Chase’s dubious offer

We recently received a letter from our mortgage holder, Chase Bank, offering to reduce our mortgage interest rate by 1% with no fees. It even came in a next day envelope to help validate its importance.

Unfortunately, our previous dealings with Chase (they took our mortgage payment out twice last fall, leading to 4 months of ridiculous BS) made me suspicious immediately of their motives. Plus, I had heard the stories of fake mailings that purport to be from your mortgage company but in reality scam you out of you house. Two quick things that put me on guard.


The offer did a good job at answering many of my immediate questions, particularly in a (rare) helpful FAQ. they were offering to lower our rate by 1% because the Fed rate had lowered and they didn’t want to lose our loan. I have to figure they took a hit during the recent ‘fee fiasco’ when so many people jumped ship from major banks to credit unions. The glut of lower mortgage rates couldn’t have helped either.

But the bonus was a (supposed) abbreviated process, no new assessment and no fees. Supposedly because they already had the loan and the info they needed, they could do this for free. Too good to be true?

I thought so, so I began looking around to see if others had received thus offer and if it had been legitimate. Amusingly, as I typed “Chase Mortgage”, Google suggested “… Rate scam” – so enough other people are out there with the same apprehension I have. But while there were a number of conspiracy theorists out there, most people were saying it was valid.


Well, mostly none. After speaking with a rep, I found out that Chase is trying to not lose good accounts. So, in a proactive move, they are willing to take a 1% hit on the 2+% decrease in their interest savings to keep accounts. So this should be exceedingly simple – just lower our rate and have us sign the agreement, right?

Not quite. Unlike credit card interest rates, they cant simply just adjust the rate. There does have to be a new loan agreement drawn up and closed on. We did have some paperwork to do. We’ll end up eating some interest because new mortgages have a one-month payment grace period. But overall, it seems legit … until you start the process.


Once I started the process, I actually became more nervous this was a phishing scam. The too-good-to-be-true letter was on Chase stationary, came from their mortgage headquarters address (which I knew from the previous fiasco) and wasn’t full of spelling and grammatical errors.

But if you look at the list of others signs of a phishing scam, they nailed most of them.

1) information doesn’t match Chase info

The phone number didn’t come up as Chase when I did a reverse lookup, nor did the direct line number I was given by the rep I spoke with. They both came up as a marketing agency in Ohio. {flag #1} only after some thorough searching was I able to confirm this as a Chase call center.

2) Links in email that don’t match (spoofing)

I received 2 emails – one with a form I was supposed to fax back and one with my ‘login information’. The first contained a generic form with almost no referenced to Chase but DID ask me for my loan account number. {flag #2}

The second email was more troubling – it linked me to this URL:

To me, that looks like a spoof URL. In reality, I was able to find out¹ it belongs to a company specializing in secure document transfer. Sounds good but why not have it under the Chase domain? {flag #3}

Once you go to the site, it has some Chase-like branding but appears to be slapped onto the site {flag #4}. Luckily, they don’t ask for any personal information here or I may have bailed.

Then I received another email from someone stating try were working with Chase on this deal, and needed authorization to access our records. Their email was using a company domain ( but her signature panel stated she worked for Chase. {flag #5}

Only the fact that I had noticed that company name in the list of service providers Chase uses prevented me from canceling everything. I was still not sure why they needed access before I had signed and returned the documents to Chase, so I am waiting to respond to this.


From start to finish, this offer made me nervous – first wondering how Chase was profiting from this change, then in the way they went about this process.

If not for my doing my own research and contacting Chase through an established phone number to verify, I might not have gotten past the letter and definitely would have bailed later in the process.

Chase’s procedures in this run afoul of many of the best practices to help consumers recognize and avoid scams – in fact, they seem to run contrary to Chase’s own guidance for fraud protection.

I really appreciate this offer – at this point it seems to be just what the say it is – but wonder how many people who could use this relief will ignore it because of its questionable processes. Chase – a common victim of scams – should know better than this, and should do a better job than this.

¹He finds a lot of other holes in the process – some of which seem to have been fixed.


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