101 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

October 29, 2011

Why debit card fees are good for consumers

Bofaflag
Transparency in financial services, for the most part, is an oxymoron. The less consumers understand about money and how to manage it, the more banks profit.  So, there is a huge incentive for bankers, brokers, financial advisors and the like to be misleading or hide behind a shroud of complexity.  This is no secret.  

Given that total transparency in the financial services industry, as demanded by vulnerable consumers and a progressive government, is unrealistic, one would think that even a taste of it by its proponents would engender excitement.  Apparently, that is not the case.  Recently, when banks, led by Bank of America, revealed that they planned to charge customers a $5 monthly fee to use their debit cards, public outrage ensued.  So much for moving toward that utopian, consumer-friendly market in which banks actually reveal their fees and choose not to be so conniving!  

The fact that banks are now canceling their $5 charge policies seems like a great win for consumers, but in my opinion, it is not for two reasons.  First, banks will go back to being less transparent and finding more insidious ways to make their profits.  The public outcry over the charge has actually validated, in a way, their notorious, clandestine activities.  Second and most importantly, customers are now less likely to join a credit union, a financial institution that focuses on what is best for its members, not for Wall Street.  Banks realized, although quite late, that if they proceeded with the charge, they would lose a lot of their deposits and business to credit unions. 

In conclusion, when I heard that banks were planning to implement this debit card charge, I rejoiced saying, “What a great opportunity to move consumers from banks to credit unions!”  It seems like this will not happen as I had hoped.  I doubt another pain point so excruciating and publically detested will surface any time soon and therefore promote the credit union cause.  Unfortunately, consumers have once again tricked themselves into believing that the banks have capitulated under pressure and have done the “right thing”.  The truth is that the banks will find another clever way to get their money, and it is much easier to do that when you are still their customer. 

Read ABC News article

March 27, 2011

Consumers sacrifice privacy for better technology, despite risks

Iphone4z
Every now and then, the controversial topic of implanting microchips into human beings for various purposes comes up. I find the debate quite interesting.

Proponents argue that there are many benefits to the procedure. One proponent, PositiveID, a company based in Florida, specializes in implanting a small chip into a customer’s body that holds his or her health records. The benefit is not that obvious, but makes sense: If a customer is a victim of a serious car accident, for instance, and is unconscious or unable to provide critical information, paramedics have instant access to the victim’s important health records via the data chip. These records will facilitate urgent treatment.  Some say that such technology saves lives and should be, in some cases, mandatory. 

On the other hand, opponents argue that such an Orwellian procedure is the beginning of a slippery slope towards a society in which citizens are constantly monitored—and even manipulated by ill-intentioned forces. Many point to issues of security and privacy violation. Perhaps the most compelling objection to the idea, in my opinion, involves hypothetical scenarios in which health records are linked to credit scores. 

I think both arguments are rather silly, especially the former.  Why? Well, the great majority of us already have chips.  In other words, we may not have chips implanted in our arms or brains, but we certainly have chips in our pockets: they are called cell phones.  

Equally laughable is the alarm caused by a recent article published by The New York Times entitled “It’s Tracking Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know”.  The article, which has caused quite a stir, reveals just how cell phone companies store massive amounts of data about a customer’s location at any given time. While the average consumer can surmise that cell phone companies are able to store and use this data, no proof of these capabilities has been revealed in certain terms until now.  Still, it is not that shocking.  Perhaps the only shock is how much consumers depend on private companies to guard customer data and use it for “benign” purposes. 

Often, our faith in companies to do the right thing comes as a result of our dependency on their products.  I am sure that when cell phones, equipped with GPS features, were introduced to the market, consumers had major privacy and other legitimate concerns.  However, after billions of cell phones were sold and a few years passed, those concerns faded, weakened by what has become a necessary technology.  The same could happen with the nascent, implant debate mentioned earlier. 

In short, the amount of data stored by companies about customers goes way beyond location records obtained by cell phone usage or health records stored by chip implants.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, as it were.  And, most of us know it. The New York Times article focuses on Germany, not the United States where cell phone companies do not have to report what information they collect. Here in the United States, companies are probably more advanced. Regardless, consumers all over the world must understand that as technology advances, so too must the effort to protect individual privacy. It is the only solution in a highly technological world where “unplugging” is not an option. 

Read The New York Times article.

March 07, 2011

Georgia cities lead the nation in credit card debt

  Savannah4

The reason for the founding of Georgia, the United States’ thirteenth and final original colony, is unclear.  Some say that the state was founded for and settled by debtors. However, the truth is that Georgia’s founder, James Oglethorpe, only proposed this idea.  After a charter for the colony was approved by King George II in 1732, there were already enough people to settle the southern territory without debtors.

Fast forward about 279 years to today.  One would think that Georgia was indeed founded as a debtors colony and that the state's current denizens share their forefathers’ inclination to assume too much debt. 

According to new research released by Experian, one of the major U.S. credit bureaus, three Georgia cities are among the top 25 U.S. cities where consumers carried the most debt on their credit cards in December 2010.  They are Atlanta, Augusta, and Savannah, the very site where Oglethorpe chose to begin his settlement.  Despite a decrease from the previous year, debt amounts still remain relatively high.  Atlanta’s average bank credit card debt is $4,690; August is $4,575; and Savannah is $4,570.

James Oglethorpe, moved by witnessing first-hand the atrocities of debtors prison in London, dreamed of starting an American colony that gave debtors a chance to start anew. It did not happen quite as he planned.  Nevertheless, now that Georgia cities lead the nation in credit card debt, it seems as if Oglethorpe’s dream did come true, but with an ironic twist.

Read the list of the 25 top cities with the most credit card debt at CNNmoney.com.

February 04, 2011

The gamble of lending peer to peer

Ron Lieber, The New York Times writer who covered my story in 2009, explores peer-to-peer lending in an article posted online today. He examines two industry leaders, Prosper.com and LendingClub.com, which continue to thrive despite regulatory challenges and administrative setbacks. Mr. Lieber alludes to his family's desire to become a peer-to-peer lender, but he is hesitant to signup for fear of doing something "foolish".  The article is an adventurous read and allows you to vicariously experience Mr. Lieber’s internal debate on whether to proceed. He ultimately asks for your opinion: “Would you lend or borrow money at one of these sites?”

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

January 26, 2011

Why it’s hard to sue credit card companies

Arbitration

If you ask credit card holders what a mandatory arbitration clause is, chances are they have no clue. Yet, almost all of us have signed an agreement with such a self-defeating clause in it. 

