Don’t fall for a scam or swindle

It’s easy to fall into a financial trap when an interest-rate deal or credit offer sounds too good to be true, especially if you have little to no experience in identify what they look like. A lot of these offers sound like a genuine deal, even though they are usually not. Even if a deal is legitimate, it may not mean it is the best deal available for your particular financial situation.

Just what should you do when reviewing credit card and other credit offers? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you try to weed out the good from the bad.

Is a company legit?

Google them. It sounds basic, but it’ll pull up recent information on whether that company exists as well as its overall reputation. For instance, if you receive a phone call from a random number that you don’t recognize, Google the number. A potentially malicious or scam call will likely have negative reviews associated in the links that appear in the Google results. In addition, a company that sends you junk mail will likely have sketchy reviews online or warning comments from fellow consumers to stay away. Always check with the Better Business Bureau and Yelp to see their reviews on the company in question.

What’s the offer entail?

Think about the details to the offer. An example of a common mailed offer is a pitch to get rid of your student loan payments. Remember that the only entity that can truly offer student loan forgiveness is the U.S. government, and those requirements are stringent. Also, be mindful of credit offers with 0% interest rates. Some credit companies will charge you back interest if a certain part of the agreement isn’t covered.

Legit or not, read the fine print

As the saying goes, the “devil is in the details.” Generally, it is a good practice to read the fine print on all legal, financial and contractual documents to be sure you understand your obligation to it. If you make this a standard practice, over time you’ll be able to spot the bad offers from the ones that can truly help you.

Travis Credit Union members can receive free and anonymous financial counseling, including debt management, through our BALANCE Financial Fitness Program. Visit the BALANCE website for details.

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