Credit Card Company Service Rep Speaks Out on Credit Card Fraud
This was posted on our message boards and is full of such valuable information, we decided to make it into a full article. It is from a former credit card customer service rep and makes VERY interesting reading.
WHEN YOU CALL A CREDIT CARD COMPANY, I ANSWER THE PHONE...or at least, I used to. After being a customer service rep with a leading national credit card company for approx. 3 months, I couldn't live with their "loan-sharking" practices they DEMANDED of their customers. This company is not hawking secured cards and spends lots of money in direct mail and internet advertising. On average, I answered 200 calls a day and 80% of my calls were enraged customers being "screwed" by the credit card company. One day, I just up and left with a letter of resignation. The point of my message is to offer some information about this company's money-making games and maybe a few tips (I hope I don't state the obvious to you).
HERE GOES: (I wish I still had my training manuals because I would just download some of this company's regulations onto this site.)
I. LATE FEES
SOLUTION: MAIL YOUR PAYMENT IN IMMEDIATELY (OR PAY VIA ON-LINE/OVER THE PHONE) and DO NOT ENCLOSE ANY ADDITIONAL ITEMS EXCEPT FOR YOUR CHECK/MONEY ORDER AND REMITTENCE STUB IN A REGULAR ENVELOPE.
B) PAYING-OFF YOUR ACCOUNT: call and ask for your pay-off balance because you must account for the 7-10 days of daily finance charges compounding on your account while its in the mail and being processed--OR ELSE, you'll still have a balance on your account and have to deal with late fees on a following bill.
TO CALCULATE FINANCE CHARGES:
1) DAILY FINANCE CHARGES (FC):
FC=APR/365 * ADB/100 * # DAYS IN BILLING CYCLE (OR # DAYS WORKING WITH)
EX. AVG.. DAILY BALANCE OF $2000; APR 14.99% AND WANT TO ACCOUNT FOR THE MAX. 10 DAYS TAKES FOR THE CREDIT CARD COMPANY TO POST YOUR PAYMENT:
FC=14.99/365days * $2000/100 * 10 days FC= $8.22
so, pay-off balance (on day you call) would be $2008.22
2) CALCULATE MONTHLY FINANCE CHARGES:
***NOTE: IF YOU WANT YOUR BALANCE TO DECREASE BY, SAY, $100 EACH MONTH, AND YOU WANT TO BEAT THE DAILY COMPOUNDING FINANCE CHARGES, then take your most recent bill's balance and calculate the finance charges using the above formula "calculating monthly finance charges" and add that finance charge to your $100 payment.
Ex. on a $2000 balance @ 14.99%
FC= 14.99/12 * $2000/100
SO, make a payment of $124.99. and repeat this calculation on your next bill's balance because, in essence, your paying next months finance charges this month!! And your principle amt. is decreasing at a fixed amount ($100)
I HOPE this tip wasn't stating the obvious or too confusing.
II. OVER-LIMIT FEES
B) Also, if at any point in the monthly cycle you are ONE DAY LATE--even if it's one day right in the middle of the cycle--you are assessed the over-limit fee.
c) Watch out for the double-whammy: late fee creating an over-limit fee. When I worked there, this combination totaled $58! Plus, finance charges on top of that!
SOLUTION: BE AWARE OF YOUR DAILY BALANCE AND DON'T GET TOO CLOSE TO YOUR CREDIT LIMIT.
III. RAISING YOUR APR
B) Also, watch those introductory rates because in just a few months a 3.99% could "shoot-up" to 19.99%!
C) Also, ONE late payment during your introductory rate equals removal of that intro rate.
IV. UNAUTHORIZED CHARGES
B) As for JUNK MAIL offers enclosed with your bill, Don't throw them away without first reading them. Some offers have been legally known to state (this isn't an exact quote) "if you don't check the refusal box and return it, then we assume you want the product/service and we'll charge it to your acct., immediately" Also, don't cash-in those junk mail checks giving you a dollar-amount credit to your account because by cashing those checks, you've just signed up for some useless service. And an added note, the customer service reps make a commission on any in-house products that we can sell or retain. SOLUTION TO ALL THIS MESS: DEMAND your card company to have your name removed from our list and state, "I do not want my name/address/phone rented, traded, or sold to any in-house or out-of-house companies" and request a confirmation letter to be sent to you so you have it on file.
