Beware of RoboCall Credit Card Debt Reduction Scam – AFL Financial Services Settles With FTC

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Telemarketers call all the time.  They call you when you’re at dinner, watching your favorite TV show, or when you’re trying to have an important conversation with someone.  Annoying? Sure, but for the most part we realize they are just trying to do their jobs. However, not all telemarketers are well-intentioned folks.  The FTC recently settled with a group of telemarketers who were swindling customers through robocalling efforts centered around debt relief.  

The claims for these types of scams are always quite substantial.  The scam in question in this federal case was run by a company that often used the name AFL Financial Services, or AFL. For $995, the consumer could get assistance from the company that could drastically reduce their credit card interest rates and thus save them “lots of money”.  However, it wasn’t long before consumers learned that the company did not actually provide any money-saving services.

The program also falsely claimed that customers should see a drastic reduction in their debt, but if they did not, they would receive a refund.  During the investigation, authorities concluded that the scam took in about $13 million from their customers, but no refunds were ever issued.

Though it is good news that this robocalling operation was shut down, there are many other robocalling scams that are operating in America and throughout the world.  Each of these scams could take in tens of thousands of customers and millions of dollars in revenue from unsuspecting customers.

How the Robocalling Scam Worked

From a customer’s perspective, the calls start out innocently enough.  As the recorded message tells you that you can lower your interest rates, most debtors begin to imagine and prepare for all of the money they will save and the changes they would be able to make to their monthly budgets, with the help of the service. One of the warning signs of the offer was that the callers usually did not know the names of the banks where the cards were, and they have little to no interest in what the rates on those cards were, but yet could still guarantee that they would lower them significantly.  In this and many similar scams, the caller is more concerned with trying to get you to pay money to get your debt diminished.

Because the plan sounds so intriguing, it is no surprise that people are drawn to it, however, you should consider what a scam sounds like and how to discern what programs are worth doing and which will likely just result in a waste of time and money. 

How to Avoid Scams When Choosing Debt Management Services

First, you want to use a program that guides you through the debt-management process.  This means that a credit counselor will show you how to negotiate with your creditors, or they will negotiate on your behalf.  If there is anything that causes a problem for consumers, it is the idea that some systems could be legitimate.  You won’t know until you try, but, when you find a program that makes sense for you, you will likely not be robocalled constantly.  This is because they are gunning for your confidence and your money as hard as possible. When you are contacted, you will also be contacted by a real person and not an answering service.

The next step is to make sure that you have done everything you can do to make the robocalling stop. Yes, you can keep them at bay by not answering the phone, but you should also find a way to get your number on the “Do Not Call” list so you will be able to ensure that unwanted companies are not calling you.

If you fear that you might get pulled in by a good-sounding scam, you should always ask a few things of the person who calls you:

  • 1.  Which bank are you with? (multiple times throughout the call)
  • 2.  How much is this going to cost me?

When you are paying to get your debt erased, you are buying into something that is not real.  Paying for the services of a debt counselor who can show you how to eliminate and repair debt is a good investment in your financial well-being.

If you are being called when you are on the “Do Not Call” list, you can report that company to the FTC. Also, if you feel as though someone is attempting to scam you, you can report them to the FTC as well. Globally, these scams are a problem because the tough economic circumstances make it very easy for people to be susceptible to such schemes. Part of stopping these types of scams is dependent on people that report them. Many times, they go unreported because consumers are embarrassed that they were taken in. This only allows the scamming to continue.

Finally, if at any moment you feel that you are working with a company that may not be above-board, you can call on your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been complaints against the company in question.  If there are not and you feel that you are in the middle of a scam, you need to ensure that you are the first to file a complaint against said company.

The only way to stop robocalling and keep yourself protected from their schemes, like the $13 million scheme that was recently settled, is to be on your guard and research companies you are not familiar with thoroughly before agreeing to doing business with them.  You should be vigilant in keeping your debt under control, but you should also be vigilant in knowing that the services are paying for are legitimate as well.

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2 Responses to “Beware of RoboCall Credit Card Debt Reduction Scam – AFL Financial Services Settles With FTC”

  1. Billy Goates Says:

    If you want information on this scam and the people behind it I recommend checking out this website:
    http://onthespotblog.com/the-hunt-for-rachel-at-cardholder-services/

    The players we know that are now involved, including names and cities are:
    Ambrosia Web Design LLC, Chris Ambrosia, Mesa, Arizona
    American Debt Negotiators, Ran David Barnea, Boca Raton, Florida
    Associated Accounting Specialists Inc., William R. Page, Port Saint Lucie, Florida
    Castle Rock Capital Management, Roy M. Cox, Laguna Niguel, California
    Concord Financial Advisors LLC, Lee Cestine, Mesa, Arizona
    Financial Services Solutions LLC, CEO Unknown, New York, New York
    PHL International, Mark Burton, Deerfield Beach, Florida
    Premiere Debt Solutions, CEO Unknown, Orlando, Florida
    Red Leaf Capital LLC, Leroy Castine, Mesa, Arizona

    I have received more than 150 (I have them documented) calls from these scum sucking criminals. I have filed more that 50 complaints with the FTC however due to the fact that they hide behind spoofed numbers I doubt that they will ever stop any of them. They ask for up front fees and charge your credit card without performing any services.

