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A University of Alabama Law School Clinical Program funded in part by West Alabama Regional Commission

Advance Health Care Decisions

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Credit Cards
Identity Theft

Consumer Issues: Credit Cards

Consumer law can be intimidating because of its scope as well as its complexity. Law and practice related to credit cards alone constitute a large topic. If you have a specific problem or concern you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in this area of law. For additional general information there are resources included at the end of this article.

Credit Cards – Rights and Responsibilities

  1. Selecting a card
  2. Using cards wisely
  3. Billing errors
  4. Collections
  5. Resources

The federal Consumer Credit Protection Act was passed in the early 60s and has been amended several times since. Under the Act, a lender cannot legally refuse to extend credit to an applicant merely because (s)he is over a certain age. In the current economic situation, with high borrowing rates and tight credit, other excuses than age may make cards with good terms hard to find. For many of today's seniors, however, the problem may not be too little credit but too much.

Seniors Bombarded by Solicitations Over three billion credit card solicitations are mailed out annually, many millions of them to older consumers. Solicitations always offer some enticement: a low interest rate, no annual fee, or free credit toward purchase of a product or service. The bad news is often buried somewhere in small print: perhaps there is a high interest rate that kicks in after the short-term introductory offer, or no grace period (so charges accrue interest from the day they are posted), or an introductory rate that applies only to certain charges. (Having a lot of "offers" flying around can also increase the risk of being a victim of Identify Theft. To cut down on unsolicited offers, call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or go to www.optoutprescreen.com.)

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