Sunday, March 9, 2008

Confessions of a Credit-Card Pusher

One student's story of how he was recruited to peddle credit cards on campus and the troubles he found himself.

It all started as a way to make some quick cash. In 2002, at the beginning of his freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh, Ryan Rhoades needed some extra spending money. So when his friend told him about an Internet ad offering Pitt students a way to make some cash in a couple of hours, he didn't hesitate. Rhoades rounded up some of his buddies and headed over to the designated classroom at the student union.

What he saw in that room offers a view of how creative credit-card companies have become in marketing their services to college students.

An enthusiastic man who identified himself as a representative of Citibank (C) welcomed them and said they had the opportunity to make some money by signing up their fellow students for credit cards. The bounty for each completed application would be $5 to $10, depending on the kind of card. In retrospect, Rhoades feels like he and his fellow students were being recruited to become credit-card pushers. "That's exactly what it was," he says.

Salesmen at the Gates

Rhoades took the job and signed up roughly 30 students for cards. He regrets any trouble he caused other students from his actions. Still, his actions may have been most damaging to himself. He ended up with $13,000 worth of debt that he is now struggling to repay. "I hadn't learned anything about credit cards in high school, and I didn't know anything about them at the time," says Rhoades. "I was duped."

Politicians and college administrators are growing increasingly concerned about the damage that credit-card debt is causing students, and they're trying to crack down on some of the card companies' practices. They're limiting marketing on some campuses and trying to restrict the size of credit lines extended to students. Earlier this year, the state legislatures in Texas, Oklahoma, and New York moved to clamp down on credit-card marketing to college students (see, 9/4/07, "Majoring in Credit-Card Debt").

For more details of the story you may read it in here.

by Jessica Silver-Greenberg

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