Monthly Archives: May 2009

Credit Card Reform – Standing up for the Big Guys.

Standing up for Credit cardsAmerica, let’s all hold hands and shed a collective tear for the credit card companies. Oh, woe is me! No more charging outrageous interest rates, no more changing billing cycles without notification, and now you have to send out account statements twenty one days instead of fourteen days in advance. Boo-hoo! Can someone pah-lease pass the tissues.

Really, come on-any person with (and I’m not going to say common sense) but with any sense of human decency would realize that charging more the 15% interest is consumer exploitation. Changing billing cycles without notification is just freaking sneaky and the twisted, double-talking jargon of the fine print is difficult for economists to understand. Look, it’s going to harm no one  for these credit card companies to make the fine print easier to understand. My bigger question is this, why do many in this nation want to stand up and defend the big guys. When did standing up for the little guy and the misfortunate become a bad thing? 

 Bill Maher said it best when he compared the love of money to religion, and for me these corporations are like God in the eyes of many-they are Omni-potent and Omni-powerful. We bow down to the CEO’s and beg for mercy for our decrepit, debtor souls. Have we not learned anything from AIG? These corporate Gods are not kind gods; they are the wrathful, greedy gods-who needs them!

So why do many fret to regulate corporate exploitation of consumers? One, I believe many people aspire to the wealth and power of these CEO’s, or they have a form of Stockholm Syndrome-identifying with your abuser. You know it’s kind of like taking the side of the bully on the playground so you, yourself won’t get beat up. I think mostly people are more concerned with their own well being. “I was good with my credit, what will happen to me? Will I still be able to get my rewards? Will I have to pay a higher fees and interest rates?”

Here’s the bottom line-if these credit card companies are in the practice of stealing from Peter to pay Paul, who do you blame-Paul? Why not blame the stealer-the credit card companies? Look, if a credit card company raises the fees and reduces rewards because they cannot charge another person 24% interest rate, then shame on the credit card company. That is bad business and bad customer service. Credit card customer service-that will be another blog.

I agree with many, the consumers with debt are responsible for their debt. No one is speaking otherwise. The point is merely this; do not exploit those with debt by making it impossible to pay down with a high interest rate. I shed no tears for the credit card companies-they bought it one themselves just like the people who overspent on credit.

Evolving America

Evolving AmericanThis blog has nothing really to do with credit cards, money or the economy. It’s more a concern I have for what is happening in our country and what is happening is change. Yes, folks we are changing, our society is changing our nation is changing-the world is changing. Many are clinging onto old ways with white knuckle fists and I believe are threatening the very peace of our nations. We need not fear the Taliban, or the North Koreans-we need to fear ourselves, because that is who is creating the most danger.

Whether you believe in Darwin’s theories, evolution is a natural part of life. We not only evolve physically from children, teens to adults we evolve emotional, mentally and yes even spiritually. And as individuals evolve so do nations and so does the world. History tells us that holding onto old world notion lose every time to progress. One such notion was the world was flat, yet as we are well aware of today, it is not. Rome was once thought to be undefeatable, only for them to crumble in their own decadence. We need not ask too many questions, because our ancestors have already found the answers; if only we listen.

Today, our country is experiencing change. Notably it is our economy. Simply our economic ways of the past failed, and have to be changed for the future. Regulations needed to be placed on corporations and credit issuers to protect consumers. Our climate is changing (whether some want to believe it is from cow farts, or not), this will have a huge effect on our food supply and these are just the start of the changes.

Why, if our climate is changing and our economy faltering, would people be afraid of change? Why condemn and criticize others for boldly stepping toward the future with new and innovative ideas that would benefit all? Why even challenge?

The answer is fear and self preservation. What will happen to me in this change? What will be my place in this new world? And for some, will I lose power and money in this new world? Will my ideas lose credibility with science and innovation? Will everything I believe in be shattered with new information-quite possibly? Should we provoke hostility and prevent peace simply for new ideas and other opinions we don’t understand or disagree?