A mandatory arbitration clause requires that any dispute raised by a customer go through arbitration before a civil lawsuit is filed.  In almost all cases, the arbitrators chosen to hear cases are not neutral; they are partial to the interests of the credit card companies.  Thus, many consumers unknowingly sign agreements that limit their constitutional right to the courts and forfeit any likelihood of a fair resolution. 

However, there are efforts to change the widespread use of such clauses in credit card agreements, employment agreements, franchise agreements, etc. For example, in 2007, the Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 1782, H.R. 3010) was introduced in Congress and called for several new measures, including a consumer’s ability to choose arbitration or the courts. Furthermore, a new movie entitled “Hot Coffee” is increasing the focus on America’s civil justice system. The documentary, which received rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, explores the tragic stories of people negatively affected by a civil justice system “under heavy attack”. 

In short, when it comes to signing any agreement, especially a credit card agreement, make sure you read the fine print, because that’s probably where you’ll find a mandatory arbitration clause.   As I like to say, the big print giveth and the fine print taketh away.   

Additional Resources:

January 20, 2011

Prepaid cards are the new axis of credit evil

  Twilight-MasterCard

A few weeks ago, I praised the launch of the Kardashian prepaid card.  Now, much to my chagrin, I am eating my words.  And the Kardashians are being sued for $75 million for withdrawing their endorsement of their “Kard”, which failed miserably and drew a wave of objections for its exorbitant fees. 

Despite the Kardashian debacle, prepaid cards are growing in popularity. According to the USA TODAY, “The total amount of branded prepaid cards is expected to exceed $440 billion by 2017, quadruple the estimated value in 2009, according to independent research commissioned by MasterCard.” Put another way, when the tween stars from the movie “Twilight” are used to sell financial services, something big is brewing.    

As if on cue, consumer activists and politicians have refocused their criticism from traditional credit cards to prepaid cards. Consequently, the relatively good image of prepaid cards is fading fast. No longer are they being touted as a safe or responsible alternative to unsecured credit cards, especially for consumers aiming to build credit. 

Opponents of prepaid cards highlight the excessive fees for features that are normally free with more mainstream products.  For example, there are fees to load the card, withdraw money, maintain an active account, and even cancel the card. Also, prepaid cards are not heavily regulated and do not fall under the Credit CARD Act. One of the most expensive cards (endorsed by popular radio host Tom Joyner) charges an $8.95 monthly fee to keep the account active.

On the other hand, proponents argue that having such cards are better and less expensive than using a check cashing business, a popular option for the unbanked.  Furthermore, they tout the flexibility of the cards to pay bills and make everyday transactions. 

In short, despite the recent spate of criticism and political cries for regulation, I still think the concept of a prepaid card is solid.  Moreover, there are good options on the market. In fact, Walmart offers a product with very low fees. As is the case with many credit products that thrive on misdirection and deceit, we must better educate all consumers, especially the most vulnerable ones, about the dangers of really bad products. Otherwise, the bloodsucking vampires will prevail.

Read more about this topic at USA TODAY.

January 19, 2011

Smartphones to replace credit cards in U.S. this year

  Mobilepayment1

Imagine a world without credit cards.  Instead of pulling out those pesty plastic cards, consumers make purchases simply by waving their smartphone near a receiver. 

For example, say you want a Coca-Cola from a high-tech vending machine.  You simply order what you want, take out your cell phone, and wave it to summon forth your refreshment. It’s almost as simple as waving a magic wand.

This is no futuristic scenario. In fact, it is reality in Japan and South Korea, two of the most technically advanced countries in the world.  The United States is behind, but not for long. 

This new technology called Near Field Communication (NFC) is coming this year.  It will make electronic payments effortless and those plastic cards relics of the past.  An expert familiar with NFC’s debut in the States says that smartphones that support NFC are just now hitting the market.  Likewise, thousands of merchants are installing receivers to accept this new payment form. 

So, what’s been the hold up?  In short, companies are working to establish a uniform platform and determine what merchant fees will be.  Despite these challenges, tremendous progress is being made. The tipping point is near. 

While there are certainly some advantages to NFC—efficiency seems to be the most touted—what do you think are the drawbacks? 

Read more at Inc. Technology.

January 18, 2011

Banks begin to extend consumer credit, target those with balances

  Loveletter1
Today all across the country thousands of consumers are receiving a flattering letter, a billet-doux of sorts, that makes them feel accepted and loved by their charming credit card company. The letter, which reeks of enthralling affectation characteristic of a no-good ex hoping to reconnect, informs them that their credit line has been increased, that because of their improved credit or on time payments they can now spend more money they don’t have. The exciting moment causes giddy consumers to forget how bad the relationship was just a few years ago. They begin to daydream about how they will spend this new money—perhaps a trip to Disney, a dinner for two, or simply bills. So begins the sad story of mass recidivism, the return to American overconsumption enabled by those god-awful credit cards.

My hunch just a few weeks ago served me right and was verified by The Wall Street Journal this week: For the first time since the Great Recession started in 2008, banks are beginning to make many more loans to consumers.  In general, this isn’t a bad thing, but the extension of credit to consumers who haven’t quite learned the lesson of good credit management will pick up old habits and overextend their obligations.  This is likely the case with those who carry balances.  These revolvers are the target of credit card companies looking to increase profits quickly. Thus, as revolvers spend more and creditors increase loans, we could see a return to the unhealthy credit card debt levels of early 2009.

Here are a few important statistics from The Wall Street Journal article:

- Bankcard loan originations increased 17% in the third quarter of 2010 as compared to the third quarter of 2009. 

- Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told analysts last month that industrywide, credit-card holders who carry balances "have actually started to borrow just a little bit more: not a lot, but 3% or 5%."

- At Discover, customers who revolve their credit-card balances increased their spending in September, October and November.

Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal

December 30, 2010

U.S. credit card agreements unreadable to 4 out of 5 adults

Confused
If you’ve ever thought that credit card agreements are difficult to read, then you’re not alone. 

A recent study conducted by Credit.com confirms what we’ve all suspected: Credit card agreements are not written in the simplest language. In fact, evidence from the study supports the idea that agreements may be written to utterly confuse us all.

Read the interesting details of Credit.com’s detailed study, which concludes that the average credit card agreement is written at a 12th grade reading level, “making them not understandable to four out of five adults.”

