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Maxed Out on Credit Cards

June 8th, 2008 at 02:30 pm



As I was researching a story on aggressive credit card marketing tactics for a story I was writing at work, I came across mention of a James Scurlock film called Maxed Out. The independent documentary was filmed in 2007 as a result of a lawsuit the Ohio state attorney general brought against Citibank and a sandwich shop which got students on college campuses to sign up for credit cards by enticing them with free food. The suit was dropped against the sandwich chain in exchange for their cooperation in making the film.

I'll be watching the Netflix movie tonight.

Credit card marketing on college campuses was never something that was done when I attended school, but it apparently became a nearly universal practice not long after I graduated. Nearly every major university developed "affinity" relationships with credit issuers, a partnership in which the credit card companies paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to budget-strapped schools in exchange for exclusive rights to market to college students.

The schools provided credit issuers with students' contact information, disregarding students' privacy rights. I wonder what most parents would think of this. It's not something that comes up when you're getting the campus tour.

6 Responses to “Maxed Out on Credit Cards”

  1. Dido Says:

    "Maxed Out" sounds interesting--it's on Netflix's "Watch Instantly" list, so maybe I'll join you in watching it today. I've refrained up until now because I assumed it overlapped a lot with "The Secret History of the Credit Card," produced by Frontline a couple of years ago. I use the latter in my "Money & Happiness" class and the students find it eye-opening. It sounds like "Maxed Out" will be even more relevant to them!

    My current Netflix disc checked out is Bert Whiteheads "Why Smart People do Dumb Things with Money." Whitehead is a financial planner, the head of the Cambridge Financial Group, an association of fee-only planners who seem very "right on" with their advice (e.g. recommendations for index funds). I've read one of Whitehead's books and learned something, so I'll enjoy reviewing his ideas in the disk, too.

  2. Ima saver Says:

    How neat about the bluebirds. I love seeing them.

  3. Koppur Says:

    I will have to check that ou on Netflix (along with the 2 Dido mentioned). Right now we have Alpha Dod (with Justin Timberlake..yum) and The Fountain (with Hugh Jackman).

  4. Fern Says:

    I watched it last night. Very good.

    It’s a documentary with interviews and/or footage of: Elizabeth Warren (leader of the I Hate Credit Cards movement), Dave Ramsey, 2 mothers whose college-aged kids committed suicide over credit card debt, a luxury high-end realtor, a pawnbroker, bill collectors, legislators interviewing credit card lender VPs, various everyday people and the things that led to their bankruptcies and our own George W.

    Very much in the Michael Moore style, but this was the film that came about as the result of Ohio state attorney general lawsuit against citibank for using food to entice college kids to fill out CC applications.

  5. Sunshine Suz Says:

    Hi Fern,

    So, you took the plunge and decided to try out Netflix! From reading your blogs, I think you would also like "King Corn" and "Super Size Me".
    I get to wear Capri's to work and it's wonderful, easier to do laundry, and much cooler also.

  6. SicilyYoder Says:

    I like risotto

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