The statistics are scary. According to the Federal Trade Commission one in ten people will fall victim to fraud. NewsChannel 11 talked with two Lubbockites who know it first hand.
Let's start with Jacob Galvin who essentially was scammed into paying $250 for a piece of paper! Jacob is a newlywed and new father who is trying to build up credit in order to build his family a home. When an offer came his way by phone for a $2,000 credit line with no interest for two years and no annual fees, it sounded good. He explains what he was told saying, "All you do is pay $250 for processing fees and that's it."
As easy as that...or was it? Jacob was promised repeatedly his $250 would be refunded if he decided not to take the offer once he received his credit card in the mail. But what he got in the mail wasn't a credit card at all. Jacob says, "Basically all it was was an application for a pre-paid credit card."
Jacob had been duped by a company called Centurion Financial. He called to see about his refund, but the voice on the other end said absolutely no refunds and he was never promised a credit card. Jacob says, "They had me... I knew they had me."
For Tammy Houk it was fraud of the old-fashioned kind. She says, "My balance had went up. I've never charged on it." But someone had charged on Tammy's Discover card...someone from Las Vegas, Nevada. When we asked Tammy if she had been to Las Vegas, she replied, "Yeah, but not in the last five years. I've only had this credit card four months!"
Tammy promptly got on the phone with Discover who said they'd remove the charges. They told her thieves have been using account numbers' first four digits, which are always the same, and the last four digits seen on receipts and then simply guessing the rest! Tammy says, "It's scary. You've got to look at your statements."
Both Tammy and Jacob say the key to protecting yourself is in your hands. In Jacob's case, he wishes he had done his research on Centurion before he leapt. He says, "I feel stupid honestly. I'm a pretty sharp guy and to be taken like this... I can't believe it."
Jacob is trying to fight back. His bank is attempting track down whose hands his money ended up in. He has contacted the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Lubbock Police Department. Jacob is not the only one who has been taken by Centurion Financial scam artists. Complaints about them are all over the Internet.
Consumers should know it is illegal for a company to demand up front payment in exchange for credit. Right. Advance-fee loan or credit card scams are the most frequently reported. Again, that's when a consumer pays a fee ahead of time for a supposedly guaranteed loan or card.