TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: 'Frontline' Files an Eye-Opening Credit Report

'Frontline' Files an Eye-Opening Credit Report

Monty Solomon (
Thu, 25 Nov 2004 01:23:41 -0500


By Joanna Weiss, Globe Staff | November 22, 2004

All you really need to know about the credit card industry can be
summed up in the look on Ed Yingling's face as he sits across from
reporter Lowell Bergman in this week's " Frontline " episode.
Yingling is the top lobbyist for the banking industry and, more
specifically, the flak catcher, sent out to answer every query
assembled by the research arms of PBS and The New York Times.

And when Bergman asks why no major credit card companies will talk to
him, Yingling looks knowingly, almost apologetically wry. "They pay us
dues," he says, "to handle these kinds of sometimes-difficult

Yes, it's pretty clear that if "Frontline" sets out to examine the $30
billion credit card industry, the banks aren't going to be the good
guys. And "Secret History of the Credit Card," the hourlong show that
airs tomorrow at 9 p.m. on WGBH-TV (Channel 2), is a damning report
about an industry that preys on consumer naivete and, perhaps just as
disturbing, the consumers who run willingly into its traps.

Just in time for the holiday spending season, "Frontline" does us the
service of finally reading the fine print on those long, eye-numbing
credit card contracts, and what's inside isn't pleasant: fees that
generate increasing amounts of revenue, loan rates that can quickly
climb as high as 30 percent and can be changed at any time, even if,
for example, you're late paying an unrelated bill. The result is a
teetering financial crisis: The average American family carries $7,500
in credit card debt.


Secret History of the Credit Card

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