Check This Credit-Card Rip-Off
Fraudsters promise you lower rates. All they want in return is your checking info
By Joan Caplin

(MONEY Magazine) – If you're a credit-card holder stuck with high interest rates, it can seem like the answer to your prayers. You get a call from "Prime One Financial" or "Credit Card Services" telling you that you've been pre-approved for a MasterCard or Visa. The rate is locked in and reasonable, and you're eligible for a line of credit. To qualify, however, you must have a checking account. That means giving the folks at "Prime One" your account number so they can verify it and also debit a one-time $299 "processing fee."

Many of the people bilked in this scam—about 4.5 million last year—got nothing. Others got a credit card good for stuff in the mail-order catalogue that accompanied it. If you are a victim, call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP. Remember: It's illegal for a company to ask you for money before giving you credit or a credit card. —JOAN CAPLIN