Those of you who witnessed or read about the recent Senate hearings on abuse by credit card companies and their reprehensible billing practices and interest rates ain’t heard nothin’ yet. A Senate investigative subcommittee last week held three major credit card companies’ feet to the fire for irresponsible and unresponsive practices toward their consumers.

An Ohio man, Wesley Wannemacher, told a horror story about his $3,200 credit card debt that escalated to $10,700 when interest and fees were added on. This, despite the fact that Wannemacher had made payments averaging $1,000 a year for six years. An executive with Chase Card Services quickly (and coincidentally) apologized to Wannamacher and cancelled the charges.

For those of us who scratch our heads and wonder what the hell all that fine print on the back of our credit card statements means, the Senate hearings were all too familiar territory. A government report, prepared for the hearings, revealed that credit card fine print is written at a 27th grade level. In other words, you would need a four-year medical degree and a PhD to understand your monthly credit card billing.

But wait! There’s more…and it’s even more disturbing. Bank of America is now issuing credit cards to Hispanic immigrants, many of whom are in the United States illegally, and who have no Social Security numbers, no federal income tax IDs, and no credit card history. As congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) put it, Bank of America views the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country as customers, not as lawbreakers.

Most of Bank of America’s business is in California, home for thousands of Latinos who are in this country illegally. By obtaining credit cards, these illegal immigrants now have access to other forms of credit, helping to make amnesty a fait accompli, according to the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.

Gordon Hanson, an immigration expert at the University of California San Diego, says Bank of America can’t make 12 million illegal aliens citizens, but it can make them customers. Of course, Bank of America is doing much more than that. By obtaining the Bank of America credit card, the immigrants establish other lines of credit and meet the requirements for better mortgage rates. While it is true that Bank of America covers much of its risk by charging the immigrants a 21% interest rate, if you will check your Bank of America card, you will find that you are typically being charged 19.74%. Yes, the difference between you and an illegal immigrant with no Social Security number, no tax ID, and no credit history is 1.26%!

While credit card fraud and identity theft are rampant in the U.S., issuing credit cards to individuals with little or no documentation is a dangerous and devious action on the part of credit card companies and the U.S. government, who seems to think that inaction is a form of acceptable response. It is indeed ironic that the credit card company at the forefront of this travesty is Bank of America, which derives its name from the nation it is shortchanging.

– Chase. Hamil

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