A Kiplinger reader shares his strategy for getting ridiculous rate increases on his three credit cards rolled back to their original rates. It’s a technique that’s probably familiar to a lot of Consumerist readers when negotiating for lower rates in general: be polite but unyielding, know where you stand as far as leverage (it helps to have a perfect history with the company), start with basic customer service, and then escalate as needed.
Almost every time we write about fraud or identity theft, savvy readers will point out in the comments that many card companies offer temporary credit cards—virtual accounts tied to your real one that expire after one use, or a few days, or after a certain spending limit is reached. We thought it might be a good time to remind readers about these services, as well as password-protected and so-called “anonymous” credit cards.
I’m challenging a charge on my Citibank card right now and have to fill out paperwork for their records. The second page of the form I’m filling in tells me to mail the form back to PO Box 6035, The Lakes, NV, 89163-6035. The self-addressed envelope they provided me with to mail the form back in? It has an address of PO Box 6013, Sioux Falls, SD, 57117-6013. A bit different, don’t you think? I’m just going to copy the form and mail it to both. I have 10 days to get this back to them, so I’m sure that having two separate addresses helps to deny claims i.e. “We never got your paperwork.”
Maybe sneaky, maybe honest mistake, either way, just another reason you definitely gotta scrutinize every line of fine print when you’re dealing with a bank.
Here’s a different kind of rewards card, instead furthering more material consumption, the Brighter Planet Visa card lets you earn “EarthSmart” points. These points are automatically used every month to fund renewable energy projects. Every 1,000 points funds about 1 ton of carbon offsets. (Carbon offsets are a way of breaking the cost of planting trees, reclaiming methane, building windmills, etc, into purchasable units). There’s a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months, 9.99% or 15.99% APR thereafter, depending on your credit score. You get to feel good, renewable energy gets funded, and Visa and Bank of America get good PR –win-win-win-win. Gotta wonder, if you default on your payments, will they pull the trees out of the ground?
Last Sunday’s 60 minutes had a report by Lesley Stahl about the now-infamous TJX data breach.
If one of the goals of credit card marketing is to give customers the illusion of choice and control, then Capital One has just outdone itself with its new Card Lab, where you can construct the card offer you desire from a menu of options. Your available options are determined by which general credit score category you pick: Excellent, Above Average, Needs Improvement, or Limited History. When you select certain options, others go away. At the end, you’ve self-selected the “perfect” offer, and possibly saved yourself from the hundreds of thousands of junk mailings* Capital One would otherwise send to you on a daily basis.
A computer glitch at Kmart leads to everyone being granted store credit cards – and a large-scale brawl erupting.. Two women started scrapping and then several men got involved. A Kmart worker was punched in the nose and smashed through a glass display case. Customers were calling up friends and telling them to come down to get the “free money,” $850 to $4000 in credit After applications ran out, one customer grabbed more from another Kmart and started selling them in the parking lot for $20 a pop. Watch out, when the American Dream is a blue-light special, consumers are liable to get bloodthirsty.
The Red Tape Chronicles details a credit card scam where an ebook company fraudulently charges consumers for ebooks they never ordered. Oddly, when you find the company’s hidden “customer service” number, they’re very quick to issue refunds. Using eBooks is clever, too. That way, if they’re raided, the only inventory they will have to show are a few digital files It’s almost like they know how to just skirt on the edge of the law… hmm…chin scratch….
JH: You know why? Because you’re not captive on a plane.
The obvious next evolution is that customers can opt to sit in a part of plane that doesn’t have hear the credit card offers, provided they pay a small additional fee.
When TJX revealed earlier this year that they’d failed to keep safe over 45 million customer credit card accounts, they were hit with both consumer and bank class action lawsuits. Now they’ve submitted a proposed settlement for the consumer class action suit that includes a strange, somewhat insulting offer: a “one-day sale” for victims of the theft. Attorneys general from eight states have filed an objection against the proposal, citing that even if it’s a well-intentioned goodwill gesture, it doesn’t belong as part of any official, legal settlement, which should be designed to benefit the victims rather than the retailer.
The recently reported TJ Maxx security breach—where data on 94 million credit card accounts was stolen in 2003, 2004, and 2006—has ended up costing the company $200 million and counting. But although it’s the biggest example so far of retail data theft, TJ Maxx isn’t the only retailer doing a poor job of keeping sensitive data protected from hackers. One wireless security vendor recently surveyed thousands of stores and discovered that a significant number of retailers don’t practice good wireless security:
Punny Money has a neat, simple trick for protecting yourself from restaurant tip fraud, which is when a waiter will change the numbers on your credit card receipt in order to increase his tip. The best way to prevent it is to match all your monthly receipts to your statement, but you can use this simple checksum technique to scan a statement and quickly spot any suspicious transactions without referring to your receipts.
“I am 19, and have never owned a credit card, only debit cards. I have had a 47.50 (or so) debt in the past due to a large overdue fine to a Hollywood Video. I took my sweet time in paying that off and now after one credit card refusal, I expect that it has damaged my otherwise non-existent (to my knowledge) credit score, which (if I understand things right) puts me in a heck of a hole. How do I get out of it? I’m assuming that not building any credit, then going into debt just messed me up and I need to know how to get things right, but if I can’t get a card, how can I get good credit? This is a really unpleasant situation, especially with Christmas coming around.
The Kansas City Star reports the amount of time people have to pay their credit card bills keeps getting smaller, increasing the likelihood of incurring late fees, late fees which have been rising in cost over the years. Consumers used to have 30 days. Then it was 25. Now companies are moving towards 20. Furthermore, the date starts when they issue the bill, and it can then take 2-4 days to reach you. Cattle prods towards customers using online bill pay, death by a thousand fees. Keep an eye on those due dates, you never know when they’ll magically shrink again.
HSBC warned today that the subprime meltdown is spreading into credit cards and other types of consumer loans, says the NYT. The bank announced that it will be taking a larger write down than it forecast, due to the spreading delinquencies.
Brandon writes:“In January 2007, I was traveling in Mexico and was mugged, having my wallet and passport stolen. By the time I got back to the hotel and began calling my credit card companies to cancel, the criminal had charged close to $3,000 on my CHASE Circuit City Visa card. I explained to CHASE that the charges were fraud, and they sent me a fraudulent charge affidavit to complete and have notarized. As I couldn’t take care of this until I returned from my trip, and had more important things like a passport to worry about, I waited a few weeks before completing the paperwork and during those weeks received about 2 calls a day from CHASE urging me to send the documents.”
Wise Bread has an interesting post detailing 7 reason why one of their writers uses her credit card for everything. She finds it a useful tool for maximizing efficiency. Everything is all in one place! If you don’t carry a balance and are good with a budget, why not use a credit card as an organizational tool?
“I talked to you briefly on 10-29-07 about my Chase credit card and having the late fee forced onto my account due to them changing the due date on my bill and an article was written about my success. I had spoken with a CSR and I had thought I got my late free removed, and my due date changed. Only to find out this months statement to have my due date again on the 26th but now my minimum payment was jacked up to over 3x the normal because THEY HAD NOT REMOVED THE LATE FEE.”