Credit card calls concern students

By Sara Adams

Phone solicitors welcomed NIU students back from the break by asking them to sign up for a Visa credit card geared for college students.

Students filed formal complaints about the calls in the beginning of the week and University Police investigated the company’s legitimacy.

Students were concerned because phone solicitors asked for their social security numbers, UP Lt. Matthew Kiederlen said.

“Until we knew they were legitimate, we recommended students to not give out the information,” Kiederlen said. “What we found was it is actually a legitimate credit card company with a card focused on college students.”

Anyone who gave out personal information need not be concerned, he said.

UP thought the calls were fraudulent because the calls were placed after the standard cut-off time for solicitation, Kiederlen said.

“Certain area codes are supposed to be locked out after 9 p.m.,” Kiederlen said.

The company experienced a good-faith mistake, he said. A UP investigation revealed the phone calls were legitimate. The company, TeleServices Direct, was given one student’s name and phone number to conduct a test. A system analysis confirmed the call was placed before 9 p.m.

Melissa Boehm, a freshman journalism major and Douglas Hall resident, said she has received about five calls since she returned from Winter Break.

“They called and said they were from some credit card company and they knew what school I went to,” Boehm said. “I kept saying I wasn’t interested, but they kept calling.”

Boehm, however, was not concerned about the company’s legitimacy.

“I didn’t really think they were fraudulent,” she said. “I just thought it was some credit card company that was really relentless.”

Stan Sendra, a sophomore geography major, said he thought the call seemed like a typical credit card solicitation.

“They kind of pressured me o n wanting me to sign up,” Sendra said. “I told them I didn’t want it, but they had an answer for every excuse I had.”

Stephen Flechsig, TeleServices’ vice president of client services, said the company is a legitimate credit card business without logged complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

He said TeleServices Direct takes all complaints seriously and would not intentionally do wrong.

When applying for a credit card, information such as an applicant’s name, address, date of birth and social security number are standard requirements, Flechsig said.

The information allows the company to “make sure we are talking to the right person without fraudulent accounts being opened,” he said.

Kiederlen said students need to be cautious.

“There are certain incidences where if you are doing a credit application over the phone, I think they often require social security numbers,” Kiederlen said. “Make sure you are talking with a legitimate company and you know who you are talking to.”

If a student is uncomfortable giving information over the phone, Kiederlen said he suggests asking the solicitor to send an application by mail, visit a Web site or ask for an 800 number.

Kiederlen also recommends students have documentation of a paper trail to the company if credit card fraud does occur.

To avoid getting phone calls from solicitors, visit and enter your phone number in the registry.