After receiving one of those robocalls touting the ability to lower the interest rates on my credit cards, I could’t help to find out exactly what their angle was. It turns out that the company calling was Financial Consulting Services. I decided to play along to see exactly what it is that this company does.
The sales representative informed me that they could reduce the interest rates on all of my credit cards to 6.9%. I was intrigued as he claimed they were authorized by Visa and Mastercard to lower the interest rates on all of my credit cards.
Having been in the credit counseling industry for nearly a decade, I was unaware of this “authorization.” I tried to determine what exactly the company would do for me, John Q. Customer.
He said that as long as I owed at least $3,500 that I would qualify. That appears to be a common threshold for many credit counseling or debt management programs. However, he said that it was not debt management.
I asked if it was debt settlement. To this question, he also told me “no.” It also was not a debt consolidation loan. OK, I must admit, I had my doubts at this point and wanted to know more. Because he could not answer my questions, he consulted with his supervisor. I couldn’t even get a definitive answer on who the company was. All he could provide was the telephone number, which was 888-559-2126.
The supervisor went into the same script but refused to answer my questions. He did at least clarify what company they were calling on behalf of, which was Financial Consulting Services.
When I asked for clarification on what the company actually could do for me, this supervisor became very combative. He asked me if I was interested in lowering my interest rates. I said, who isn’t, but I was still unsure exactly what services he was selling. He said I should stop wasting their time. Twice he told me that I should just “hang it.” At that point, I requested his name four times. Ultimately, all I heard was a dial tone. I guess he decided to “hang it.”
Of course, I wanted to know more about Financial Consulting Services. Since I had the telephone number and the company name, I was able to track down the company. I called customer service to inform them of the rude solicitation and to request more information.
The representative I spoke with was very cordial and apologized for the unprofessional treatment that I had received from a supervisor. She clarified some of the things I had been told by the sales rep.
First, they were not authorized by VISA and Mastercard to lower my interest rates on all of my credit cards the way that the representative claimed. Instead, they were simply authorized to contact the companies on my behalf. Anyone can call your creditors on your behalf if you give them written authorization. That does not mean that they can do anything more for you.
Secondly, she told me that their fees were based on the amount of the savings received by the consumer. I was unable to get any exact clarification on how this was calculated.
Third, she confirmed that while they do some debt management programs, that this was only a small percentage of their business.
She did offer to research the call to determine who I had spoken with. She agreed that the supervisor had behaved in an unprofessional manner.
Their script is apparently geared toward railroading you into a “qualification” session. The supervisor and the original sales representative both responded with the same vague answers that really didn’t address the questions.
What Does Financial Consulting Services Do?
I researched the company to find out more about who they are and what they actually do. First of all, Financial Consulting Services lists the following address:
- 616 Corporate Way, Suite 2, #3449, Valley Cottage, NY 10989
The Better Business Bureau classifies this company as a financial services company. The BBB also gave an “F” rating to Financial Consulting Services, with 7 complaints.
The company appears to have intentionally targeted the unaffiliated Financial Consulting Services, LLC of Glendale, Arizona by using the same name. A representative at Financial Consulting Services, LLC confirmed that their attorney had notified the company to cease using their name. The website www.fcs_intl.com has since been taken offline.
Similar schemes have been reported under the names FLS Resources and Genesis Capital Management.
The scheme works like this. An automatic dialer plays a recording that invites you to speak with a representative about lowering your credit card interest. The firm offers to be able to lower your interest rates through authorizations they have received from major credit card companies. If you consent, they place a charge of between $800 and $1,000 on your credit card. If that doesn’t sound the fire alarm, I don’t know what does!
If you get a call from any entity utilizing an automatic dialer, you should politely request that they remove your number. You should never contract with any company that cannot easily explain to you their services and their fees. You should never contract with any company that cannot maintain at least a “B rating” with the Better Business Bureau.
I was amazed at how difficult it was for the representatives to explain what it was that they actually did. The reason was that their script and/or sales presentation was specifically geared to falsely imply that they had been granted some other authorization from VISA, Mastercard and issuing banks to reduce interest. No entity other than government entities have that authorization.
A bit of healthy skepticism can keep you from being caught up in this type of scam. Of course, you should always research the organization to confirm their reputation. Lastly, if something smells fishy, throw it back!
Long is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Industrial Relations. He subsequently received his Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. His Certificate in Financial Planning was issued by Florida State University.
Long has achieved the Accredited Credit Counselor and Accredited Financial Counselor certifications through the Association for Financial Counseling, Planning and Education. Long originally achieved the Certified Credit Counselor designation through the National Institute for Financial Education.
In addition to years of nonprofit leadership, Long has been an innovator in the field of volunteer tax return preparation programs. He assists volunteer associations and nonprofit organizations who seek to integrate credit counseling and asset-building programs with free personal income tax preparation. His approach to using free credit reports as both an incentive and a screening tool for placement into asset-building programs has been shared with members of the National Community Tax Coalition, the EITC-Carolinas Initiative of MDC, Inc. and nonprofit groups across the Carolinas.
Long assists members of our armed forces in the Carolinas, Iowa, Rhode Island, Georgia and Germany with financial readiness. Please support our Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors!
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."