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Is Your Credit Card Your Worst Enemy?

Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody. Agatha Christie (1890-1976)

Make no mistake, the outcome of using a credit card is to create debt. It would be a lot more difficult to market a "Debt" card but that is what they are. In case you weren't aware of it, Federal regulators are pressuring banks into raising the minimum credit card payment from 2% to 4% to "help" consumers get out of debt quickly but somehow failed to address the usury interest rates charged by these companies.

Here are a few things you might not know about the credit card industry.

Credit Card Industry Facts:

The credit card industry earned $1,200,000,000,000 last year. That is $1.2 TRILLION in profits.

In 2004 consumers were charged $14.8 BILLION dollars in late fees.

Here's a cute little tactic used often by our credit card brethren. Not posting your payment on the day it is received so that they can charge you the late fee. They made millions using this technique last year.

Changing the due date or mailing the bill so that it is difficult at best to meet the deadline and there by charging another late fee. With two late charges on your 'record' your interest rate goes up as much as 10 points. This can be done without notifying you, by the way.

These companies have even resorted to not mailing out statements so that you will pay late and therefore be charged at least $29 in late fees and sometimes more.

Signing you up without your permission for credit insurance that virtually never pays out.

Checking your credit reports to see if you are charging on other cards and if it is 'deemed excessive', raising your interest rate by as much as twice your current rate.

Charging you a $25 fee for NOT USING your credit card.

Capital One has been sued because their customers mailed in the checks a full two weeks before the due date but were deemed late, charged the late fee and the interest rate was hiked to double digits.

Citibank paid a $45 million dollar settlement because they improperly assessed late fees and raised the interest rate up to 24% if the customer was late on any payments to other creditors, even if you are current on every payment to them.

The largest settlement by far against a credit card provider was against Providian for $300 Million dollars! Why? For improperly assessing late fees and charging customers for things they never ordered like credit insurance. The amount of the fine was proportional to the amount of abuse.

Sometimes because of the stress associated with these fees and abuses, people go out and try to borrow their way out of trouble with debt consolidation loans. This only adds to the problem if they don't tear up the cards.

Credit card debt has gotten to the point that it is not like owing the general store and not paying off the bill at the end of the month or when you get your next pay check. This is loan sharking at its worst and some say the rights of individuals were taken away by the changes in the bankruptcy laws made recently due to the efforts of lobbyists from the credit card companies. I think the little guy needs help and that is why I wrote this book. There is a term used often in Real Estate: "Operating from a position of superior knowledge". One can get sued for taking advantage of another for just this reason. Seems to me, the credit card companies mentioned above along with many others, are operating from a position of superior knowledge.

According to Robert Hinsley, a Houston attorney, "Being a good customer is not going to protect you," says Hinsley. "Nor will paying your bill on time each month protect you. Many of the major cards -- First USA, Chase, Capital One, Providian, Citibank, Penney's -- have been sued over practices regarding unfair billing practices and blatantly using tactics to cheat you out of your money. There is plenty of evidence that indicates most credit card companies think you are dumb and helpless and will not take any action. So they can easily use dirty tricks to cheat you out of your money."

Now are you ready to fight back and negotiate a settlement with these people? Don't be discouraged because the good news is, you can fight back. You can negotiate and you can reach a settlement advantageous to you! Pull yourself up to your full height, take a deep breath, know you are not alone and let's get started!