There’s something that’s been going on for at least the last 6 to 9 months that I hope no one has fallen for.

What happens is you get a call from someone telling you that there’s something wrong or getting ready to happen to your current credit card, and that you need to talk to them about lowering your interest rate.

If you get these phone calls and pick up the phone, don’t talk to these people. If you get a message asking you to call them back, don’t return the phone call. These are scams, with one of two intentions:

1. Get you to sign up for a new card

2. Get you to give them information you shouldn’t be giving out over the phone

The first is bad enough; the second is truly nothing but trouble. They have multiple ways of getting information out of you if you’re not savvy, such as having you press certain keys, or telling you that they’re from the fraud department of either Visa or Mastercard or something like that.

Here’s the thing, however. When they call, they never tell you which credit card it is that you might be having problems with. That should be your first clue. Some people will ask them which card and then start throwing out the names, in which case they’ve just handed the scammers all the information they need to continue the con. Some people are ready and willing to give out their passwords, pin numbers, and even their checking account numbers to these folks; don’t do it.

In a couple of instances people have been getting mail saying these same sort of things. Just because you’ve received something in the mail doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. Once again, most of the emails come without any information on them except a phone number or website address, which means it’s a scam because it didn’t come from your bank. You should know what the mailings from your bank or credit card look like; if you get something that doesn’t fit that, disregard it, or pull out your phone book (does anyone still use phone books? If not, look up the number on the internet) and call the bank directly, and you’ll probably find out 99% of the time that it was a scam.

If you’re contacted out of the blue by anyone who wants to talk about your credit cards or bank account, always be wary. If they can’t tell you some things without you telling them something, hang up and call your institution on your own. Better safe and rude than sorry and poor.