CardTrack.com says “the percentage of people delinquent on their credit cards is the highest it’s been in three years,” according to CNN. Over the past year, U.S. consumers have charged “more than $2.2 trillion in purchases and cash advances.” The article gives the usual advice: Stop buying stuff!
Last Thursday 2/14, I ordered a 32GB iPod touch from CircuitCity.com at $474 + tax for a total of about $514. After thinking about it for a bit, I logged back in and canceled the order – just a bit too steep for an iPod, you know? I figured I’d have to wait a while for the price to drop, and left it at that. Well, believe it or not, I received a call at work today from a Circuit City sales rep at corporate telling me he’d offer me the iPod at a discount, so CC could keep my business. I was baffled – nothing like this has ever happened to me before, but the price he gave me $420 + tax… was too good to pass up.
Joseph writes in with a helpful reminder:
Now might be a good time to remind people that they can opt-out of pre-screened offers of credit. In light of the HSBC debacle I’ve been victim of, I checked out my credit report yesterday. I was amazed at how often the major credit card companies (AMEX, Capital One, Bank of America, etc…) access my credit history in order pre-screen me for promotional purposes. Consumers can opt-out at: www.optoutprescreen.com
I wanted to inform consumerist that the manager from the Apple Store at Stonestown called me back to apologize about the incident and to invite me back to the store. She apologized for the employees making ID a requirement of purchase and that they were doing it to protect from fraud. She then mentioned that they understand they were not following the merchant agreements but will do so here on out. I will go back to make my purchase!
Scott, a member of management for a retail chain, wants to share the other side of the checking-ID debate:
Your website continually runs stories about how merchants aren’t allowed to ask for ID during a credit transaction. I work on the management team at a nationwide retailer, and credit card fraud occasionally hits our location. Every so often, we are hit with something called a ‘retrieval request’ from one of the big 4 credit authorization companies (Discover, AMEX, MC, Visa). This means we have 48 hours to provide a legible signed receipt, and video evidence of my staff checking a photo ID to verify the cardholder.
If you’re an HSBC customer, check your account, as there may be a wave of fraudulent activity hitting your bank. Two days ago we wrote about the guy in the U.S. who discovered his account had been drained by someone in Bulgaria. Later that day we received an email from Emily in NYC who was having similar problems, only her fraud-buddy was in California and Canada making withdrawals on her account.
Emily’s fiancé wrote back to us today with an update, and according to Emily, the HBSC Fraud Investigator who spoke to her “said that their fraud department was so overwhelmed, it was ‘still in the developing stage of how we’re going to handle’ it. I asked if she knew how many customers were affected and she stated ‘We don’t even know.'”
We received the following strangely awesome, if a bit strange, letter from a consumer who was not allowed to purchase something at the Apple store because he would not show ID. It was sent to Steve Jobs and William Rhodes (of Citibank.) Let’s listen in:
Bank of America still isn’t giving customers, and now, reporters, a straight answer when asked why they’ve been jacking up people’s interest rates to 23, 29%. [Star-Telegram]
All Presidential candidates should have a plan to wean America off its credit card dependence. We collectively owe almost $1 trillion to credit card companies, but only the Democratic candidates have written plans to reform the credit card industry. Alpha Consumer wrote an excellent summary of their competing plans to strike at some of the industry’s most harmful practices.
A 23-year-old gas station attendant in Massachusetts has been charged with identity theft after a customer noticed that her card was used to make additional purchases a few hours after she’d been at the station.
Check your statements. Fraudulent charges of $429 for “ID Safe” are showing up on some people’s credit card bills. Which is odd, because usually these places use tiny charges so they’re more likely to go unnoticed. If you see a suspicious charge on your credit card, call your card company immediately to check it out and get it reversed if need be. On the credit card statement, the phone number listed for ID safe is 888-261-6045. After the jump, what happened to one consumer when he called the number and got through to the mastermind, who sounded like she was banging pots around in her kitchen…
More about Bank of America’s inexplicable rate hikes against good customers who never pay late: the Charlotte Observer talks to some recent recipients of BoA’s infamous rate-increase letters from the past few weeks. The first person they talk to is a 60-year-old woman who “had never been late on a credit card payment, just refinanced her home at a lower interest rate, and just been rewarded by her credit union with a lower rate on her credit card there.” Bank of America just raised her card from 13% to 24.99%.
Capital One Account Supervisors: 1-800-707-0489. They have full access and powers to fix any account problems. They’re probably even so smart that they can tell what’s in your wallet without even asking.
Here’s a great credit card that will allow you to express how awesome you are at a variable APR between 7.75% and 26.95%. Yes, kids, it’s the Hooters MasterCard, and according to their website, it’s been “rated #1 by some fake award.”
The Credit Card Bill Of Rights Act, which was introduced on Thursday in the U.S. House of Representatives, would limit interest rate hikes and late fee penalties that credit card companies use to unfairly squeeze profits from customers.
Consumers are not being as big sluts with their credit cards as they slowly discover that they have no money. [WSJ]
BusinessWeek has just published an article about Bank of America’s recent surprise mailings in January to some of its customers, announcing “that it would more than double their rates to as high as 28%, without giving an explanation for the increase.” These customers have good credit scores and hadn’t made any late payments, and those who called Bank of America to ask why this was happening weren’t given clear reasons. Industry experts say Bank of America has reached a “new level” of “lack of transparency in raising rates,” beyond anything Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase currently practice, because BoA is apparently using some undisclosed internal metric to determine who gets the rate hike.
“We live in a small town, and everybody looks at your clothes and what you drive and where you have your hair done,” said Ms. Gamble, who earns about $2,600 a month as a grievance counselor at a local prison.