Overall, Americans today carry $2.6 trillion in all kinds of consumer debt, up 24% from just 2003, according to the Federal Reserve. (1)
The rate at which the finance industry continues to rape their credit card customers worsens as the days go by. Credit card companies are making one last greed-laden grab for the last dollar left in the wallet of the American consumer by the wholesale slashing of credit maximums. This will fling millions into overage charges, additional fees, and other charges, triggering often 35% or higher interest rates on the balance, plus accumulating fees, further triggering maximum rates on ALL cards held, even those held by other card issuing businesses through legal and illegal information sharing, much like health insurance industry controlled medical data banks are now doing with our health data. This is an undisguised attempt to wring the last available dollar out of customers trying to keep even one card alive before they go under. Of course the new bankruptcy law written by these companies makes it harder to discharge the debt once customers are forced into bankruptcy. Did either presidential candidate vote for that bill? This a far broader issue than even the subprime debacle, brought about by every card issuing business seeking to create a financial profit center “to the fullest extent of the law.” Even worse, the additional charges, fees, penalties, and accelerators are largely unregulated by laws, just as the creative instruments were that brought us our subprime and now liquidity crisis. It is time to fix this.
The financial industry has contributed its share to the mess we’re in. Now we the people can rise up and fix one aspect of this with clear legislation. If the government deals with the crisis in the financial industry with nationalizing the debt to rescue them, our elected representatives can do the same for the rest of us where the financial industry continues to pillage nearly everyone in readily identifiable, blatant ways. They’ll certainly scream for a bailout once again with these provisions. Fine. We’ve taken over Freddie and Fannie, let’s see who else we should own.
Here is a modest proposal:
1. Declare a “holiday” on all penalties beyond simple interest on card balances until a national consumer law is in place. The following starter provisions can be instituted as emergency measures until such a law is passed;
2. Immediately rollback all card-based consumer debt interest rates to a maximum of 12%;
3. Pay back customers the amounts already charged with these egregious gouging practices – with interest and penalties of course;
4. The “can’t figure it out” ploy doesn’t work. They’re very good at placing the charges. The crimes are exquisitely clear.