Ok, I am not a big blog carnival of links kind of guy, but everywhere I looked today, I saw variations on a theme, the credit card companies are out of control in how they are going after consumer’s money. Here is the scoop:
Credit Card Company Goes After Dead Woman’s Family, Blames Her For The Financial Crisis
The only thing that the current financial crisis is missing is an innocent scagegoat. This weekend, I was reading none other than one of my favorite political blogs, Talking Points Memo, when I cam across this story. Now, I don’t want to think about what I would do if one of my parents past away, but the last thing I would be concerned about is their credit card companies. Unfortunately, it appears that Bank of America is actually going after the families of deceased cardholders. They are using their standard bag of tricks including deception and even guilt. It is truly despicable.
Even weirder, is their claim that people like the deceased are responsible for the credit crisis!
Chase Acquires WaMu, Changes Your Automatic Payment Preferences To Encourage You To Pay The Minimum Payment.
WaMu fails and is acquired by Chase. You get a friendly letter welcoming you to the Chase Family or some similar nonsense. Yet, buried in the fine print is the following statement:
“If you are enrolled in automatic payments to your credit card with a fixed payment amount (e.g. $300 monthly), effective March 6, 2009, your automatic payment will be changed to your monthly minimum payment due.”
This according to a post in today’s Consumerist. As we all know, paying the minimum balance is probably one of the most self destructive practices in all of consumer finance. You could probably stop paying, default, declare bankruptcy, and rebuild your credit in less time than it would take to pay off a debt at the minimum balance. Even if you did pay it off, you would almost certainly spend more money on interest than on the original purchase.
For Chase to change people’s settings, and encourage people to pay the minimum payment, is a terribly consumer hostile action. If only they were the exception today.
Next, American Express Cancels Their Fan And Loyal Customer
Over at the nicely named blog: Diary of a Fab Black Woman, there is a post that is making the rounds about a traveler who has always relied on her American Express card. Only when she is traveling overseas and needs it most, does she discover that Amex had in fact canceled her account two days earlier!
Unfortunately, this woman has been a user and a fan of American Express since the old days of the Karl Malden’s “Don’t leave home without it” commercials.
Note to Amex, you will not be profitable by canceling all of your best customers.
Finally, Credit Bureaus Offer To Sell You Bogus Credit Scores
As if the whole credit scoring process wasn’t confusing enough and filled with scams to monitor your credit and provide you with your credit scores, it seems that the credit agencies now want to get down in the mud themselves.
Over at Consumer Reports, there is an article about credit scores that has an interesting, if bizarre and appalling footnote:
FICO is not the only credit score you can . VantageScore, available from Experian for $5.95 and TransUnion for $7.95, is touted as more consistent and simpler than FICO scores. But VantageScore carries this disclaimer: â€œYour credit score may be different from the score used by a lender.â€
Experian also sells its proprietary PLUS scores along with its credit reports. The company says your score helps â€œlenders, landlords, and employers quickly gauge your credit history and decide what kind of risk they are taking if they approve your application.â€ But Experianâ€™s terms of service tell a different story: â€œThe PLUS Score is not currently sold to lenders and is not an endorsement or guarantee of your credit worthiness as seen by lenders.â€
CRâ€™s take. These credit scores probably arenâ€™t worth your money.
So basically, these companies will sell you a worthless credit score that is not really a credit score that any lender actually uses. Great!
In other news, I will be happy to announce the sale of my new PowerScore. This credit score, while not actually used by any lenders, will be chosen at random by a team of monkeys in my basement. You can use it to impress your friends, family, lenders, and drinking buddies.
Best of all, it is free. To obtain this score, please send me your name and contact information as the return address attached to a brand new, 70″ Sony BRAVIA XBR LCD Flat Panel HDTV with Full HD 1080p, Motionflow 120Hz, BRAVIA Engine 2 PRO, 10-bit panel with 10-bit processor, ACE circuit, DMex capable, Live Color Creation technology, and piano gloss black finish.