January 06, 2011

Frank statement on Congresswoman Bachmann’s effort to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act

Barneyfrank
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Barney Frank, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement in response to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s effort to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:

“Michele Bachmann, the Club for Growth, and others in the right-wing coalition have now made their agenda for the financial sector very clear:  they yearn to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear, so the loan arrangers can ride again – untrammeled by any rules restraining irresponsibility, excess, deception, and most of all, infinite leverage. 

“Their effort to repeal the new financial reform law reveals the hypocrisy of right-wing claims that they are concerned with ending uncertainty in the economy. Now that we have put in place a set of rules that allow financial markets to function but which also curb their excesses, Representative Bachmann and her allies want to reintroduce uncertainty by going back to exactly the situation that led to the financial crisis in the first place.

Continue reading "Frank statement on Congresswoman Bachmann’s effort to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act" »

December 23, 2010

Credit card companies loosen the reins, raise credit lines

Horse
They’re back.  It seems as if credit card companies, perhaps longing for the halcyon days of windfall profits, are beginning to loosen the reins on certain customers. 

During the past few weeks, my wife and I have received letters from different creditors, informing us that in light of improved economic conditions and our good stewardship, our credit limits have been raised.

Have any of you received similar letters?

December 17, 2010

Chase hit with SEC whistleblower complaint over credit card practices

Linda Almonte, a former employee of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) who is suing the bank for wrongful termination, has just upped the ante: She has now also filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The core allegations add context to her lawsuit, and they charge Chase with grotesque and illegal practices involving its credit card debt processes...

Read full article at DailyFinance.

December 16, 2010

Visa, MasterCard stocks plunge as Fed releases new rules to cut debit fees

Merchantfees
Visa and MasterCard stocks plunged today as the Federal Reserve Bank released proposed rules to reduce debit-card interchange fees by 90 percent. The Fed has until Jul. 21 to implement new rules as outlined in the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul. 

Analysts say that these new rules, if implemented, will pose a serious threat to the profit margins of Visa and MasterCard.  Currently, U.S. debit accounts for about 20 percent of Visa’s revenues. 

Retailers, however, welcome the new rules, which would allow them to maximize their profits and to reduce prices for customers.  Many hope that the reduced fees will be closer to those in Europe.  As reported by Bloomberg, “A 75 percent cut in the interchange rate would put the U.S. on par with the 27 nations of the European Union.”  

The rules are in a comment period after which the Fed will vote on them. 

Read more about this major story at Bloomberg

December 13, 2010

One good reason you should walk away from your mortgage

Keysinhand
One of the most common questions or requests for help that I receive goes something like this:  “Kevin, my home is severely underwater?  Should I walk away?  If so, how will a mortgage default affect my credit score?”

Many people who seek my advice on this matter aren’t in dire financial straits.  They neither have taken on too much debt nor have been reckless in their finances.  Contrarily, they have been reasonably good stewards, but worry that they are in a terrible deal, one that won’t get better anytime soon. 

I never answer this question directly, giving only information to help people make an informed decision.  Everyone’s situation and values are different.  However, new information published today strengthens the decision to walk away from a mortgage in cases where homes are underwater.

Almost two years ago, I wrote a prophetic article “Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) increasingly irrelevant” in which I posited that banks would rely less on credit scores and more on other subjective factors to assess creditworthiness.  It appears that this prediction is a reality, as consultants have created new categories to help banks focus on potential customers who, based on a credit score alone, would be too risky. 

As reported today in The New York Times, these new categories (in order of most to least creditworthy) are “strategic defaulters”, “first-time defaulters”, and “sloppy payers”.  They help creditors distinguish between consumers who have the same or similar FICO scores.  

What does this mean? It means that those who walk away from a mortgage a.k.a. “strategic defaulters” have newfound hope of ascending from the depths of credit purgatory sooner than seven years. According to The New York Times article, strategic defaulters are those “whose credit scores were damaged because they walked away from a home when its value dropped below what was owed on the mortgage. These borrowers made a bad bet on real estate but may otherwise be prudent risks because they make a good living.”

So, in short, this new information will help people solve their moral conundrum of whether or not to walk away from their mortgage.  But, as I often say, this game is always changing. What seems like hope today could be horror tomorrow. Make sure you consider all the possibilities and consequences of such a crucial financial decision.

December 11, 2010

Wikileaks founder costs Bank of America nearly $4 billion, suddenly lands in jail

Assange
Am I the only one that finds it peculiar that Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, landed in jail suddenly after issuing threats to at least two major U.S. banks?

In a recent interview with Forbes, Mr. Assange talked about the imminent release of bank documents, saying "It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume.” He later says that the disclosure “could take down a bank or two."

Whoah!  It doesn’t get any bolder than that. I can only imagine how my battle with American Express would have come out differently if I had said on CNN that what I plan to reveal could take down the bank. 

Anyway, the moment Mr. Assange threatened major banks, one of which is rumored to be Bank of America, he suddenly ended up in jail.  His indictment of Bank of America cost shareholders nearly $4 billion, as spooked investors jettisoned the stock.  The timing of Mr. Assange’s arrest is no coincidence.  I image elite bankers, the Illuminati, making personal calls to government officials and lawyers: “We’ve got to fix this—and fast!”

What do you think?

Read more about this at The Street.

December 10, 2010

How credit cards with no spending limits can hurt your credit score

A great article recently published by The New York Times investigates how credit cards with no limits can hurt your credit score.  I highly recommend that you read it.


Also, be sure to read this article: “There is no such thing as a credit card with no limit”. It will help you better understand how some of these cards actually work.

December 03, 2010

Think twice before you ‘Like’: Social media are credit card companies’ newest weapon

Socialmedia
Better risk management: That was the biggest and hardest lesson learned by credit card companies during the credit crunch, which started in fall of 2008.  Ever since that frightening period—some call it 'The Great Recession’—consumers and businesses alike have experienced tighter risk management through closed accounts, reduced credit lines, higher interest rates, and more stringent guidelines for credit applicants. 

In an unprecedented effort to minimize their risk, credit card companies and banks have sought every possible resource at their disposal to capture and to store more information about customers—and that includes using social media. While many consumers understand that companies have access to their transaction histories and credit reports, most overlook the tremendous metadata available via social media companies like Facebook.  With the help of such new media, credit card companies have almost a 360 degree look at their customers. 

