When a Park Hills man returned a call from a company claiming to be able to lower his credit card rates, he found himself talking to a sex chat line.
Calls to lower your credit card rates often are from scammers or unscrupulous companies, but some offers could be legitimate. So, after several calls to “Steve’s” house, his wife told him to stop hanging up and instead listen to what the caller said. He was suspicious, but thought it might be fun to hear their pitch.
The man on the phone said he had a way to reduce Steve’s credit card rates. Then he transferred Steve to a woman.
She told Steve that she would lower his interest rates.
“I don’t believe I have those credit cards,” he said.
“Well my records show that you have a Visa and a Mastercard,” she replied.
Steve knew he had credit cards, but his wife handled the records.
“So, how much do I own on them?” he asked.
Click. She hung up.
Steve thought that response was rather odd, so he checked the caller ID and called the number to check it out.
Instead of getting someone to discuss interest rates, however, his call was answered by a recording.
“You have reached Hypnotic Chat,” the recording says. “If you are not 18, hang up now.”
The recording goes on to discuss choosing from among 99 chat rooms or setting up your own. The recording also warns that there could be strong sexual content and suggests callers refrain from providing personal details, especially credit card numbers.
After disclaimers, the recording warns that anyone under 18 must exit now.
The recording gives a number and name of someone to call with complaints, questions or to set up your own chat room. A man named Rob returned a message left on the answering machine at that number.
“I’ve been having a lot of calls from people who say this number was used in an scam about lowering credit card rates,” Rob said. “Almost all of those calls – sometimes 30 a day – have been from Missouri. I started getting these complaints right after I advertised my phone line for a week on Craig’s List.”
Rob said he has nothing to do with the calls and that the scammer is fraudulently using his phone number. Rob said he runs a “party room” line that is free to callers.
“I put that disclaimer on because anything goes in these rooms,” he said.
That could include sexual “parties” but also could include nonsexual conversations, such as family members from across the country connecting in a room to chat, he said.
According to Rob, he (and others who own party lines) are paid by a Canadian company according to the amount of traffic he generates on the line. The Canadian company gets discounted telephone rates for bulk services based on total usage, Rob claimed.
The more users Rob has, the more money he makes, which is why the phone line is “totally free” he said.
Scammers could just as easily use a number that begins charging for minutes soon after it is called, which would further victimize people who think the scammer is credible and call for more information.
In any case, calls from unidentified people who offer you a break in credit card rates should be ignored, or at least regarded with some skepticism.
If you want your credit card rate changed, it is safer to contact the company yourself and negotiate a lower rate.
The Daily Journal has made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, call us at 431-2010 and tell us what happened. We will include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation. The Daily Journal will run Scam Alert stories in the paper every Monday.