July 13th, 2009
As the nation has moved toward more convenient, reduced cost and trouble banking via the use of those ubiquitous debit cards – you know, those not-really credit cards that allow you to make purchases without having to write a check – banks saw a perfect opportunity to fleece their ordinary (not-rich) customers yet again, to the tune of 1000% on small purchases. Who in their right mind would voluntarily sign for a loan at that sort of ridiculous rate? Well, if you use your debit card, chances are, you did.
It used to be that if there wasn’t enough money in your account to cover a purchase, your debit card wouldn’t go through. If you happen to be among the millions of Americans who barely make it from paycheck to paycheck, you’re much better off floating a check the day before payday so it won’t get debited until the paycheck gets recorded. But many people have found that they can still use their debit card, then have to pay the bounced check fee anyway.
As described by Chris Plummer in a commentary at Marketwatch, this can add up to usurious fleecing of the consumer. Particularly if you allow the bank to automatically deduct some of your monthly bills, which can leave you short even if you think you should have money enough to cover lunch the day AFTER payday! Plummer does the math and notes that if you end up having to pay the bank a $35 overdraft charge on a $3.50 lunch purchase, the effective interest is 1000%.
Moreover, if somebody else uses your debit card – steals it and manages to find your code in order to use it, or (in many cases) a child or other relative decides to withdraw on a card you lent for a one-time use – YOU are on the hook. If it were a credit card, the lender’s money is at-risk, so fraudulent use has built-in protections that you won’t be stuck with the bill. Since that debit card can only access YOUR money, you have to pay regardless of theft and fraud.
Plummer details the risks very well, so do check out the link and arrange your money management accordingly. Pay your bills on line only after the paycheck has been deposited and immediate purchases are covered, don’t let the bank do it for you. Always get your card back from anyone you’ve given it to for a one-time purchase, to protect yourself against them using it when it will overdraw your account. Keep strict track of your usage and fees, and if they’re costing you a lot you can go back to a regular checking situation. Which may be more trouble and generate more paperwork, but will protect you from the bank’s greed as well as protect your financial privacy. Check fraud IS protected just like credit card fraud in most states, where debit card fraud is not.
If your bank account is like mine, your money flows through and doesn’t sit in the vault earning a lot of interest for you or the bank. The bank is in business to make money, not to make your life convenient. Don’t trust them with the details of your financial struggles or you may find yourself paying them a big chunk of your income every month for nothing.Filed under Credit, Credit Cards, Debt | Comment (0)
February 9th, 2009
Despite the ever-worsening economic collapse, the almost complete unavailability of credit, and the oughtta be illegal raising of credit card interest rates to usurious levels, most of us are still getting the usual 3 or 4 Super-Duper Gold-Plus 0% APR credit card offers per week. I’m still getting them, and I don’t even have any credit!
They’ve been building up in the trash portion of my filing system for over a month now, so I thought I’d go through them all at once for one last laugh before using them as fire-starter in the wood stove. Almost immediately I was struck by the clever marketing gimmick of making this credit card or that one sound super-exclusive on the basis of the color of the plastic.Credit, Credit Cards | Comment (1)
January 28th, 2009
For those of us on the short end of the recent and ongoing mass looting of the economy by the kind of ant-populist robber barons who make Jesse and Frank James seem like do-gooders The Hardy Boys, there is now a historical record of the Fortune 500 CEO Hall of Shame in what could be printable trading cards outlining the shameful accomplishments of the Worst of the Worst.
Check out the card for Lehman Brothers’ Richard Fuld, whose stats list a total loss of $29 billion, while his personal take for the efforts comes in at a cool $71.9 million. Look at that punum… does he look suspiciously like a lizard? Then there’s Countrywide’s Angelo Mozilo, with a face only a mother (or a Sicilian Don) could love. Stats: in the loss column, a total of $22 billion. It’s the personal take that’s truly impressive – $225.7 million. This guy was good at being bad!
So if you’re overdue for an out-loud chuckle in the midst of economic meltdown designed to do the most amount of serious harm to the most number of honest, hard-working citizens, don’t miss this offering by BusinessPundit. It’s well worth the waste of card stock and color toner.Art, Credit Cards, Debt, Elitism, Holidays, Humor, Pirates | Comment (0)
January 2nd, 2009
For those of us out there who still have work and a regular paycheck, and who managed to put some store-bought presents under the tree on Christmas, some shock and awe may be hitting home right about now when the credit card bills are received. Seems the credit card companies have exercised the clauses in the light gray 6pt type nobody ever reads to raise their interest rates and fees through the roof and cutting off available credit altogether no matter how good your credit score may be or how promptly you pay your bill. Some card companies have been creative about shuffling due dates at will, confusing customers and hamstringing small business, and some are refusing to even try to explain to customers what’s going on or what their options may be.
As Kathleen Ryan O’Connor explained in a recent CNN article, Credit cards gone wild: Shocking rate hikes, “Faced with the same economic pressures as other companies affected by the ongoing recession and credit crunch, credit card companies are racing to protect themselves from the costs of more defaults by hiking interest rates and slashing credit limits, even for cardholders with excellent credit histories.” Banking analyst Meredith Whitney predicts that $2 trillion in credit lines will be wiped out over the next year and a half.
As if to add a note of irony to the pain and suffering of consumers and businesses being screwed by their credit card companies, those new card offers are still coming in at the undiminished rate of one a day. One wonders if the marketing department ever even communicates with the front office!Credit, Credit Cards, Debt, Economic Recession, Legislation, Shopping | Comment (0)