Santa Cruz Indymedia :
Santa Cruz Indymedia

Commentary :: Government & Elections


With a record large number of bankruptcies being filed in the United States, it is time to address the root causes. Soon after the age of eighteen, many young adults begin to receive unsolicited credit card applications. These are offers of credit with absolutely no determination of the person's ability (or desire) to pay back the debt. Most high school curriculums do not contain courses on financial management and media advertising is quick to promote immediate gratification. Consequently, a large number of young adults start down the path of credit card reliance which ultimately leads to bankruptcy. The primary reason working adults use credit cards is because it is convenient and/or serves as a means of spending future earnings. But if one loses their job or is unable to work because of illness or injury, bankruptcy becomes the alternative.

Consumer credit counseling agencies have now become the last line of defense before someone files bankruptcy. Consumers are informed by these agencies that if they agree to funnel a "reduced" payment through them, all the debt enrolled in the program will be paid off in five years. This works well for those consumers who are less than ninety days delinquent as the creditors will "re-age" the account and soon begin reporting it "paid as agreed". However, the situation changes dramatically if the account is more than ninety days delinquent (or "charged off"). Once the credit card company charges off a delinquent debt, they can write it off their corporate tax returns so as to minimize the loss. The consumer, however, must contend with this serious delinquent mark on their credit report for at least seven years because no matter how much they funnel through the consumer credit counseling agency, the account will never be re-aged.

It is amazing how gruelling the process can be to qualify for a secured loan and yet how easy it is to obtain unsecured credit. The United States Congress needs to begin requiring credit card companies to utilize more stringent underwriting guidelines before granting consumers credit. The cost of living has grossly outpaced wages and salaries and thus created a greater dependency on credit. If there were more financial management courses required in schools and a rigorous process used by credit card companies, bankruptcy filings would diminish dramatically.

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