Published April 1970 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Credit Cards-Mixed Blessing For Consumers At no time in our history have more goods been available to the American consumer; and according to the U.S. Department of Labor, at no time in our history have American depended more heavily on credit cards to purchase these goods. Credit cards, however, have proved themselves to be a mixed blessing for the consumer-a valuable asset when used in a responsible fashion, but a major economic liability when used recklessly. The incidents where credit cards have led to bankruptcy for consumers have increased sharply since 1965; and this increase has almost directly paralleled the incidents where firms have sent unsolicited credit cards responsible. The 682 bankrupt consumers were not wealthy. Their average earnings amounted to just $70 a week, and their average debts totaled $4,200 at the time they received the unwanted credit cards. Nationally, according to the Federal Reserve Board, Americans now owe approximately $13 billion on credit cards-almost double what they owed in 1967. The Federal Reserve Board also notes that many credit firms have been sending out at least some of their cards unsolicited. A two-fold problem befalls a consumer who receives an unsolicited credit card-he must either destroy it, or accept the responsibility for goods charged with it. Destroying the unwanted card is extremely important, since many of the 1.5 million credit cards lost or stolen annually are those that have been carelessly tossed in the trash by the unwary consumer. The value of goods charged on lost or stolen cards jumped from $20 million in 1966 to over $100 million last year. Obviously, the government must provide the consumer with proper protection from the burdens imposed by unsolicited credit cards. Thus, the Senate recently passed legislation that prohibits the issuance of unsolicited credit cards, and reduces consumer's liability for items charged on lost or stolen cards. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for further action.
APR 22 1970