V. CREDIT CARD COMPANY CLOSES YOUR ACCOUNT
VI. WHEN YOU HAVE A DISPUTE
B) Another option this company's reps could use was to e-mail the complaint to the relevant department (faster than the customer mailing complaints to some vague address), but time and time again I had customers saying they exhausted both of these routes--e-mail & mail--with no luck and their was no way that I could override the problem because I had neither the authorization nor knowledge of how to remedy the problem. Sometimes I just wanted to kick the "tar" (keeping it clean) out of these departments because the resolution was so simple, but, yet, nothing was done!
VII. SECRET TO GETTING FEES WAIVED
1) Play dumb (especially if you have only had one or two fees waived over an extended period of time 6-9 mo): "I never received my bill. Do you have my current/new/correct address?"
2) Remember the last-minute mailing of your bill ploy: "I sent my payment in on (use a date 7-10 days before your due date), so why haven't you received it!!!" or play dumb: "I sent my payment in on (use a date 2-5 days before your due date, I know the mail doesn't take that long to get there!!" or "I sent my payment via air-mail/certified mail so I know it got there on time!" Using these ignorance ploys (though, now you are fully knowledgeable) will be followed with the reps blah-blah-blah that "we don't have control over the postal system and you should mail your payment in 7-10 days before the due date, but just this once I'll waive the fee & any over limit fee this may have caused you."
NOTE: Customer service reps keeps concise net-worked documentation of when you call, what you and the rep talked about, and what action/resolutions were done. So, don't use the same tactic too soon after this waiver (wait 5-6 mo between the exact same ploy).
2) My former employer keeps a running total for the last 24 months of how many fees & finance charges they made off your account. If they've made money (my supervisor had told me it costs the company something like $120 to maintain your account) off of you for at least the amount it costs them to "maintain" -- then state, "If you look at my account history &/or my revolving credit with a high APR, you'll see you've made a lot of money off of me, would you be willing to waive this late/over limit fee for me?"
3) If all else fails, RAISE HELL! Customer service reps are NOT ALLOWED to disconnect (we were diligently & secretly monitored and scored on our performance) a call unless the customer is being verbally abusive and using lots of profanity. So get mad and go on-and-on, the rep will just get sick of hearing you that they'll waive the fee just to shut you up!! Keep in mind that I got 200 calls a day with approx. 80% of them being IRRATE customers, I was starved for satisfied customers that didn't yell or get aggressive.
4) Finally, though the company keeps documentation of all your calls, if refused by the first rep, then HANG-UP and call-back odds are 99.9% certain that you'll get a different rep and maybe you can sweet talk/give a sob story and get the rep to waive the fee.
B) RE-AGING Your account
1) as you may know, re-aging is when they remove a late month(s) status on your credit history, as if turning back the hands of time. If you're able to succeed at getting the fee waived--esp. using the ignorance ploys of when you mailed in your payment--then ensure that your account gets re-aged. WHY? to ensure that your credit history shows that your account was not late (at least for the relevant month on-hand) and to avoid the credit card company's stupid policy that "late twice within the last 6 months equals a huge jump in your APR (19.99% to 22%(?) to 26.99%)" Also to avoid the removal of any low introductory rates.
VIII. MOST IMPORTANTLY
A) READ YOUR DISCLOSURE STATEMENT AND ANY NOTIFICATION OF CHANGES TO THAT DISCLOSURE STATEMENT! This lists all of your credit card company's charges, fees, and everything they will try to do to profit off of you! Reps particularly liked to use this as a cop-out to avoid having to remedy your situation, "blah-blah-blah is stated very clearly in your disclosure statement (in the fine, fine, fine, little print), we advise all customers to read this very carefully."
NOTE: We had to keep our "call-time" down to an average of I believe it was 2.5 minutes with each customer (or we were fired), so get to point when you call and the rep will have a more efficient ability to get all the mess that company created for you resolved (or at least make you think it was resolved.)