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August 17, 2009

American Consumers Charged the Credit Card Debt

Author: admin - Categories: Book Reviews, Consumer Debt News, Credit Card Debt Articles, Credit Market Updates, Featured Editorial, Published Debt Relief Articles, credit counseling - Tags: , , , , , , ,

Richard Geisst, a Manhattan College finance professor and former investment banker published a new book, “Collateral Damaged: The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America.” In the book, Geisst traces America’s credit history and finds it riddled with sleepy regulators, congressional nit-wits and sinister financial firms making euphemistic lures to consumers. “A credit card offers $10,000 of credit, not debt. It has a friendlier ring,” he writes.

Consumer debt is at an all-time high, exceeding $2.5 trillion, or $8,000 per person, making it as American as apple pie and apparently equally tasty. But The Great American Debt Machine, as Geisst calls it, is hardly new. Sears established its consumer credit operation nearly 100 years ago, and automobiles have been sold “on time” since 1916. The American debt machine really began roaring in the ’20s, when consumer debt doubled. But fewer than 20% of the population bought anything on credit then.

Credit cards hit the scene with Charg-It after World War II, followed by Diners Club and American Express. Diners Club and American Express required payment in full, however, so their credit card holders couldn’t get in over their heads. Plastic as we know it began about 50 years ago, with Bank of America’s BankAmericard (now Visa) letting card holders finance purchases over time, paying interest on unpaid balances.

Geisst says there are several significant factors beginning in the 1980s played a major role creating the current financial chaos:

o •Variable-rate credit cards and adjustable-rate mortgages shifted credit risks from lenders to borrowers.

o •Financial firms gleefully packaged and traded their debt, making credit easier to obtain than at any other time in history.

o •The Tax Reform Act of 1986 abolished the deductibility of interest, except for mortgages, leading to a stampede toward home-equity loans, on which interest remains deductible, to finance credit card purchases.

In the ’90s, Geisst says, Congress and community activists encouraged excessive lending to low-income groups, expanding the subprime mortgage market. And a 1998 tax law increasing tax-free capital gains on residences to $500,000 per couple “proved to be an irresistible lure for those who thought they could flip their homes for a profit after two years.”

Debt cravings turned to crisis this decade, Geisst writes, as lenders packaged debts and cleared them off their books; regulators relied on bond rating companies to do their work; mortgage originations hit a record $4 trillion (over 13% were subprime also called bad credit mortgages); and bank card customers used plastic to pay for $4.34 trillion worth of purchases. “In order to achieve the American Dream, average American families were going into more debt given the low growth in incomes, factoring in inflation,” the author writes. But Geisst puts excessive blame on consumers without evidence of bad behavior. He maintains that large numbers of homeowners used home-equity loans to run up credit card charges, but he concedes that no statistics confirm this. And the author says the “average American has over 13 credit cards.” In truth, consumers have only about five cards on average, 42% of card holders don’t carry balances and about a quarter of Americans have no credit cards.

How to stop the insanity? Geisst calls for mandatory debt counseling for borrowers who pay only minimums on credit cards; tighter restrictions on tax-free residential capital gains, consumer credit and mortgage approvals; and new laws reinstating state usury ceilings, punishing predatory lenders and creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency like the one the Obama administration has proposed. Government regulation may help stem America’s debt problems, but the recession will probably do even more to make consumers and lenders more cautious. Book Review and Article was written by Richard Eisenberg.

Credit Card Debt Charge Offs Rise

Author: admin - Categories: Consumer Debt News, Credit Market Updates, Published Debt Relief Articles - Tags: , , , ,

A recent article released new info that charged off credit card debt in the U.S. continues to rise for credit card companies like Capital One.  Most analysts believe that the credit crunch will continue as home foreclosures, delinquencies, charge-offs and debt settlement cases keep rising. Finance giant, Capital One reported that they charged off $524.9 million in U.S. credit card debt in July, which is equal to an annualized net charge off rate of 9.83%, the highest charge-off rate of the year. It is also up from June’s rate of 9.73%. Read the complete credit card news post >Credit Crunch and Tightened Home Financing

June 4, 2009

Debt Settlement is Hip

Author: admin - Categories: Consumer Debt News, Credit Market Updates, Published Debt Relief Articles - Tags: , , , , ,

Debt negotiations have become the hip choice for savvy consumers looking to rid their lives of adjustable rate credit card debt. In a recent article, Hector Milla offers suggestions for debt management. He recommends choosing a debt settlement company that has experience negotiating with the finance companies that hold the notes on credit card debt. In the article he reminds us about the pressure that comes with high cost variable rate credit card debt that can get out of hand almost over-night.

