Debtor’s Revolt: But at What Cost?
Many may be familiar with the YouTube video posted by Ann Minch, a California woman that grew enraged after Bank of America raised her credit card’s interest rate to 30% after she had been a loyal customer for years. The Huffington Post recently covered Ann’s storing in their article Debtor’s Revolt: Woman Refuses to Pay Off Bank of America Credit Card. Unfortunately, these situations are all too common. You can see the video here:
It seems so simple. The woman is basically saying I am going to penalize you, Bank of America for raising my interest rate again. But is she really making things more difficult for Bank of America, or for herself in the long term? She knows she is going to get numerous calls from debt collectors, but does she realize there will be a permanent judgment against her if she does not pay the debt? And does she realize that although she does not have a job right now, they could garnish future wages and/or any and all bank accounts she will will have in her possession now and in the future?
Plus, if you are in default with one credit card, expect to see the interest rate rise on the others. They are within their rights to do this. What is starting out as a mild snowball could turn into an avalanche and literally ruin her credit and her finances for many, many years to come.
So what should she do?
1) Write an open letter to her State Representative and cc the executives at Bank of America. Be belligerent and persistent with the State Rep; debt collection practices this is a huge issue currently being discussed in Washington DC.
2) Take a look at the agreement with Bank of America to find out if there is an arbitration provision provided. She may be entitled to a free dispute which will require Bank of America to explain why they raised her interest rate.
3) Once she moved to the new bank with her savings, she should ask the new bank if they are willing to open a credit card for her at a lower interest rate and to transfer the entire balance over. Then, she can close the Bank of America card and avoid debt harassment permanently.
4) Once this pops up on her credit report (and it will) she needs to contact the credit reporting boards at Trans Union, Equifax and Experian regularly and report that the issue is being disputed because Bank of America raised the interest rate without cause. if it is being disputed, it cannot affect her credit.
I recognize that the woman is upset and I am not saying she does not have reason to be, but she is handling this entirely the wrong way. At CreditLaw.com, we’ve helped many consumers protect their rights, stop collection calls and address their debt using fair debt collection practices. While in the short term it may feel better to exercise one’s frustration by starting a “debtor’s revolt,” but sacrificing one’s financial future simply to make a point does not make sense. She needs to strategize and move forward.
Craig Thor Kimmel
1-800 NOT FAIR