Continue reading "Think twice before you ‘Like’: Social media are credit card companies’ newest weapon" »

December 01, 2010

Financial literacy foundation donates $1 million to EEI, Inc.

Newrosenfoundationlogo I am really proud to have helped make this happen. As Donald Trump would say, "This is huge!"  I have supported EEI for years with time and money, because the financial literacy and entrepreneurial education of young adults is so important in today's society.

The Jonathan D. Rosen Family Foundation (JDRFF), dedicated to improving financial literacy, today announced a contribution of $1 million to Economic Empowerment Initiative, Inc., a 501(c)(3) also known as EEI, Inc.

The commitment will enable EEI to pursue challenge grants with a value of up to an additional $2 million over the next four years as well as to support their existing financial literacy and entrepreneurship...

Read the entire press release at Atlanta Daybook.

November 30, 2010

Credit Card Max-and-Walk: Consumers Learn How to Game the Banks

Cccloseup
I am mentioned today in an article published by the Huffington Post.  Possibly, my campaign, NewCreditRules.com, has empowered not only honorable consumers, but also the less scrupulous ones.

Read the article at HuffingtonPost.com.

November 25, 2010

The shocking stats of credit card debt in America

Ccgraphic
Instead of reading the esoteric reports provided by the Federal Reserve or financial analysts, check out this user-friendly chart which is an excellent overview of credit card debt in America.  View the entire chart at CreditSesame.com.

 

November 21, 2010

Survey: Seniors too embarrassed to ask for help, a major cause of financial trouble

Seniors

One of the biggest obstacles to achieving good financial health is the lack of communication.  Put another way, a great majority of Americans does not like to talk about money.  Crippled by feelings of shame and misguided optimism, Americans with financial problems often do nothing to improve their lot, hoping for a miracle.

We all know that the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that there is a problem. As trite as the saying is, it is true, especially when it comes to extirpating bad financial habits.  Fewer and fewer adults are willing to take that difficult first step of acknowledgement.

As evinced in a recent survey, this is increasingly the case with retirees who find themselves in dire financial straits.  Members of the so-called Greatest Generation continue to increase their credit card debt with no intention of paying it off before they die.  They ignore the warning signs of financial disaster, blaming the faltering economy or simply giving up.

An insightful article released in USA Today provides fresh data about this trend and stresses the importance of communication when fixing problems of personal finance.

November 16, 2010

David Silberman to run credit card unit of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Elizabeth Warren, the special White House adviser assigned to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has selected David Silberman of the Kessler Group to run the unit that will research and write rules for credit cards, according to…

Read more about this major appointment as reported by Bloomberg.

November 10, 2010

Kim Kardashian offers prepaid card for kids

  Kkardnew
I’m going against the grain on this one, but I’m convinced that I’m right: MasterCard’s move to use Kim Kardashian, the ultimate shopaholic with recherché tastes, as a spokesperson for its new prepaid card product is brilliant—at least from a marketing standpoint. She has tremendous influence with her audience of teens.  With that said, however, I am more interested in how this partnership exposes the hypocrisy of some consumer advocates.

Continue reading "Kim Kardashian offers prepaid card for kids" »

November 03, 2010

Fitch: Credit card write-downs to continue falling

Tighter underwriting, better customer payment habits and "a substantial cleansing" of past-due accounts helped drive improvements in bank credit card portfolios during the third quarter, Fitch Ratings said Wednesday.

In a review of quarterly results for the major credit card issuers, the agency noted that four large banks have written off 14 percent or more...

Read more about this as reported by Bloomberg Businessweek.

October 26, 2010

Colleges should do more to protect students from credit card disaster

College_campus_1 

It’s like a trusted guardian selling off his teenager into slavery—financial slavery.  Universities and colleges have become salivating sellouts, taking millions of dollars from banks that wish to push credit cards on young and impressionable students.

Perhaps that was too harsh—I take it back—but there are similarities, if at best remote.  These lucrative deals are great for the colleges and banks, but put the financial future of students in peril, especially those who have no idea of how to manage their finances. 

Continue reading "Colleges should do more to protect students from credit card disaster" »

October 21, 2010

Obama says Republican Congress may repeal credit card protections

For the past few weeks, President Barack Obama has been stumping for Democratic congressional candidates all across the country. He has warned consumers the many reforms his party has passed in the last two years could be repealed if Republicans recapture Capitol Hill. President Barack Obama has focused his ...

Read more about this as reported by Creditnet.

October 05, 2010

Credit card delinquencies hit 9-year low

More Americans who’ve been behind on their bills are catching up, according to a quarterly report from D.C.-based American Bankers Association.

Read more about this as reported by The Washington Business Journal.

September 02, 2010

Doctors push medical credit cards, spark investigations

Doctorcontract

Imagine this unsettling scene.  You lie in the emergency room of a hospital.  After being hit by a drunk driver, you are critically injured. Barely conscious and in tremendous pain, you find out that your insurance company will cover only some of the costs of your vital surgery.  Realizing the gap of coverage and your inability to pay for it, your doctor pulls out a credit card application and says, “Don’t worry. We offer this great medical credit card that is interest free.  Just sign here on the dotted line, and we’ll get you put back together in no time.” As you sign the agreement, your doctor smiles, elated that he gets some payment upfront and that he gets a kickback from the creditor.  

This scenario dramatizes a growing problem: doctors pushing medical credit cards. In fact, the number of complaints about doctors promoting medical credit cards has risen in recent months.  Some of the complaints are so outrageous that they have sparked the ire of New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, who recently announced an investigation into the health-care lending industry. Other state attorneys are pursuing rogue doctors who take advantage of patients, many of which are not fully aware of the credit card terms.

Continue reading "Doctors push medical credit cards, spark investigations " »

August 23, 2010

Loopholes of the Credit CARD Act

ABC News takes a look at some of the loopholes of the Credit CARD Act. Read more details in the written article.

July 31, 2010

New tricks, same credit card companies

New tricks, same deck of cards

The Wall Street Journal, in an article published today entitled ”The New Credit-Card Tricks”,  confirms my 2009 premonition: If the Credit CARD Act is passed, credit card companies immediately will find ways to recoup their loses with new fees and tricks.

Read about some of these new fees and tricks that have consumers and advocates ruffled. 

July 25, 2010

Elizabeth Warren replies to my e-mail

Elizabeth Warren, consumer champion

I often hear people complain about the arrogance, self-importance, and off-putting nature of Harvard students, alumni, and professors.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth—well, at least my truth.  My experience has been the complete opposite of the nose-tilting stereotype. In fact, I have found these same people, especially professors, to be some of the most down-to-earth, engaging, and accessible people.

