Let’s explain how this scam worked by quoting the FTC after these two scammers were exposed:
CompuCredit Corporation, a company marketing Visa and MasterCard credit cards to consumers in the subprime credit market, has agreed to reverse fees charged to eligible consumers accounts to settle allegations that it violated federal law. It is estimated that the redress program will result in more than $114 million in credits to consumer accounts. Eligible consumers whose current balances are less than the amount of credits to be applied will receive an estimated $3.7 million in cash refunds.
In a federal court complaint filed in June 2008, the Federal Trade Commission alleged that CompuCredit engaged in deceptive conduct in connection with marketing credit cards. The FTC also alleged that Jefferson Capital Systems, LLC, a debt collection company wholly-owned by CompuCredit, engaged in deceptive conduct in marketing credit cards as part of its debt collection activities and engaged in abusive practices while collecting debts.
“This settlement is a big win for consumers,” said Lydia B. Parnes, Director of the FTCs Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When signing up for a credit card, consumers have the right to know the truth about the amount of credit they are getting and the cost of that credit up front.”
According to the FTCs complaint, CompuCredit marketed credit cards, primarily through direct mail solicitations, under various brand names, including Aspire, Aspire A Mas, FreedomCard, Tribute, Imagine, Majestic, Aspen, Emerge and Fingerhut Credit Advantage. These cards generally fit into three categories:
Fee-based credit card with $300 limit. According to the FTC, CompuCredit marketed to consumers with subprime credit ratings a credit card with a purported $300 credit limit, using solicitations that stated certain up-front fees that did not apply. Rather than provide consumers with $300 of available credit, CompuCredit immediately charged consumers as much as $185 in fees that it did not adequately disclose in light of the representations made. These fees left consumers with as little as $115 in available credit.
Credit card with “up to $3,250″ limit. As alleged by the FTC, CompuCredit marketed to consumers with slightly higher credit scores its credit card purporting to offer “up to $3,250″ in available credit. CompuCredit failed to disclose, or failed to disclose adequately, that half of the available credit would be withheld for the first 90 days. CompuCredit also failed to disclose, or failed to disclose adequately, that for the first 90 days, the company would monitor consumers purchases, and might reduce their credit limit based on an undisclosed “behavioral” scoring model.
Debt-transfer credit card program. According to the complaint, CompuCredit and Jefferson Capital marketed a credit card to consumers with charged-off debt. CompuCredit and Jefferson Capital represented that the consumers old debt balance would be immediately transferred to the card and reported to consumer reporting agencies as paid in full. Consumers who accepted the offer, however, were immediately enrolled in a debt repayment plan and did not receive a credit card until they paid 25 percent to 50 percent of their charged-off debt.