Monday, March 30, 2009

We are Now Facing the Realities of Debt

Dateline recently aired a show about how deep in debt we are, especially with credit cards, Americans are these days. The show reveals the consequences. It shows how the collection industry is booming as a result, and how they are getting more creative with their strong arm tactics. Follow the link and watch the videos and read about the show.

The Accounts Receivable Management industry advisor that publishes "Inside ARM" reported a rebuttal claiming that the report doesn't represent the industry practices. This is the public stance that any collection agency is going to officially take. However, having worked in collections myself for a while in my previous financial career, I know that what happens behind the scenes is not really like that. Collectors are encouraged to do whatever they need to, but are discouraged from doing it officially. I saw collectors fired when things went bad and the company turned on them making the individual employee the sacrificial lamb for the media. That is exactly what is happening in this report. Employees that were stars, are now bums, simply to save face for the company.

You must know your rights and you must enforce them when you face collectors knocking on your door or otherwise contacting you. To avoid this altogether, get rid of your credit cards before you get into trouble, and establish a crisis fund for emergencies. You don't need to go into debt for an emergency.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Best Time Ever to Cut Up Your Credit Cards

You could make $300 for closing your credit card account! Citigroup, Chase, and Capital One are cutting back on their rewards programs, raising interest rates, and increasing fees. American Express recently offered some of their cardholders $300 to close their accounts. Citibank is offering a $100 gift card to those who were signed up for the "Thank You Rewards" program, and sent out a letter stating that they can revoke any rewards program any time they choose.

If you have a credit card with a reward program, you are spending more than you would otherwise. Chase did some research and found that its cardholders that participate in these reward programs showed a fast increase in spending. Yet at the same time the rewards are becoming harder to cash in. But the result of all this is that cardholders with high credit scores are becoming the new targets, and the strategy is to get them hooked in with rewards programs, and then jack their interest rates up, and start adding fees.