Continue reading "Elizabeth Warren replies to my e-mail" »

July 15, 2010

Who's right? The American Banker’s Association or The Standard & Poor’s/Experian Consumer Credit Default Index?

Who is right?

I am stumped.  Perhaps you can help me explain what seems like a contradiction. 

CNNMoney.com recently published the following headline: Credit card delinquencies fall to 8-year low.  This story is based on a report by the American Banker’s Association (ABA).  On the other hand, The New York Times published an article about how credit card default rates are still rising to record levels.  This story is based on a study completed by The Standard & Poor’s/Experian Consumer Credit Default Index. 

The ABA posits in the CNN article that “About 3.88% of bank credit card accounts were past due by 30 days or more in the first quarter of the year.”  However, The Standard & Poor’s/Experian Consumer Credit Default Index indicates, as reported by the New York Times that “In the three months through April the default rate on credit card loans had climbed to 9.14 percent, the highest since the index began to be calculated in 2004.” To be in default, an account must be at least six months behind, unless the lender has already written it off or the borrower has filed for bankruptcy.

Perhaps I am comparing apples to oranges. I can think of two reasons: 1) The ABA is looking at “bank credit card accounts”, perhaps a more restricted data set, and 2) the definitions of past due and in default differ.  But, do these reasons--and others unbeknown--adequately explain a difference of 5.26 percent?  Intuition tells me that the ABA number should be much higher, perhaps as much as double the 9.14 percentage.

I am sure that the key to resolving my confusion is a better understanding of each organization’s methodology in assessing the data.  However, the discrepancy just does not make much sense to me at all.  

What do you think?

July 12, 2010

I’m credit card debt free, finally

Financial Freedom

Crapulous. Yes. It’s a word, and it’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of our nation’s excessive, self-obliterating appetite for easy credit during these past few years. In many cases, we consumers are to blame for the economic implosion, not the big banks which cry in their defense “we simply supplied a demand.”

Before you accuse me of siding with the likes of Lloyd Blankfein or sounding self-righteous like President Jimmy Carter in his scathing “malaise” address to the nation on Jul. 15, 1979—about two months before I was born, by the way—hear me out. 

At some point, we consumers have to take matters into our own hands and become totally responsible for our financial welfare.  And I don’t mean that in a revolutionary, militia-like, or tea party way. It’s easier than that.  Simply put, we must rid ourselves of dependence on credit in all aspects of our lives. 

April 05, 2010

Garnishments on the rise as debtors struggle to pay debts

How to avoid garnishment

When in dire financial straits, the easiest thing to do is to disconnect the phone line, avoid opening the mail, or simply disappear altogether.  While it is the easiest thing to do, it is not the smartest thing to do, as more and more people are finding out the hard way. 

As reported recently by The New York Times, garnishments are on the rise.  Garnishment is a process by which creditors can secure a court order to seize part of the debtor’s paycheck or the funds in a bank account. The article states that, “… pay seizures are rising fast in some areas — up 121 percent in the Phoenix area since 2005, and 55 percent in the Atlanta area since 2004. In Cleveland, garnishments jumped 30 percent between 2008 and 2009 alone.”

One of the main reasons for the increase is debtors’ fear and unwillingness to communicate with their creditors, a tactic that will get a debtor on the fast track to garnishment. Avoiding creditors is the worst move you can make.

In short, if you are way behind on your bills or owe a major debt, be sure to make an attempt to resolve the issue quickly.  For example, when a friend of mine fell into financial hard times, he contacted his mortgage bank to request more favorable terms. As a result, his bank lowered his payment and forgave some of his loan.  Being proactive, you will come out better in the end, and you will have, at least, some peace of mind that a creditor is not waiting to raid your bank account.

 [ Read The New York Times article. ]

March 16, 2010

How I became a rock star for a day

Party like a rock star!

Last week, I was a rock star—and it felt great.  But I wasn’t on a big stage with a lead guitar, playing sick licks for a gigantic crowd.  No, not at all.  I simply asked a question that was on everyone’s mind at a recent conference.

During a packed, small business conference hosted by the mayor of Savannah, Georgia, I directed the following question to Terri Denison, District Director for the Georgia Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA):

“During last week’s hearing on small business lending hosted by the House Financial Services Committee in Washington, D.C., a small business owner testified that millions of small business owners are frustrated for two main reasons: 1) Banks, especially community banks, are not experienced enough to evaluate properly good business plans and ideas 2) Banks refuse to lend because regulators have implemented increasingly difficult standards such as higher capital reserves.  Why can’t the SBA lend directly to businesses to circumvent these obstacles?”

Ms. Denison, who is a good friend of mine, answered the question artfully, outlying several of the same points that appeared in an article published by The New York Times a few hours later. Her answer, which didn’t assuage business owners starved for capital, didn’t matter.  I was a rock star as soon as I finished my question. 

During the conference breaks, many small business owners thanked me for asking such a great question.  They also shared that they are doing everything possible to survive this economic maelstrom. The credit crush has only made things so much worse.  

So, in a nutshell, that’s how I became a rock star for a day, singing the blues of small business owners all across the country.

[ Read The New York Times article. ]

March 15, 2010

The U.S. is closer to losing its top credit rating

U.S. facing credit rating woes

Last year in April, I wrote an article poking fun at the irony of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s company, losing its high credit rating.  (“Warren Buffet’s credit rating reduced”).  Fast forward almost one year from that date, and here I am, writing about the real possibility that the United States of America, the country whose government-issued securities are as good as cold cash, is facing the same situation. 

In today’s The New York Times, Moody’s Investors Service, a popular credit rating agency, delivered the bad news.  Ironically, Moody’s is one of the widely used credit agencies still under fire for erroneously rating many of those toxic assets that wreaked so much havoc on global economies. 

Why is the country’s rating in jeopardy?  This looming demotion is no different than a credit downgrade for a consumer whose debt-to-income ratio has gone through the roof. (Of course if he still has a roof). According to The New York Times, the soaring amount of U.S. debt is staggering:

“The administration of President Barack Obama estimates that the U.S. deficit will rise to 10.6 percent of gross domestic product in the current fiscal year, the highest since 1946, and federal debt will reach 64 percent of G.D.P. Government expenditures are expected to rise to a postwar high of 25.4 percent of G.D.P.”

