October 12, 2008
Dear President Barack Obama,
I’d like to put in my two cents worth on credit card companies and my strong desire for more regulation in the credit card industry. I realize my views may not be the hot political topics of the week, but hey, I call them as I see them.
Way back in the day, as in twenty-five years ago, I was a college student at the University of Hawaii. An older student, all of twenty-five, paying my way through school. I had no credit cards and no debts and the idea of acquiring credit had not yet entered my head. My college roommate had a Liberty House credit card. It got my attention, but to my chagrin I was denied my own when I applied. It seemed that although I had no debts and a solid job cocktailing at Bobby McGee’s, credit card companies were not willing to take a risk on someone with no credit history. I learned by asking that one needed to establish a good credit history to be taken seriously in acquiring credit. My dad cosigned a Sear’s credit application and I had my first card. It had a $300 credit limit. My father explained that I was to use this prudently and to pay it off each month – thus establishing my good credit.
Fast forward twenty-five years later. Our 20 year old daughter who attends the University of Hawaii and whose only job is as a part time nanny (making barely enough money to cover her gas and parking), who shares my car with me, who commutes 45 minutes each way to school because we cannot afford a dorm; yes, this same girl – SHE gets fishing letters from both Chase and Capital One saying she is pre approved and please sign on the dotted line for a card right away. We tear these letters up. She called and asked to be taken off their lists. We went online and signed her up for the no-solicit-me-for-credit-in-the-mail. We still get these letters asking her if she wouldn’t like to go in debt before she even gets out of college.
We have had three occasions on our street with mail getting stolen. Once, we were the victims. The person who stole our mail tried to use my name and address to buy items online in some credit card scam. I have gone online several times and signed up not to be solicited by credit companies. Still, every week several offers for loans and cards arrive by mail.
My 82 year old mother has several credits cards and keeps maxing these out, getting her limits raised, and maxing them out again. This is a woman who inherited two homes and a decent retirement savings from her parents back in the 70’s. She quit her job and lived off the money, then sold one home, then took out a huge mortgage on the other. She eventually lost that home and soon after filed bankruptcy. She pawned off everything worth anything. For many many years now she has lived off a meager income and will NEVER, EVER be able to pay off the debts she is incurring. She knows this and does not care. “Those bills will die with me.” I can live with the fact that she never thought to help her children pay for college, and that she never made sure she would be secure in her retirement. But I cannot sign anything that would make me responsible for my crazy mother, as I am scared to death to someday get stuck with tens of thousands of dollars of dept she has accrued. I blame the crazy credit card companies for giving her credit in the first place when it is obvious to absofuckinglutely anyone with a lick of sense that she will never, ever, be able to pay off her debts.
Maybe this is just too much a common sense point of view, but here goes. Shouldn’t someone want credit enough to figure out how to get it on their own? If someone is incapable of finding the best rate for credit and applying for it, maybe we don’t want that person racking up a lot of debt…
I think credit card companies should not be able to solicit through the mail. I think there should be stricter guidelines for approving credit.
Some of my more conservative friends and I sometimes have friendly discussion on government regulation. I realize they are not fond of it. But here goes. In my opinion, capitalism and commercialism have gone way out of control. The lack of regulation has brought in a tide of unchecked greed and irresponsibility.
Please, Mr. President. I know you are busy, but could you think about moving this item up on your to do list?
Thank-you very much.
Until next week,