In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 17, 2006 / 25 Tishrei, 5767

Banks play dirty, rotten card tricks

By Lenore Skenazy

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Zero percent interest — till we jack it up the wazoo! No late fees — until you're late! Low, low monthly payments — so you can say in debt forever!

Ah, if only the credit card companies laid it on the line like that. But of course, why would they? They're making fistfulls of dough hiding their fees and penalties deeper than the peanuts in Cracker Jack.

How MUCH dough? In 2003, Americans paid almost $8 billion in credit card fees — quadruple what we paid in 1996. Hey, when being one hour late on your payment costs $34, it adds up fast! And so do the penalties for going over your credit limit.

Oh, you didn't know that when you go over your limit, your card is no longer automatically declined? Now it buys your item AND a $35 penalty AND a penalty rate: 30% from now on. Too bad you didn't read page 13, paragraph 4, section d. The card companies are fleecing Americans so efficiently, even the government is taking notes!

Er, notice.

A report last week by the General Accountability Office — that's Congress' investigative arm — concluded that the info provided by most card companies in fact exhibits "various weaknesses that reduced consumers' ability to use it and understand it."

Which makes the GAO sound like a credit card company itself. So here's how my friend James puts it:

"They are dirty and nasty."

He ought to know. He got socked with a couple of those late fees, making it even harder for him to pay off his balance. "All I was doing was paying the interest!" says the Harlem retiree. "It had to be about 25%."

And, frankly, 25% doesn't even sound that bad anymore, compared to the 30% rates — and higher — being generated by a new practice called "universal default."

Under universal default, already employed by roughly half of all the card companies, if you're late paying ANY bill - even (if it gets outsourced to a collections agency) your LIBRARY BILL — your credit card is allowed to jack up your interest rate as if you had paid ITS bill late.

The GAO report disapproved of this, too — or at least the fact that most consumers have no idea this could happen to them, thanks to the card companies' legalese.

In response, Edward Yingling, president of the American Bankers Association, was quoted as saying, "The disclosure system is not working well. It needs to be fixed."

Not working well? Oh please — the "disclosure system" is working exactly the way the companies want it to. It's perfect! It's so exquisitely misleading that we are now spending $90 billion a year in interest and penalty payments. That's $90 billion of our money with nothing to show for it except credit card company profits!

How hard would it be for a statement to say: "Here's your bill. Pay it PRONTO or we'll soak you dry. Go over your limit, we'll soak you dryer. Pay by phone, there's gonna be a fee. Pay by computer, we just imposed a new fee. Pay any OTHER bill late and..."

You get the idea. So does the GAO. Now let's hope Congress does, too, and forces the credit cards to let us in on their tricks. Or, even better: Stop using them!

But I'm open to a special introductory offer.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

Lenore Skenazy Archives

© 2006, NY Daily News