The answer to the above question, shockingly, is in the credit-card statements mailed each month to Boston-area college students. According to our estimate, college students in and around the city carry $533 million in credit-card debt.
According to Sallie Mae, 84 percent of college students have at least one credit card, and the average debt for undergraduates is over $3,100. One in five college graduates leave school with over $7,000 in debt.
Unfortunately, many college students don’t understand the importance of responsible credit card and debt management. They are lured in by giveaways and other gimmicks, and in many cases make only minimum payments which means they rack up big interest payments over time. And in many cases, students fail to make payments, bringing in debt collectors and black marks on their credit ratings. They don’t realize that over time, those poor decisions now can follow them when they pursue jobs or consider buying a car or house.
In an effort to make sure college students understand what’s at stake and how to better handle credit cards, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation has created Project Credit Smarts. In this program, our Office and our partners go to college campuses and speak directly to students about the pitfalls and dangers of credit cards, and about how to responsibly manage their debt.
We are officially kicking off Project Credit Smarts with an event tomorrow at Roxbury Community College, but have already held some seminars on campuses in the area. By the end of the fall, we expect to have visited 10 or more campuses, and talked to more than 1,000 students. Along with our academic partners, we have nine business and policy partners who are supporting our efforts, creating a real team of collaborators to tackle this issue.
I’ll be talking more about Project Credit Smarts throughout the fall. You can see our PowerPoint presentation by clicking here, and we hope you share it with someone who would benefit from some guidance on this issue.
How to Combat Illegal Robocalls posted on Jul 25
Robocalls have become an all-too-common nuisance for consumers. Robocalls are unsolicited, pre-recorded phone calls, often scams, which are made to consumers without their permission, as opposed to calls solicited by the consumer, such as those from pharmacies and childrens’ schools. Robocalls are illegal in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 159C. While consumers can, and should, sign-up -for both the state and national Do-Not-Call lists, unfortunately this does not always stop many unscrupulous solicitors and scammers from making these calls.
Summary of the 2015 Consumer Federation of America Annual Consumer Complaint Survey posted on Jul 22
The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators recently released the results of the 2015 Consumer Complaint Survey. This report is based on consumer information, complaints, and suggestions for increased consumer protections from 33 consumer agencies in 21 states.
Do-Not-Call Consumer & Solicitor Responsibilities posted on Jul 20
The Massachusetts Do-Not-Call Registry allows consumers to stop receiving certain telephone solicitations simply by signing-up and providing their telephone number. Established in 2003, the law requires telephone solicitors, list-brokers, and telemarketers to register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, subscribe to the Do-Not-Call Registry, and remove registered telephone numbers of consumers from their call lists.