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SPOTLIGHT
Credit card debacle
Credit cards are regarded as a source of supplemental income, but they should be viewed as a pact with the devil.
Out of the red and into the black

Spotlight: Howard Dvorkin

Howard Dvorkin went from CPA to credit counseling service pioneer after experiencing firsthand the traps of the conventional American lifestyle.

At a glance

A job transfer from Washington, D.C., to Palm Beach kicked off a seemingly innocuous chain of events: He got married, bought a house and used his credit cards for convenience. Charging everything from furniture to groceries, he ran up a monthly tab of $3,000 to $4,000 in credit card bills. Dvorkin realized credit card use was addictive and spent six months hunkered down in the library researching consumer debt trends and looked for help that was available to debtors. Finally, he came to the conclusion that a lot of people were getting into trouble, but there was little help available -- the only debt-counseling available in south Florida had a three-month waiting list.

Dvorkin designed an innovative business model that enabled him to help people immediately over the phone, an idea the industry widely embraced. Since then he's counseled 40,000 to 50,000 people personally. Now he has close to 200 trained counselors working for him, freeing up some of his time for public outreach initiatives to educate consumers about personal finance.

He shares his perspective on the state of the consumer debt situation with Bankrate.

Consumer debt is skyrocketing, bankruptcies are up: How bad is the consumer debt situation?

Debt has been skyrocketing and bankruptcies have been increasing: That's nothing new. The problem now is that people are getting squeezed between mortgage rate adjustments and rising prices.

-- Posted: Feb. 25, 2008
 
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