Perhaps you could call them legal credit card scams. Here’s why these common credit card traits are essentially scams that could get your small business in serious trouble.

+Minimum Payments

Credit card companies love minimum payments, because it means they make more money. Each time you make a minimum payment, you increase the overall amount that you owe the credit card company. If the minimum becomes your default payment, you could literally spend years paying off as little as $1,000. It will kill your business. Don’t do it.

+Introductory Rates

Are introductory rates a perk that you get for signing up with a new credit card company, or are they lures designed to catch you before reeling you in?

Introductory rates are great for people who use credit cards responsibly. Here’s the problem: people who use credit cards responsibly don’t need low introductory rates, because they don’t carry monthly balances.

If you choose to get a credit card specifically because it has a low introductory rate, you’re scamming yourself. Once the introductory rate ends, you’ll suddenly have to pay a higher percentage on the balance you accrued, because you convinced yourself you could use the card for free.

+Fees of All Kinds

Credit card companies are great at coming up with fee concepts. Pay your bill a day late? That’s a fee. Go over your limit by a penny? That’s another fee.

Today’s fees are much more reasonable than they were before the CARD Act offered consumers more protection. In the 90’s, a company could literally charge you a late fee that put you above your limit, and then charge you an over-limit fee.

Here’s the bad news for small business owners: the CARD Act probably doesn’t protect you. Few credit card companies have the gall to pull the kind of scam mentioned above, but you still have to be very careful. Have no doubt, they will push the legal limits to get more money out of you if they can.


Matt Thompson has written for numerous online and print publications. He has spent time as an editor for a media research company that supplies marketing materials to some of the country's most influential corporations.