As we watch our youth evolve into adults and Spring evolve into Summer, perhaps it is a time we contemplate our own evolution.

Hypocrisy of Consumerism

consumerism 1There is absolutely no doubt there has been rampant consumerism which has caused many to go into credit card debt. It is a problem, yes indeed! But we also have to admit that blatant hypocrisy exists in regards to corporations and consumerism. Based on our capitalistic-free market economy, it is consumerism that churns our economy. We are not only encouraged to spend; our government has given us tax credits to spend more and more. And not only are we encouraged to spend, the government had in the past told us not to save. Don’t pad your savings accounts with tax incentives-spend!  We need to spend to jumpstart the economy. This has been the message to the American people for decades. But really, who does this economic theory benefit, you got it-Corporations! Hooray!

Still many want to condemn and criticize the American consumer, while corporations who spend lavish amounts of money on advertising and promotions get a free ride. Who is telling these corporations there is the need for responsibility and accountability? Perhaps corporations too should be more frugal. You see, here is the vicious cycle-corporations spend money to encourage us to spend money so they can make more money and give bonuses to their employees. Many Americans buy these products whether they can afford them or not and go into debt at the mercy of the credit corporations who in turn make more money off consumers. It is vicious and does no good for our overall economy.

So when we blame the American Public for consumerism and debt, isn’t that just a factor of a capitalistic, free market economy? If we saved and spent only what we could afford, would corporations make as much money? Would credit card companies even be in business? No, not if we spent what we earned. And what about all those entrepreneurs and future business leaders of tomorrow, can they hope to achieve their American Dream of becoming millionaires if the public didn’t buy into their consumer products? Heck no!

People have been complaining up and down about credit reform and what it will do to our economy and the credit industry, but it is the same people who blame consumers for doing what they are told to keep spending and keep these very companies rich and powerful.

If we believe in a fiscally responsible economy, then we cannot be narrow minded and blame one side or the other, because both corporations and consumers have been irresponsible. If we want a responsible, strong economy then we must have to learn that we cannot have everything we desire. We have to learn that we will have to earn and achieve our goals. Corporations simply cannot run over consumers in order to make billions, and consumers have to be responsible.

As Bill Maher has said on numerous occasions, “Can’t we just be happy with what we have? Why do we keeping wanting more?” I think that comment says tons about our society. We can’t be happy. We’re not happy when we need to keep filling ourselves with money and consumer goods to fill our hearts and minds. Remember the good old days when all we needed was love…., now we need love and all its material accessories.

The Value of Credit Reform

American valuesYou’d think with all my carrying on about credit card reform, I would have thrown a party, or danced a little jig on Friday afternoon when President Obama signed Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, but I was too busy commiserating friends who were laid off this past week. 500 people were laid off from Nike WHQ here in Portland, so with every good news, there is bad. It’s just proof that we have still a long way to go before our economy is truly recovered.

As happy as I am about this legislation, this past week I still had to bear abuse from the false claim of a debt collector; a smart a** debt collector who recited me another woman’s social security number and accused me of being a liar in my own home. I still believe FICO is a ridiculous system that needs to be overhauled. Number one, there is no reason consumers should not have free access to their credit scores at all time, any time, while any credit merchant can look at our payment history freely. I do think the credit reporting is a little unfair and is to at creditor discretion. Honestly folks, we should have access and control over our own credit reports-heck they don’t even get out medical information to friends and part of our family, but any Dick can look at our credit report.

I recently read an article written in the Idaho Statesman, blaming consumerism for the problems with credit cards. Although the author of the article was leaning toward the side of credit issuers, and I was poised to debate his perspective, I was comforted several people already did make my point so I moved on. But after the bill is signed and reform underway, I do believe a point needs to be made of our values. There are so many connections to be made, but materialism and superficiality is a problem in which we as a culture need to address, and with this problem it doesn’t matter whether you are a Democrat, or Republican; materialism and superficiality do not discriminate with race, religion or sexual orientation. Materialism and superficiality is a problem we all face.

