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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2001

Residents warned of credit-card offer scam

By Jean Chow
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i consumers are being preyed on in a nationwide telephone credit-card scam, The Better Business Bureau said.

Callers who say they are calling on behalf of First Freedom Financial Bank of Chicago have been offering consumers around the country a credit card at a one-time fee of $199, the BBB said. The company asks for personal information such as a Social Security number, bank account number and bank routing number.

However, consumers who divulge the information find that the company withdraws money and doesn't deliver the promised credit card, the BBB warned.

"It's been happening all over the country, and (the company's) bad reputation precedes them," said Anne Deschene, president of the Hawai'i branch of the Better Business Bureau.

Deschene said more than 50 Hawai'i consumers have called the bureau in the past two weeks with concerns about this company. Only one consumer reported that money was withdrawn from his bank account; the rest called to ask about the company.

"Never give out personal information to anyone over the phone, unless you called them. Always ask for (terms and conditions) in writing and after you get that, check it with your BBB," Deschene said.