When financial obligations begin to mount and it looks like you have no options for becoming debt free, consider debt settlement if you do not qualify for bill consolidation or a second mortgage. A debt settlement company can assist you in improving your financial state by managing and renegotiating outstanding credit card debt. Debt Relief News provides the industry tips and legislation that affects credit, debt, bill collection and bankruptcy laws. > Read original debt negotiations article online.

February 10, 2009

Generation Debt with 60 Minutes Examining Consumer debt

Author: admin - Categories: Consumer Debt News, Credit Market Updates, Debt Relief Videos - Tags:

Watch “Generation Debt” a 60 minutes Video Spotlighting Consumer debt

This video highlights the growing concerns of mounting consumer credit card debt. Watch this In depth analysis by 60 minutes of Gen Y and their credit card use.

January 28, 2009

Do We Need a Credit Card These Days

Author: admin - Categories: Consumer Debt News, Credit Market Updates, Debt Relief Videos, Published Debt Relief Articles - Tags: , ,

Wondered why do we ever need credit cards? To your surprise, you actually need to have a credit card these days.  But you do NOT need credit card debt. As Suze Orman explains, Credit card debt continues to rise, but we live in a credit era that is automated and not having a credit card will limit some your opportunities.  If you have over $10,000 in credit card debt consider a debt consolidation loan or debt settlement.

January 20, 2009

What the Credit Card Companies Know That Keeps Them in Business

Author: admin - Categories: Consumer Debt News, Credit Market Updates, Published Debt Relief Articles - Tags: , , ,

It’s no coincidence that according to the Federal Reserve’s latest survey 46.2% of American families are holding credit card debt and are now in search of debt relief. Credit card companies have made a multi-billion dollar industry out of knowing how consumers think and by predicting the average consumer’s habits.

Here are a few things that banks know that credit card consumers are sometimes in the dark about:

- Possibilities for Problems in the Economy. Many credit card companies have entire teams dedicated to researching the economy and predicting possible economic issues that would cause consumers to use their credit cards more frequently. It is no coincidence that at a time when many people believe that the American economy has hit a recession due to increases in the price of oil, food, and other everyday necessities, the credit card industry is banking more and more interest due to an increase in the daily use of credit cards.

- 0% APR Offers Lure You to Spend More, Thus Owe More. A few years back, credit card companies began sending out numerous 0% APR offers to convince credit card holders at other banks to transfer their balances. While many people took advantage of these 0% offers to save money and pay off debt, they may not have taken into account the fact that by helping to free up money on their credit card accounts, these credit card companies were actually creating somewhat of a trap. If a consumer who is trying to pay off credit cards decides to use the new 0% APR credit card after a certain period of time (even if the 0% balance transfer APR is in effect for the life of the debt), the interest rate on that new purchase balance can shoot up to 18% or more, and is paid off last. That means that 10, 15, or 30 years down the line when the 0% balance is finally paid off, the amount you purchased on the card at 18% has been accruing in interest for all of that time as well. You may find yourself in the same boat as before!

- “Rewarding” You With a Higher Credit Limit Keeps You Hooked. Credit card companies frequently “reward” good customers who pay their bill in full faithfully every month by increasing their credit card limits. But in actuality, they know that as long as your limit continues to rise, you are likely to use the card even more. At some point in that pattern of behavior, you will reach a peak where the credit card company will no longer raise the limit and is profiting from the higher finance charges on your credit card bills. It’s all about predicting the consumer’s behavior.

- Your Past History Predicts the Future. Another bit of invaluable knowledge that credit card companies benefit from is your full credit card history. They have a detailed history of your past purchasing habits, balances, and what you have done in certain situations that have arisen in your financial history. What you have done in the past is a good predictor of your future actions. For example, maybe you started a business and used your credit card to purchase $1,000 in business equipment one month. Now your creditor knows that you are more likely to use your card for both personal and business purposes. In another example, if a creditor sees that you have a penchant for expensive designer clothing, they will not only assume that you will purchase more in the future, but also send you special offers in the mail for designer clothing from its advertising partners.

- Consumers Don’t Always Read the Fine Print. Creditors also bet on the belief that most credit card consumers are too lazy to read the fine print of their credit card bills and agreements. If a credit card customer continues to pay the minimum payment, not knowing what the APR is, and not knowing how payments are applied, they can become trapped in a long cycle where they will pay off credit cards for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, the creditor will continue to reap the benefits of the consumer’s lack of knowledge for a long time to come. Read the entire debt article.