Many talk of American values; but few are able to define what these values are. A value we seem to have is, wanting what we want, when we want it without any consequences or care to the cost or what it does to another. We have lost value in the heart and soul and all that is true, that is of course if the value doesn’t apply to our personal values. What we value more than anything is money and we don’t care if we abuse and step on others in order to get it.

But then again, we are an economy built on consumerism, it is spending money and more money that we have been told that drives our economy-now we are being blamed for spending too much. Where do we as a nation find that economic balance; our government, corporations, or are we the American consumer responsible for finding the spending balance? Hmm, curious point that needs more thought…

Debt Collectors – High Paid Bullies

Last week I had the great opportunity of being a part of a radio show with students from Cleveland High School here in Portland. The topic of conversation was bullies, from school yard bullies to now anonymous internet bullying. All of it bears great consequences to teen psyches, but does the threat of bullying ever go away?

Ironically, right before I left to do the interview, I received a call from a debt collector, verbally harassing me for a debt that wasn’t even mine. He went as far as calling me a liar. I was lying about my own identity and innocence. Look, even in the highest laws of the land, we are innocent until proven guilty, but not in regards debt collecting. They see it the other way around. What proof did this guy have of my debt, my name and my telephone number given to him by some chick’s ex-husband? Hum, let’s see; the dude probably was covering for his ex-wife giving debt collectors a phony number, or the guy assumed I was her. Other than that, the debt collector had nothing, but that did not stop him from verbally harassing me in the privacy of my own home.

In giving thought to this subject, high school, internet and adult bullying I have come to a conclusion that we are a society that preys on the victim; somehow we rationalize the victim deserves what they get. A teenage victim of bullying may be overweight, shy, awkward or even just different. Does that mean they deserved to be bullied? What about the victim of rape? Did she deserve it because she may have dressed provocatively? What about the gay man? Did he deserve to be beaten up because he was different? What about the Arab detainees? Do they deserve to be tortured because we fear their differences? And what about the debtor, do they deserve verbal abuse, harassed and threatened of house and home for a debt a collector cannot sometimes prove?

Taking in consideration our former administration’s mission to torture, they tortured prisoners hoping to give our government rationalization for a war they started without just cause. They wanted to offer proof to the American public by torturing false confessions. This is exactly the tactic used by many debt collectors. In most recent attempts with myself and friends, a debt collector used an abusive tactic to collect money, whether verbal accusations, jury summons, threats to garnish wages and in some cases jail time. They used threatening tactics in order to get us to pay. They believe, the ends justify the means, and if they have to verbally abuse and attack, then so be it.

In several of these occasions, no money was due, the debt was either settle years ago, or they just have inaccurate information. But you see debt collectors don’t really care if you owe money, all they care about is if you pay. They don’t care if the right person pays the money due, as long as they get the money, and they get paid for collecting. It is merely resorting to scare tactics, cheap threats and bullying to extort money from innocent people-this to me is criminal and should be a crime.

Although it is not a crime, these abusive tactics are illegal and many Americans may be due compensation for unlawful harassment. If you feel, you have been harassed by a debt collector, whether or not you owed money. Please refer to the following information-888 FDCPA LAW (888-332-7252) TOLL FREE, http://www.FairDebtForConsumers.com, http://www.AttorneysForConsumers.com. You may find out you have a claim and the debt collector might have to pay you! Stand up for yourself and those around you. Let’s say no to bullies.

Mr. Debt Collector-You will be hearing from my lawyer

Although I am not official a victim of identity theft, a woman’s ex husband is giving my phone number to debt collectors. Unfortunately I share the same name as a woman with severely bad debt. Fortunately, my social security number has not been used.

Today wasn’t the first time I received a phone call from a debt collector looking for this other woman. And it wasn’t the first time a debt collector repeated another woman’s social security number to me. Think about it folks – Debt Collectors are wrongly giving out people’s social security numbers. We worry about identity theft, but we never think people in the credit and collecting industry would be GIVING away our informatio

Today however is the first time when I told Mr. Debt Collector from Advanced Financial Solutions (7600 Wayzata Blvd Minneapolis, MN 55426, (763) 432-2461-since they can give out another woman’s social security so freely, I feel I can give their phone number) harassed me and tried to bully me when I told them they had the wrong person-seriously!

