The average American carries four or more credit cards in their wallet. Many people pushing balances over thousands of dollars with no end in sight. Consumers who were once complaining about credit agencies hiding information about terms and conditions of their cards had their calls heard by the government. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 changed how banks and credit card companies conducted business. The act requires interest rates to be disclosed and phone numbers for credit counseling agencies to be posted on statements for the benefit of the consumer. But despite these efforts, many consumers have yet to pursue the help being provided to them.
Blinded By Debt
Federal regulations require that credit card companies print the toll-free number to credit counseling agencies on every card statement in hopes of encouraging consumers to utilize these services. Despite having their number conveniently located on credit statements for the past 2 years, major credit counseling agencies report receiving calls from only a small percentage of consumers who are facing large amounts of debt. In 2010, nearly 500 million credit card statements were mailed out and only $150,000 consumers contacted the credit counseling agency listed on their statement.
Are people not checking their statements? Or do consumers fear these are just a marketing ploy by “debt settlement” agencies? Although the former may be the case for some, it is more likely that consumers are uninformed. Many confuse credit counseling with suspect debt consolidation or settlement companies that operate to charge outlandish fees for a settling your debt for “pennies on the dollar”. Consumers should be aware that any phone number printed on your credit card statement is a legitimate credit counseling agency that aims to help you evaluate your debt elimination options at little to no cost. These companies are regulated by the government and a qualified agency will be registered with the U.S. Department of Trustees. Visit www.justice.gov to find a reputable credit counseling service in your area.