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As if you needed another reason to be weary of credit cards from unknown sources, the Federal Trade Commission has shut down the operation known as Apogee One Enterprises and Marquee Marketing. The company was found guilty of doling out platinum cards that weren’t what they claimed to be. It turns out that the platinum credit cards with limits up to $9,500 were only usable through the company’s website, even though the company claimed that users could purchase items wherever Visa, American Express, and MasterCard were accepted.
The company seems to have preyed on those that didn’t have good credit by not only offering high credit limits, but also be claiming they would report to the three major credit bureaus. In other words, it was supposedly a way for debtors to build up their credit. Unfortunately, the company never reported to any of the credit bureaus.
Applicants were asked to pay a one-time $99 fee and $19 per month in order to enjoy the “benefits” the company had to offer. However, the only benefits that customers saw was the ability to purchase off-brand items that were highly overpriced through the company’s store.
The FTC became involved when a red flag was raised by the number of people complaining about the company performing unauthorized bank account deductions. The FTC then froze the accounts associated with the company and has required the company to pay a 7.5 million settlement. The FTC has also banned those in charge of the company from ever setting up another telemarketing or credit service.
Financial experts state that consumers can help protect themselves from this type of fraud by making smarter credit decisions. In this case, many of the applicants were found through payday loan websites. When the consumer filled out the application, they were then contacted by the company about the credit card. Another way to protect yourself is to be cautious of companies that don’t check your credit, but require bank account information. Many applicants bank accounts were charged even though an account hadn’t been opened. You should also make sure to read the fine print of any credit application you fill out as it can hide important details companies don’t want you to know. Lastly, don’t be lured in by a card’s color. These terms are not government regulated and have nothing to do with your level of credit.
Guest post by Amy Brantley. Amy began her freelance writing career in 2006 and has been published with a number of companies, including Woman’s Day and MSNBC.