However, there is hope. Mr. Cailleteau, managing director of sovereign risk at Moody’s, says:

“For now, the U.S. debt remains affordable, Moody’s said, as the ratio of interest payments to revenue fell to 8.7 percent in the current year, after peaking at 10 percent two years ago. If that trend were to reverse, the Moody’s analysts said, “there would at some point be downward pressure on the Aaa rating of the federal government.”

If the credit rating of the U.S. were downgraded, the country’s default risk would increase.  In other words, that would mean higher interest rates that the government would have to pay to borrow. Who would be paying for that increased risk, at least in part? You and I.

In short, the downgrade is highly unlikely. Just because we are “substantially closer” does not mean we are close.  But, it is always nice to know that consumers are not the only ones suffering with credit problems.  That feeling of empathy would be short-lived, I suppose, because we as tax payers would get the short end of the stick.

[ Read The New York Times article. ]

March 03, 2010

Significant credit card changes proposed by the Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve Bank proposes more sweeping changes

Published courtesy of LowCards.com.


Today, the Federal Reserve proposed a rule amending Regulation Z (Truth in Lending) to protect credit card users from unreasonable late payment and other penalty fees, as well as requiring credit card issuers to reconsider increases in interest rates. This rule will go into effect on August 22, 2010.

"This proposal addresses two key costs of using a credit card--fees and interest rates," said Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth A. Duke. "The rule would prevent credit card issuers from charging large penalty fees for small missteps by consumers and would require issuers to reevaluate rate increases imposed since the beginning of last year."

The proposed rule would:

* Ban inactivity fees. Some issuers have recently instituted an inactivity fee if there are no transactions on your credit card for a certain period of time.

* Force issuers to evaluate rate increases. At least every six months, credit card issuers must reevaluate annual percentage rates increased on or after January 1, 2009. and, if appropriate based on their review, reduce the annual percentage rate applicable to the account. This includes changes in the consumer's creditworthiness, and to increases in the rate due to changes in market conditions or the issuer's cost of funds. However, the statute also expressly provides that no specific amount of reduction in the rate is required.

* Stop credit card issuers from charging penalty fees that exceed the dollar amount associated with the consumer's violation of the account terms. Card issuers would no longer be able to charge a $39 late fee for a $20 minimum payment. The fee could not exceed $20.

* Require credit card issuers to provide reasons for increases in rates.

* Prevent issuers from charging multiple penalty fees based on a single late payment or other violation of account terms.

Continue reading "Significant credit card changes proposed by the Federal Reserve" »

March 02, 2010

Banning credit checks on job applicants the right thing to do

You're great, but we have to check your credit first.

As more Americans suffer job losses and the inability to meet financial obligations, states are considering legislation that will prohibit employers from using credit checks to deny employment.  According to a recent report by the Associated Press, proponents of the idea argue that current restrictions make it increasingly difficult for qualified people to secure work. This year, 16 states from South Carolina to Oregon, have drafted legislation.

I support the move by many states to prohibit credit checks, especially during these difficult economic times.  With unemployment rates at record highs, the job market should be fair for everyone who is qualified to perform a job. And, it is no secret: Honest Americans find themselves in financial hardship not because of their own doing in many cases, but in part because of the credit card industry, which by lowering credit limits, has damaged millions of credit reports.  Denying people jobs because of poor credit is tantamount to kicking them while they are down.

Finally, the epidemic of bad credit is growing everyday as people make hard choices: Do I pay my credit card bills or feed my family? Do I restructure my mortgage and risk being denied the very job I need?  While the idea of what responsible means today has been redefined, the FICO score and credit rating standards have not.  (Read Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) increasingly irrelevant.) Legislation to prohibit credit checks for employment is not only the right thing to do, but also a necessary action to curb soaring unemployment.

What related stories do you have? Have you been denied a job after a credit check?

Continue reading "Banning credit checks on job applicants the right thing to do" »

February 24, 2010

Jon Stewart lampoons the Credit CARD Act

www.thedailyshow.com

Jon Stewart needs no introduction. Watch his hilarious parody of the new Credit CARD Act and Bank of America.

February 18, 2010

Citi adds $60 annual fee to more credit card accounts

Citi is the latest company to impose new fees
 
Published courtesy of LowCards.com.

One week before the CARD Act goes into effect, Citi has added an annual fee to more accounts on many of its popular credit cards.

Many Citi cardholders are receiving letters about a $60 annual fee that is being added to their account effective April 1, 2010. If consumers make $2,400 in purchases during the year, then the annual fee will be credited back to their account.

It appears that Citi's test of adding an annual fee to a small percentage of their customers in August of 2009 proved successful for the issuer. At that time, Citi began charging some cardholders an annual fee of $30 to $90 unless they spent at least $2,400 per year. Now a far greater number of customers are receiving this notice.

Continue reading "Citi adds $60 annual fee to more credit card accounts" »

February 17, 2010

Veteran bankers support strong regulation of banks, exhibit Frankenstein’s remorse

The monster lurks!

If you think the crusade for increased regulation of the financial industry is just populist fury—a battle between the haves and the have-nots—you are wrong. Contrarily, many of Wall Street’s veteran leaders are lobbying vociferously for more regulation of big banks, some of which they ran during their heyday. An article released today in The New York Times explores this irony.

Armed with what constitutes a compelling squadron of financial gurus, Paul A. Volcker, chairman of the Federal Reserve during the 80s, calls for very strong regulation.  Mr. Volcker believes that restricting proprietary trading of banks is the silver bullet.  In fact, some of Mr. Volcker‘s cohorts believe that this proposed solution to the financial crisis is shortsighted and that Congress should go as far as to reenact the Glass-Steagall Act.

Am I the only one that finds this odd?  What is the old guard’s motivation for supporting more regulation of an industry that in many ways, it helped to create?  Did it lose millions of dollars and therefore has become sour? I have no clear answer. 

But, I am reminded of Marry Shelly’s "Frankenstein".  Perhaps the old bankers feel responsible, at least in part, for helping to create a family of financial monsters, ugly giants composed of blended parts taken from different financial intermediaries—an investment bank here attached to a commercial bank there. In their quest to create the perfect, most profitable financial service corporation, everyone has suffered.  Like Frankenstein, they, too, have learned the price of pursing glory at all costs.

Continue reading "Veteran bankers support strong regulation of banks, exhibit Frankenstein’s remorse" »

February 11, 2010

Banks get another reason to stop lending

It's great to be a banker!

