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-- Posted: Sept. 26, 2000

Dorothy Rosen -- The Dollar Diva Ask the Dollar Diva

How do I deal with credit card company dirty tricks?

Dear Dollar Diva,
What recourse do consumers have since many credit card issuers have consolidated; most issuers are unscrupulous about raising rates, adding fees, etc.; and many working people need credit cards and do not have the money to pay them off?


Do credit card companies employ sleazy, predatory tactics to pick consumers' pockets? You bet. Should you send letters to your representative in Congress demanding protection from the unfair business practices that rob you blind? You bet. Should you sic your prepaid legal service on your credit card company every time it pulls a fast one? Amen. Consumers are mad, and as Bankrate.com reports in a recent story, "They're not going to take it any more: Credit card customers fight back."

But the Diva reminds you that most working people are grown-ups. And part of being a grown-up is taking charge of one's financial life. The average consumer can't control his credit card company's behavior, but he can control his own. If he's carrying high-interest credit card debt and not doing everything possible to get rid of it, he's a fool.

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Dump that debt

Most people who get sucked in by easy credit are not fools; once they realize how much it's costing them, they want out. If you're ready to dump high-interest debt, the Diva offers the following suggestions to get you started:

What to do

How to do it

Helpful links

The ubiquitous consumer

The Diva has a word of advice for the ubiquitous consumer. Stop wearing the consumer badge as if it were a Purple Heart. When the consumer component of a person's identity is magnified, shopping takes on the role of a worthy pastime; it becomes a duty to consume.

The Diva wishes to set the record straight: Consuming is easy and there's no great glory in it. You already know this if you have a house full of toys and clothes, and you're not feeling really joyful. Joy comes from doing hard things such as producing, creating, building, fixing and nurturing. Maybe it's time for the inveterate consumer to change his spending habits and start being happy.

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