College students want to rein in “out-of-control” unfair credit card marketing.
UW-Madison Freshman Nicholas Lillios says students are coerced into signing up for a credit card with free stuff, like T-shirts and pizza. And then they're trapped.
“They frankly didn't care that they were signing up for a credit card. They didn't really understand what they were signing up for. They didn't look at the contracts. And all they really cared about was getting lunch for that day. And that's the issue here. Students are signing up for credit cards because they're lured in with these free incentives, these free gifts.”
Fed up with the unscrupulous marketing practices, Lillios is working with WISPIRG — a public interest group — to urge college administrations to ban the practice. Also they want to ban the selling or sharing of student lists; and they encourage increased financial education and responsibility. ( Photo shows a counter campaign — educating students on credit card marketing schemes .)
UW-Madison Student Financial Services Director Susan Fischer advises students to be smart consumers.
“Initially having a credit card is not a bad thing. It could be a good thing for your credit report but it can turn sour very, very quickly. So again, students need to warn students that your credit score can get screwed up for years. It'll have an impact when you try to buy a car, when you try to buy a house, when you try to do anything.”
Darcy Luoma with Senator Herb Kohl 's office, says in the 2005-'06 school year, a Wisconsin graduate in debt owed an average of almost $20,000, with an average credit card debt of close to $2,500.
“And upon graduation students have to pay for housing, healthcare, food, and student loans that have acquired during school. And a credit card payment should not be additional financial burden on top of those payments.”
Luoma says Senator Kohl has recognized the dangers of credit card marketing to students on campuses and has introduced the Student Credit Card Protection Act, which helps to protect students from these predatory practices.
Over 1500 students at 40 colleges in 14 states including UW Madison were surveyed by WISPIRG and USPIRG.