Credit card advertised on Spanish-language TV is a very bad deal

Consumer Action has received hundreds of complaints that this card is good for nothing except catalog purchases, and the company refuses to refund upfront fee

Contact: English-language media may contact Linda Sherry ([email protected]) about this story. Spanish-language media may contact Joseph Ridout ([email protected]).

Consumer Action has received hundreds of complaints about a company — Pro Line — that sells members of the Latino community on its high-cost nonrefundable credit card. Salespeople told the consumers that the card is a “Visa,” can be widely used for purchases and will help them to build credit. But when buyers receive the package, they find that the card is only good for buying items from one catalog.

According to the complaints received by Consumer Action, the company charges $299 for a $2,000 “line of credit” that is all but worthless. Consumers who ask the company for a refund after learning the real story are told that when they opened the package, they by default agreed to waive their right to a refund.

“The trouble is, the contract is inside the package!” said Joseph Ridout of Consumer Action. “This is a classic ruse to take advantage of people who do not have access to credit. In the complaints we received, it appears that Spanish-speaking salespeople misled potential customers about the merits of the Pro Line card.”

Protect yourself:

  • To build or repair your credit history, consider a secured credit card. To obtain a secured credit card, you deposit money in a savings account. (Minimum deposits range from $100 to $500.) The account is frozen while you have the card. If you fail to pay your credit card debts, the funds in the account may be used to cover your obligations. Go to www.bankrate.com to compare rates and deposit requirements for legitimate secured cards.
  • Before contacting the company, check its references with your local Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org).
  • Before signing any contract, read the fine print and make sure you understand all the terms. Never sign a document that you don’t fully understand. Once signed, a contract is a legally binding document.
  • If the transaction occurs over the phone, ask for the representative’s name and the customer service phone number.
  • Request information about the interest rate, annual fees, application fees, late and over-the-limit fees and grace periods.
  • Ask about the cancellation policies and reimbursements or not.
  • Never give out personal information such as your Social Security Number and bank account number unless you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with.

If you are a victim:

  • Write a complaint letter to the company and send it by certified mail.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) at 1-877-382-4357.
  • Report problems to your local consumer protection offices (www.consumeraction.gov), your District Attorney’s Office or your Attorney General’s Office.
  • The company is based in Florida, so also contact the Florida Office of the Attorney General: (850) 414-3300.
  • Contact Consumer Action at (415) 777-9635 or (213) 624-8327, or write to [email protected] (Spanish complaints are accepted).
  • Contact The Identity Theft Resource Center at (858) 693-7935.

SPECIAL NOTE: Many of the victims live in California's Los Angeles County. Residents of LA County may seek help from the LA County Department of Consumer Affairs. Consumers can download a PDF version of the department's online complaint form on the site.

Consumer Action is a non-profit organization founded in 1971 that provides free non-legal advice and referrals to consumers from all over the country and distributes free multilingual educational materials.

 
 

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