By Pam Donohue
Special to the Herald
Call me paranoid, but after all the phony calls and emails I have been receiving lately, I am beginning to feel that everyone is out there trying to steal what they can from me!
At least once a month, I receive what the bank calls “phish” emails telling me that my account has been compromised and I need to click of a link to verify my personal information. This email doesn’t have my bank’s logo or address me by name. The email address is simply the name of the bank or from a person, i.e. name @ , and in the TO: line, it says “undisclosed recipients.” I even received one from a “bank” I have never heard of! It was from TCF Bank, and it claimed that there were several failed attempts to log in to my accounts. If that were the case, why was the email sent to “undisclosed recipients”? Once you click on the link they provide, the damage is done and you cannot correct it.
Now I have encountered a new one. I received a credit card offer in the mail last week from Fortiva Credit Card in the amount of $700 to be doubled in nine months if I use my card monthly and make at least the monthly payment on time. If I were younger and trying to establish credit, I might consider the offer. But hold on! I’m not young by a long shot, so I decided to check the disclosure statement that they enclosed. They start out with 36 percent APR! I don’t know about anyone else, but reading this made the word “usury” pop into my head. Reading on, I discovered that there was a “small” annual fee of $175, but it is only for the first year. After that, it is $49 annually. In addition, we also have an Account Maintenance fee that is $150 annually, but they only bill you $12.50 a month for this. They also will not bill you for this during the first 12 months the account is open. (I guess they think they have taken enough of your money during the first year.) Now, there are other miscellaneous fees. If you transfer a balance, you will pay the same interest of 36 percent, but the transfer fee is an additional one -time charge of 3 percent of each transfer. There isn’t a higher rate of interest for cash advances, but a $5 or 5 percent for each advance (whichever is greater).
I receive several pre-approved credit card offers weekly from various sources, but I am at the stage of my life where I am not interested in more credit cards or debts. I did, however, pull some of the usual offers out of the recycle bin and look at the disclosure statements included with them. Merrick Bank offers an APR of 28.95 percent for a credit line of $500 to be doubled to $1,000 after only seven months. The annual fee is $48 billed $4 monthly. The set-up fee is $75 with an fee of $12 for each additional card issued. Cash advances are $10 or 4 percent, whichever is greater.
Another offer I received was from Credit One. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read 20.40 percent APR and I can even choose a Card Design that “fits my style.” The other fees are slightly less than quoted by Merrick Bank.
I knew interest rates on credit loans were on the rise, but I had no idea that there was such a discrepancy between cards. Let this be a lesson to us all: do your research before you commit to a credit card or a “quick” loan, and always read those disclosure statements!