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If you’re in a small business, you probably need a way for people to pay you and ways to lower your costs. Scammers have been working both of those angles, promising businesses that they can save on leases of credit card processing equipment. They’ve also been promising that businesses can cancel any time. But is that what happens?

In a word, no. Businesses can end up paying thousands to lease equipment that would have cost only a few hundred dollars to buy. When the business can’t cancel the lease (despite the promises), it can have trouble if it stops paying. Those lease agreements can hold the business owner (or the person who signed the lease) responsible for the debts. And the agreements can require that legal disputes are heard in another state. Some scammers have even pretended to be the business’s current card processor – people have been tricked into signing new contracts when they thought they were just updating paperwork.

To avoid this and other scams against small businesses:

  • Don’t be rushed. Scammers want a quick decision. But you need to read the contract and check out the company.
  • Do your research. Search the company’s name online with words like “scam” or “complaint.”
  • Get it in writing. You’ll want to see all the terms in writing before you sign. If you don’t get them, walk away. If you do sign, be sure to get a copy of the entire document, especially if you sign electronically.

The FTC and several state attorneys general recently announced a law enforcement sweep cracking down on scammers that targeted small businesses. Check out our new Scams and Your Small Business brochure to learn more about what to watch out for, and share the information with your team.


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

June 21, 2018
Thank you
June 21, 2018
I was a small restaurant owner, signed up to receive credit card for business, once I have found out the service charge was up to almost 5% of each check, I tried to stop the contract, they sued me and ruined my credit; I thought it was my fault. it was a nightmare for years; since then, I never use credit card anymore! I have learn this in 80’s, unfortunately these companies still scamming our consumers in our society. Hopefully FTC can do something to stop them, I believed they have use “credit scam” to profit themselves and “cheat “ people to borrow money from credit card then overuse their credit, if they charge more than 20% of interest rate, do you think it’s reasonable?
June 21, 2018
Hello. Is it possible to write to your office? I understand this is for email but this is difficult without a computer. I use my cell phone. I've been through just about every attempted scam your office can fathom over many years. I've run the gammet! Unrelenting telephone calls prior to these Neanderthals flying around cyberspace and naturally the good ole "junk mail" kind. Basically annoying, but harmless in comparison. I wish I was younger and could work for your organization. I believe in you but by the same token unless you've been in the soup pot it's hard to know the heat. A great example is this. To date and over as many years I have possible been the attempted Scamee tnvolving the name of a well known bank in the United States, not to say AT ALL that the bank is involved . Instead just like Western Union Moneygram, their name etc is used. How would you feel if you received ( via your email) an important Security Notice that your account has been frozen due to numerous incorrect password entries AND YOU HAVE NO BANK ACCOUNT WITH THAT WELL KNOWN FINANCIAL INSTITUTION? Not once or twice but a few different times throughout the years? I can tell you that the bank has no great concern and I would never have bothered with them again until ( last week ). Again. I remember calling moneygram a couple years ago and getting nowhere. I have no intention of spinning my wheels again with this large bank ( again). I've learned if they don't show concern initially except to warn you about scams and what to look out for yada yada and you get information on other avenues to take also, your starting a marathon runaround. Anyway, too long of what reads as a saga. I'd be more than happy to send you a lot of different information if your office could use. I would feel like I maybe helping in some way. Maybe my information won't help but I'm willing to spend some time to try. Without going blind here on my cell. Lol If I do not hear back it's ok as I'm sure you get a lot of other letters. t least I hope so. It would mean other people are trying to help too. But either way, don't stop doing what you do because it can only help! Regards
FTC Staff
June 21, 2018

In reply to by PennyLane

Thank you for your message. If you spot other scams, you can report them to the FTC's consumer response center at 1-877-382-4357.

June 21, 2018
Thank you for this! If only I had known before hand! I was a victim of this. Although I don't like to use the word "scammer" I fell for the bad deal. One of the other things they did was put two leases in front of me for the same equipment, but from different vendors. The cost of the lease was the same, but the terms were very different between the two leasers. They had me execute both because they weren't sure which one would qualify me for the equipment. Of course, I got locked into the "non-cancellable" policy and will be paying over 5 times the value of the equipment if I were to buy it new!
June 21, 2018
What is wrong with these people & their employees. Don't they realize they are stealing or committing crimes? Why isn't more being done to stop them?
Small Business owner
June 21, 2018
I had a lease with a company called "" which I could not cancel, or find online for credit card processing. They charged money without the use of their credit card processing. This was reported to credit bureaus.
June 21, 2018
If it's a scammer and not a legitimate company, how can they get you in legal trouble for not paying them? The "contract" that you sign can't really be a contract. If you can owe money to a scammer, something is wrong.
June 22, 2018

In reply to by P.J.