 First off, I told the man (I am being kind calling him a man) this was not my debt, he has the wrong person. “NO I DON’T” he scolded bluntly. I asked for the debt information and partial social. Once he gave it to me, I confirmed once again. That is not me. “YES IT IS!” he demanded, “Your ex-husband, Joe Schmoe gave us this number.” I responded. “That is not my ex-husband.”  “YES IT IS!” I asked to talk to his supervisor and he arrogantly told me, “He was the owner!”  Congratulations.

So here it is where it gets laughable. You’d think I know my ex-husband. You’d think I know my own social security number when I heard it. Did this guy think I’d cave under his intense harassment and admit to the debt and pay? Yes, that is exactly what he thought. He continued by scolding me, “You can’t run away from you debt forever.” Well, dude, seriously it is not my debt. You are wrong. He could not admit he was wrong. He was.

I told the “man” that I will be contacting my lawyer for harassment and he arrogantly invited me to do so. I did. The nice people at the fair credit reporting act. Lesson to all-regardless of debt, people should not be subjected to harassment and be bullied into paying money you MAY not even owe. This is bullying and scare tactics.

Well this ding dong at Advanced Financial Solutions found himself in doggy doo-doo for being an arrogant SOB and not listening to an innocent person….More on this when I have the mind to write more eloquently.

Politics of Credit Card Reform

You got it! The welfare of American consumers is political, which surprises me greatly when both political parties pledge platforms to help the average American. But what is even more surprising is when one of the parties actually steps into help Americans, the other party finds great fault. Direct from the Business and Media Institute (guess what side of the credit card reform battle they’re on.) Author Jim Poor, yes-Jim Poor takes a sarcastic swing at credit card consumers and President Obama. Jim Poor; is that like calling a fat man Tiny? I can only assume that since Mr. Poor is on the side of creditors he must value wealth. The irony is just very incredibly juicy.

Mr. Poor finishes his article with this blurb, “But that begs the question – if Obama is going to save us all, why even bother thinking.” Well, heck Jim I have been THINKING for years that credit card companies were scandalously taking advantage of consumers. I honestly do not need anyone one to think for me…and besides the credit card companies are not shy about their exploitation. It says so in their fine print-“At Our Discretion.”

Let me get down the nitty gritty of the political fold here. If President Bush and the Republicans have taken the side of credit consumers they would have been brandished heroes. Wasn’t it McCain and Palin who solicited the help of Joe the Plumber to give voice to the average American, but this is the party denying average Americans rights? Isn’t this the party that gave tax breaks to the wealthiest elite while taxing heavier on the poor? Isn’t this the party who loosened regulation on the food industry that has been poisoning our children? Isn’t this the party that gave government contracts to their corporate buddies (KBR) that are killing our soldiers? That doesn’t sound like they truly support average Americans. Instead they spent most their time ruining our economy, giving power to corporations that exploit consumers, oh yeah and they tortured. Perhaps it is a good thing President Bush and Republicans didn’t not take up credit card reform who knows what they may have done to debtors. The hypocrisy here smells extremely foul.

The political fray from this is President Obama and many democrats are doing their job in protecting and serving the average American. Wait, what did I just say-our government is standing up for the little guy and not the big corporations like AIG and KBR who not only exploit Americans but kill American soldiers. How can we possibly condemn and criticize our president who is standing up for the rights of all Americans? Unbelievable-it goes to prove the true selfish and greedy hearts of others. What this negativity and criticism is all about is the Republicans trying to save their political hide because they have done nothing for the American people.

Heck Jim, personally I think it is you who should get your head out of your….and do some thinking, because you see America should be run by the people, not the corporations and certainly not by like-minded folks like you.