Under the deregulation programs instituted with Reagan and continued by his Republican successors, corporate America has become ever more emboldened to cheat and harass Americans.  Some of the most egregious examples of such abuses are those committed by the major credit card companies.

Scarcely a day goes by when we are not recipients of some special deal by this or that credit card operation — minimal interest payments (unless one misses a payment), large tempting offers that must be ensnaring many.  I know too many of my students who had to drop out of college to catch up on their credit card bills!

And let us look at the cheating techniques.  For no reason at all — no late payment, no excess charge over that contracted — credit card companies can and do increase interest rates without notice — sometimes by several multiples.

I had read about such things and then we had the experience ourselves.  We had been slow to reduce the balances on two of our major cards — we were planning to use an equity line to do so as we try to keep interest as low as possible.  Just as we had completed the payments — letters crossing in the mail — we received notice that our card interest rates had been doubled!  Happy day for us simply to cut up the paid off cards.

Another of our credit card companies waits until we have built up and balance and then increases rates — less drastically.  We close them out and they come back with the lower rate restored.  How many are employed with playing such games with us?

The latest trick or treat makes one want to weep for those who are facing bankruptcies due to a major illness or other tragedy affectimg principal bread winners (perhaps killed in Iraq?)  This consists of constant harassing phone calls in response to a late payment.  We have been undergoing a Catch 22 version of this — a relative not available was apparently late with a payment.  The credit card company constantly calls us at all hours, but will not give us details so that even we in desperation can pay the small amount owing — we are not the card holder.  The phone being called is MINE, however.  I can imagine how the spouse or children of a dying, dead, or gravely ill family member must feel to be receiving comparable calls.

I certainly hope our legislators will do something about these horrors and so will send this around to as many of them as possible.   I suggest that all who receive this memo do the same.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]
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