Banks now have another reason to stop lending: The Federal Reserve will pay banks a higher interest rate on their “excess reserves” or any money over their required minimum savings.    

The Fed enforces capital reserve requirements for its member banks and depository institutions to ensure that they can absorb a reasonable amount of loss. In other words, the Fed holds money for its members and pays interest on the amount that exceeds the minimum requirement.  After all, it is called the Federal Reserve Bank.  Currently, that interest rate is 0.25%.  The minimum amount of money required is determined by the capital ratio, a percentage of a bank's capital to its risk-weighted assets.

The calculation of this capital ratio has been a hot issue lately.  Many of the large banks that failed were tremendously overleveraged; put another way, they borrowed way too much money.  Based on testimony by an analyst at a recent FCIC (Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission) hearing, some banks were leveraged as high as 95 times.  A normal ratio is closer to 10 times and is much less risky.  Some congressional leaders and bankers believe that part of the solution to preventing another financial crisis is requiring that banks have higher reserve requirements. 

Continue reading "Banks get another reason to stop lending" »

February 05, 2010

Small business ideas for financing during a credit crunch

Small businesses look for alternative funding
 

As a small business owner, I feel the pain of the credit crunch caused by the recession. Despite great credit, my company has lost financing options; they have either dried up or become much more expensive.  First, American Express decommissioned my company’s business line.  Second, Capitol One increased my company’s credit card interest rate by seven points. Third, Chase recently sent a letter notifying me that it, too, may decommission my company’s business line and raise minimum payments.  Considering these circumstances, it is increasingly challenging to operate a business, let alone grow. 

As a result of traditional banks refusing to lend, more small businesses are seeking alternative sources of funding.  Two reasonable options are accounts receivable financing and purchase-order financing. 

Continue reading "Small business ideas for financing during a credit crunch" »

February 01, 2010

Dubious subprime credit company, CompuCredit, in financial trouble

CompuCredit in financial trouble

The bad news for its employees came on Jan. 28: CompuCredit announced that it was closing several call and collection centers around the country in order to cut costs.  Due to the recession, Atlanta-based CompuCredit, which specializes in credit card and car loans for consumers with bad credit, decided to layoff about 740 employees.  However, it will continue to operate centers in Nevada, Florida, and Minnesota. 

In addition to laying off several employees, CompuCredit released on the same day a press release announcing the following: “CompuCredit Holdings Corporation Announces ‘Modified Dutch Auction’ Tender Offer to Purchase up to $160,000,000 Aggregate Principal Amount of Its Outstanding 3.625% Convertible Senior Notes Due 2025 and 5.875% Convertible Senior Notes Due 2035”.  That has to be the most convoluted title that I have ever read in my life.  You have to have a finance degree to even get an idea of what it means. In a nutshell and explained at the most rudimentary level, CompuCredit is buying back some of its long-term debt at a discounted, auctioned off rate from its debt holders because its financial welfare and future are shaky at best. In short, CompuCredit, like some of its subprime customers, is experiencing financial straits.

Normally, this news would not be material for this blog.  (I would much rather write about the total demise of the company.)  But CompuCredit is of special importance because it was investigated and censured by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in part for reducing customers’ credit limits based on where they shop.  As a result, CompuCredit settled for $116 million and agreed to pay a $2.4 million penalty to the U.S. treasury in December 2008.  Similarly, in January 2009, American Express engaged in and admitted to the same insidious practices in 2009. However, it has not had to face any penalties.  In fact, American Express’ actions are what prompted the creation of this blog.  Even with the tremendous media attention given to American Express’ obvious abuses, the company has managed to escape public and political outrage relatively unscathed. 

Continue reading "Dubious subprime credit company, CompuCredit, in financial trouble" »

January 22, 2010

Great Scott! Massachusetts Senate upset could kill financial reform

Scott Brown loves the free market

Scott Brown’s astonishing upset in the Massachusetts Senate race has Democrats aghast, wondering how in the world did a Democratic bastion fall into the hands of the Republican Party. Now that the Democrats have lost their super majority in the Senate, several crucial bills are at stake.

As a result of the Democratic debacle, political pundits have focused on the likely and immediate demise of health care legislation, the controversial bill that pushed Brown to victory.  However, few pundits are discussing the possibility that financial reform could face a similar fate.  

Continue reading "Great Scott! Massachusetts Senate upset could kill financial reform" »

January 21, 2010

AmEx debuts new feature: Use reward points to pay taxes

American Express debuts new feature For those who remember the $3.39 billion of TARP money that American Express desperately requested and received about a year ago, the irony of this headline is  unbearable.  I am reminded of the popular saying: He could sell ice to an Eskimo! Only in this case, He is American Express; the ice is our tax dollars; and we are the Eskimo.

I can imagine American Express executives in the board room back in January 2009.

“This new reward feature that allows Cardmembers to use reward points to pay taxes is going to have to wait.  Populist uproar against Wall Street banks is still prevalent.  More importantly, we still owe the government $3.39 billion for the TARP program.  Let’s wait until we pay back the money and give it some time. Ideally, we release the new feature right when customers can appreciate it the most: next tax season. Then, the urgent need will somewhat placate their anger.”

Here is an excerpt from American Express’ Jan. 11 press release announcing the feature:

Continue reading "AmEx debuts new feature: Use reward points to pay taxes" »

Barney Frank releases memo to dispel inaccuracies about CFPA exemptions

Barney Frank Washington, DC – Today, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) released the following memo to members of the House Financial Services Committee: 

January 21, 2010

MEMORANDUM

TO: Members, Committee on Financial Services

FROM: Chairman Barney Frank

RE: Inaccuracies about CFPA Exemptions

Some inaccuracies have appeared in the press about institutions exempted from the reach of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency in the House-passed financial reform bill.  For instance, yesterday’s New York Times reported that it “exempted smaller community banks, credit unions, retail merchants …”.  Not true.  All of those institutions will be subject to all rules issued by the agency with respect to the extension of credit.  They also will be subject to agency enforcement.  The exemption for smaller financial institutions is only with respect to examination which will continue to be the responsibility of the institutions’ prudential regulators.  However, the CFPA will have back-up inspection authority and may independently take enforcement action.  And even this exemption is limited to institutions with less than 2% of bank assets.