    A special thanks to a reply from MGD at dslreports.com which gives great insight as well:

    “Some on your list have already been the subject of FTC action, such as Roy M. Cox of Castle Rock Capital Management. Not surprisingly, many are habitual repeat offenders, and are the subject of multiple FTC actions. FTC action is grossly inadequate in these cases. The millions of unsolicited “Heather” “Rachel” et all, Card Services robo calls will not begin to subside until these criminals are charged with Federal Felonies, are convicted and subjected to significant jail time.

    Civil action by the FTC against such criminals is totally ineffective. All of those involved know that they are violating FTC regulations. The FTC prohibits unsolicited calls for any kind of debt / interest rate reductions which require up front fees, period, and that is what these robo calls are about. The FTC civil actions have been nothing more than whack-a-mole interference. Which is why numerous individuals are the subject of repeated actions, despite signing prior agreements that prohibit future involvement. The FTC levies huge fines, then rescinds them based on inability to pay. The FTC settles for the minimal cash on hand, and enjoins them from future “telemarketing”. The criminals sign off, then go right back to business. The entire operations are clearly criminal, intent to defraud, etc, and should be dealt with in criminal court and not by civil actions.

    The banking system is also at fault here, without merchant accounts and ACH processing these criminals could not collect the scammed funds. Though the criminals use obfuscation, layered corporations, multiple bank accounts and offshore stashing, patterns of obvious fraudulent activity become apparent after a short time.

    If you are interested in obtaining useful tracking information on the callers, I suggest another angle in the conversations. Act very interested in the rate reduction scam, as you have multiple high interest cards with large balances. Tell them that you don’t give out card numbers in response to unsolicited calls. However, tell them that if they provide you with a verifiable number that you will then call them back and provide the info.

    Since many of the operatives work on commission they will provide direct contact numbers if they believe you are serious about completing the deal. Verified return phone numbers are an excellent tool in tracking the people behind the operations.

    Many of the inbound robo call numbers are spoofed, as most of the bolierhouses, both off and on shore, are using Voip SIP Trunks services. Throwaway DID numbers are also used. Some of the robocalling is operated by the end use scammers directly. Others are contract services who earn a referral fee once you are transferred to the scammers.

    In a follow up post I will document one group associated with the Rachel “Card Services” and the pond scum, including a lawyer behind one of the operations. Follow the money ….. track the recipients … and take a close look at the processors and banks involved.”

  2. Why Bother Says:

    Nothing that you do will stop them from calling you. The major players behind this have made millions of dollars, which means that they are too big to fail.
    One of the major players specializes in aiding the rich with tax evasion and shell corporations set up in Belize. You can bet that the well to do in this country are not getting lower your credit card interest rate calls and due to that fact our government just considers a few phone calls a minor annoyance.
    The FCC has temporarily halted 5 of the minor non profitable boiler rooms. They will receive a slap on the wrist and be back at it within a few days. In the meantime the calls will continue since the major money is being made with what is called a CNAM revenue-sharing program through companies like http://www.telephonemanagement.net
    In their own words: Every day your company makes thousands of outbound phone calls. Every one of those calls generates revenue for many companies, why not yours? Our CNAM revenue-sharing program helps you make money every time a Caller ID request is made by a phone carrier. A high-traffic call center can lose hundreds to thousands of dollars a day to phone carriers by allowing them to charge for access to your own data.

    You can now see why the criminals keep calling even though they know you won’t fall for their scam. If someone does make the mistake of answering the phone and falling for their con then it is just icing on the cake for them. These people are the lowest form of filth on this planet. The only way to stop this is to contact the FBI and ask why this crime family is allowed to operate and facilitate the ongoing criminal operations. This is one of the reasons that the RICO act was put in place, so why aren’t they using it. Is this because this isn’t a high profile, news worthy operation or is the FBI too understaffed and busy with Homeland Security issues. Maybe if we were rich they would take this seriously, but then if we were rich we would be using that criminal organizations services and protecting them instead of trying to shut them down.
    There is a blog site that has information on one of these operations: http://telemarketerspam.wordpress.com

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