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On Our Radar

In this section called “On Our Radar,” Consumer Action shares thought-provoking and informative issues on a variety of topics. You can add your thoughts and comments.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The issues presented in “On Our Radar” and the comments of our guests do not necessarily state or reflect the views of Consumer Action.



Household debt in America
During a one-day conference on July 19, the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, presented a number of interesting panels on debt. At the event, The Debt Survey: Public Recognizes Debt as a Fast Growing Problem in U.S., was introduced.

Start Smart: Money Management for Teens
The latest issue of FDIC Consumer News, published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, contains a special free guide to help teens make good money decisions.

Top academics start credit/bankruptcy blog
Credit Slips is a new blog featuring a discussion on credit and bankruptcy, with participation from professor and author Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School, an expert on bankruptcy.

Charles Schwab Foundation’s 'Teens & Money Survey'
A survey examining issues surrounding Teens & Money released this spring by the Charles Schwab Foundation provides insight into the need for young people to learn the fundamental ABCs of money management.

Experian's new credit scores are available to consumers
The three national credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, announced earlier this year that they have developed a credit score model to compete with the current industry dominant FICO score from Fair Isaacs. The new scoring model, now available to consumers, uses an academic scoring model (A, B, C, etc.) as opposed to the FICO numbers-based model. The first to reach the consumer market, VantageScore from Experian, costs $5.95.

Can You Afford to Retire?
Many experts state that the baby boomer generation is headed for a shock as it hits retirement: many boomers will be long on life expectancy but short on savings. The two main strategies for funding retirement - lifetime pensions and 401(k)-style savings plans - are in serious trouble. In "Can You Afford to Retire?" Frontline correspondent Hedrick Smith investigates this looming financial crisis and the outlook for middle-class Americans.

Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances in 2004
Sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board, this triennial survey collects information concerning household financial characteristics and behavior. The survey is widely believed to be the best source of information about family finances in the United States. Data from this study inform a wide variety of economic policy decisions across the government, and they also serve as a basis for longer-term research on the economic state of the American family. The survey collects information from approximately 4,500 respondents. NORC conducted this survey for the fifth time in 2004.

Maxed Out: The Movie
If you liked the PBS Frontline investigation on credit cards, watch for a new documentary by James D. Scurlock called "Maxed Out," which takes viewers on a journey inside the American debt-style, where everything seems okay as long as the minimum monthly payment arrives on time. A "Super Size Me" for the credit card industry, the film made its debut this week at the South by Southwest Film Festival and has been the buzz among consumer advocates.

Credit card interchange fees
Interchange fees of about two percent are paid by merchants on all Visa and MasterCard credit or debit card transactions. Consumers, even those who pay with cash, pay more when they shop because interchange fees paid by merchants are passed on to all customers. Visa and MasterCard made record interchange fee income when gas prices spiked last year and more people resorted to credit cards to pay at the pump.

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