Importantly, the new agency will also have authority with respect to the now lightly or unregulated institutions such as pay day lenders and check cashers firms which are especially important to lower income families.  It also will have authority over independent mortgage brokers and lenders that led the industry in issuing subprime and abusive option ARM mortgages.

Continue reading "Barney Frank releases memo to dispel inaccuracies about CFPA exemptions" »

January 14, 2010

Maximize relief dollars, remove transaction fees

Every penny is needed for relief in Haiti

It has been done before: credit card companies temporarily suspending transaction fees to maximize the dollar amount of donations going to help disaster relief and recovery efforts.  Given the catastrophic proportion and immediacy of Haiti’s need, it should be done now.

When disaster occurs and private donations abound, credit card companies reign in a considerable amount of money through transaction fees.  Companies such as Visa, which has come under fire for its high transaction fees, make about three cents of every dollar donated.  Visa and other companies will likely rake in millions of dollars of profit as a result of the donations made via credit card for the Haitian relief efforts.  

Instead of eagerly watching their bottom lines swell, credit card companies should cease this opportunity for humble leadership and partial redemption.  While the existence and convenience of their processing infrastructure is certainly valuable and has an associated nominal cost, the need for every penny of relief is most important.

Join me in demanding that credit card companies suspend their transaction fees to maximize relief efforts in Haiti. 

For more information about how much credit card companies will profit, read an article released today in the Huffington Post.

January 12, 2010

Credit unions no longer a safe haven?

Are credit unions still safe? In this ever-changing and tumultuous world of consumer credit, no borrowers are completely safe from the whims of frantic lenders--even the so-called safe ones. Often considered the best option for consumer loans, credit unions are becoming more like their rogue cousins: commercial banks. 

Based on recent e-mails and comments sent to me from frustrated consumers, credit unions are beginning to adopt and to implement changes to their credit card accounts, including increased interest rates and stricter terms.  This comes as a surprise given that amid the widespread outrage against commercial banks, credit unions have been touted as the safe alternative.   

One such customer wrote me:

Continue reading "Credit unions no longer a safe haven?" »

January 07, 2010

Senator Dodd’s legacy, a fighter for financial reform

Sen. Chris Dodd will be missed

I am almost embarrassed to admit it: The first time I heard of Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), I was watching “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” a few years ago.  In one of his reoccurring, comedic interludes, O’Brien compared Mr. Dodd’s headshot with that of an animated Simpsons character, I believe, saying that they looked just alike. Since then, I have forgotten who the “twin”, animated character was and learned much about Mr. Dodd.  (I will exchange my chagrin with pride now, realizing that my political IQ has increased tremendously at the expense of my knowledge of pop culture.)

Earlier this week, Mr. Dodd announced his plans to retire from the United States Senate where he has served for almost 28 consecutive years.  While his announcement (made amid a flurry of controversy regarding his diminishing popularity and ability to maintain his seat) was not shocking, it certainly was disappointing to learn that one of the most powerful fighters for consumer rights is leaving.  As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Mr. Dodd was especially vociferous about the need for change to the credit card industry. 

Mr. Dodd’s political legacy will be, in general, his passionate advocacy for financial regulation and, in particular, the passage of his Credit CARD Act of 2009. Furthermore, he will be remembered for standing up for and sticking with unpopular ideas like credit card reform decades before any significant legislative reform was enacted.  While the verdict is still out on the Credit CARD Act and considering that many believe the timidity of some of Mr. Dodd’s regulatory policies are self-defeating, this much is clear: Consumer advocates and financial reformists alike have lost significant ground in the fight to ensure equity in our financial system.  I doff my hat to Mr. Dodd.

In a statement distributed on Jan. 6 by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), Mr. Dodd is lauded:

Continue reading "Senator Dodd’s legacy, a fighter for financial reform " »

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About Me

Greetings! I’m Kevin D. Johnson, a business owner who has recently assumed the role of consumer advocate and internet activist. Atlanta, Georgia is my home.

My Story

Upon returning from my wonderful honeymoon in Jamaica in October 2008, I received what I thought was an ordinary American Express bill, but to my surprise it was a disappointing letter informing me that my credit line was reduced by about 65% for a highly suspicious and discriminatory reason. Considering my excellent credit score and pristine payment history, it just didn’t make sense. However, what does make sense are the unfair and insidious policies that I have uncovered when asking why. It is time to change them.

Good Morning America tells my story.

The Goal

I created this web site to document and share my challenging journey to change what is wrong, unfair, and unjust in the credit card industry. The ultimate goal of this web site is to inform consumers of ways to stand up for themselves against treacherous business practices and to educate consumers about how to improve their credit. Finally, I hope to encourage a more open dialogue with credit card companies about their policies–good and bad.

Success

I am proud to say that this blog's unyielding demand for change led to an important amendment in the final Credit CARD Act signed by President Obama on May 22, 2009. Despite this major accomplishment, there is still more work to be done.

View video of bill hearing in Maryland

Testifying at a bill hearing in Annapolis, Maryland

Speaking Engagements

In an effort to educate as many people as possible about financial management, especially about how to manage the current credit crisis, I have begun to speak around the country at colleges, universities, corporations, chamber of commerce meetings, congressional hearings, trade organization meetings, etc. Having acquired a wealth of information that will help to empower people and to improve their financial future, I feel that sharing this information is the least I can do to make a positive impact. For information on my availability for speaking opportunities, please send an e-mail to Jennifer Silverman at [email protected].


Speaking at a university

Disclaimer

All information provided on NewCreditRules.com is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for professional financial advice. Information on NewCreditRules.com is subject to change without prior notice. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, NewCreditRules.com makes no guarantees of any kind. This web site may contain information that is created and maintained by a variety of sources both internal and external. These sites are unmoderated forums containing the personal opinions and other expressions of the persons who post the entries. NewCreditRules.com does not control, monitor or guarantee the information contained in these sites or information contained in links to other external web sites, and does not endorse any views expressed or products or services offered therein. In no event shall NewCreditRules.com be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any such content, goods, or services available on or through any such site or resource.

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  28. Beware: These stores could harm your credit! (Part I)

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Great Resources

  1. ChangeInTerms.com

  2. Complaints.com

  3. ConsumerAffairs.com

  4. Consumerist.com

  5. CreditMattersBlog.com

  6. CreditSlips.org

  7. DefendYourDollars.org

  8. Epinions.com

  9. GotaClassAction.com

  10. My3Cents.com

  11. PlanetFeedback.com

  12. RipoffReport.com
* List provided by ChangeInTerms.com.


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