Real companies can and do have abusive and even flat out crooked practices. Just look at continuity merchants (businesses that use a free trial to lure you in without realizing that you just signed up for a subscription to their product and will be automatically charged). They are real businesses with real products, and yet one could easily argue their method of selling is underhanded and leaves many customers feeling robbed
December 10, 2018

In reply to by P.J.

Hey Pj, I thought the exact same thing! My cousin currently went through a credit card scam too and he didn't return the money after they deposited in his account. Do you think he might get in trouble for anything? Just interested in what you might thought. Thanks
Johnny Ray
June 21, 2018
This is scary because it uses the legal system to maintain the scam. I imagine it's hard enough to sustain & grow a small business w/o having to contend with immoral vultures like this. Good to read that law enforcement is zeroing in.
June 22, 2018
This has been going on for quite sometime and the FTC has been dragging their enforcement of this credit card machine scams. The Attorney General' Office should be involved with this as well.
June 22, 2018
Thank you for continuing to alert us to these scammers.
June 29, 2018
I received a phone call "FROM MY SON WHO SAID HE WAS ARRESTED BY THE POLICE IN FLORIDA, WHILE RIDING IN A UBER CAR AND POLICE FOUND DRUGS IN THE CAR." The driver said that the drugs belonged to my son and his friend. The young man did sound like my son. I was given the name and telephone number of a LAWYER STEIN - 1-647 - 285- 5045. He WANTED $4,000.00 for bail money for my son. I was told to go to Walmart and get Gift card and then notify Mr. Stein. When I tried to call Mr. Stein back from my Cell Phone, the call would not go thru. I went home and called Mr. Stein from home and was told that if I did not send the Gift Card that my son would be staying in jail. I DID NOT SEND ANY MONEY/GIFT CARDS TO MR .STEIN.
August 17, 2018
I have gotten calls from various phone numbers....example of what came today. V81711495200079 (phone number 203-942-7291), V816185115700027 (phone #203-875-5219) and V81610025000047 (phone #901-466-4359) The first number listed was my most recent. I called the number back to ask them to stop calling and the guy said "Do you speak spanish?" How can I stop this when there are so many numbers involved and has anyone experienced this. This has been going on for years!!! It is at least several times a week and sometimes several times a day. I need help!!! When I answered the phone today it was automated about lowering my Visa interest rate. I just received another call while typing this and the phone # is 203-942-7330
September 28, 2018
Last night a received call from #702-446-0225, once it confirmed my name, it went on to use abusive racial language hung up, tried to return the call, number rings without response. Checked the number online and noticed this number has been reported multiple times for phone scams. Additionally, this morning received a call from the "famous" reduce your Credit Card Interest rate scam, the caller became confrontational upon my response to his faulty scam. Contacted the FCC reported both calls and obtained a reference #. Registered my # in the national no-call list (though I had done it in the past) waiting 31 days. Report it, don't let yourself be a victim.
October 24, 2018
Scam with Publisher Clearing House and PNC credit cards
FTC Staff
October 24, 2018

In reply to by Donna

You can report a scam to the FTC at The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. Thank you.

October 24, 2018
Tristar consumer Law company has a Big Scam and obtained 6,000.00 dollars from me by making arrangements to get my credit card debt resolved without any payments of funds owed. They stated that the credit card companies had trouble proving that the account was even mine because when they went paperless, a lot of important data could not be saved, (or something like that) They transfer me to multiple department's during the phone call and even successfully got me a new credit cards to use during the dispute process because my accounts would be closed. The catch is that they have you sign that you understand that if you fail to respond to letters, or fail to send info. requested etc it is considered a breach of contract and they drop your case. My breach letter had no signature or return address. they cannot prove that I breached the contract, I have copy's of all of the correspondence. I was diligent with immediate follow up to prevent any type of Breach of contract. And the list of possible ways that I may have possibly Breached the contract in the letter, did not apply to me, I kept up with all of the requirements. Now I owe 3 credit cards amounting in aprox $ 22,000.00 and I don't know if anyone can help me. The credit card companies informed me that they have recently been getting a lot of these cases. I paid off 2 cards in full immediately and will pay off the 3rd card with payment a plan. I almost fainted when I realized what happened to me. I had even previously looked up this company on line and they appear to be legitimate. They had me sign up with Privacy Guard to monitor my credit reports which was great, However It was giving me false information as I am finding out now on my recently obtained credit report. My ability to sign in to Privacy Guard was also denied, so even that was a part of the Scam. It is deplorable that a company like TRISTAR Consumer Law is mainly out there to financially victimize trusting consumers. I even had contact people, who cannot be contacted anymore. This situation is unbelievable. If I can use this statement to report these companies, than I definitely would like to do that. A lot of people are suffering now financially because of these particular companies and others like it.
FTC Staff
October 24, 2018

In reply to by RonJon77

These details are important to share with the FTC. Please go to and report this. The information will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies across the country use for investigations.

The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.