Don't Get Caught By Latest Credit Card Scam

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The credit card scammers targeting consumers seeking to rebuild their credit scores are at it again, operating through another phony bank.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency late Wednesday sent a warning about "unauthorized banking" to all U.S. bank regulators that it had been "informed that an entity entitled AmTrade International Bank is involved in a scheme that involves soliciting consumers for semi-secured credit cards through the U.S. mail."

There is no bank chartered in or authorized to operate in the United States named "AmTrade International Bank."

According to the OCC, "Potential victims receive solicitations and program agreements, which may mention that Credit One Bank, N.A., is connected with the card agreement. Credit One Bank, N.A., has no connection to this entity. The victim is requested to submit a check payment in an amount ranging from $500 to $900 as a deposit to obtain a semi-secured credit card, with the understanding that he or she is entering into a program to rebuild poor credit. The check is cashed, but the victim never receives the anticipated credit card."

The OCC provided a sample of the fake credit card offer documents being mailed to potential victims.

The fake "AmTrade international Bank" included an address in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in its direct mail solicitations. The OCC said that neither the phone number included in the fake credit card offer documents nor the website, AmTradeInternational.com, were working. The regulatory also requested that anyone with additional information contact the agency at occarlertresponses@occ,treas,gov.

Sounds familiar?

It should, because the OCC in August warned of a similar scam originating in Fort Lauderdale, with a phony bank named "Freedom 1st National Bank." The mail offers sent to victims in the previous scam also claimed an affiliation with Credit One Bank, N.A.

Credit One Bank, N.A. happens to be a legitimate institution headquartered in Las Vegas, that offers secured credit cards to consumers.

Secured credit cards can be an excellent tool for consumers looking to rebuild their credit scores. The customer makes a deposit with the bank, and in return is issued a credit card with a limit that matches the deposit amount. The deposit money is not used to fund credit card purchases, and payments made on credit balances are reported to the credit reporting agencies as real credit. After a time, assuming the customer makes their credit payments on time and their credit score goes up, the bank may return the deposit, changing the secured credit card into a regular credit card. Customers can also pay their credit card balances down to zero, if they want their deposit money back.

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