"Ready, Set ... CREDIT"

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A credit card can be a great financial tool, and at the same time a big responsibility. It can be more convenient to use and carry than cash, but, if not used carefully, can cause you to owe more than you can repay, damage your credit rating and create credit problems that can be difficult to undo, according to a new brochure titled, "Ready, Set...CREDIT," prepared by the Federal Trade Commission, along with American Express Company. The brochure, geared toward college-bound consumers who may be thinking about getting a credit card, offers some basic tips on qualifying for a credit card and how to establish a credit history.

The brochure also provides some important information that may help young adults decide whether they are ready for plastic, what to look for when selecting a company to do business with, and how to use their credit card responsibly. In addition, the brochure explains how federal laws protect you when using credit cards and how to handle billing errors and unauthorized charges.

Finally, the brochure offers the following consumer protection tips once a card is issued:

  • Sign the card immediately and keep the accompanying papers that contain important information in a safe place;
  • Never give out your credit card number or expiration date over the phone unless you know who you are dealing with;
  • Keep copies of sales slips and when you get your bill, compare your charges. Promptly report in writing any questionable charges to the card issuer; and
  • Never lend your card to anyone, not even a friend.

The FTC publishes consumer and business brochures on topics such as: automobiles, credit, health & fitness, investments and telemarketing. You can access the FTC's ConsumerLine at: http://www.ftc.gov on the Internet. Consumers also may contact the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261.

You may also visit American Express Company on the Internet at: http://www.americanexpress.com

Copies of the brochure, "Ready, Set...CREDIT," are available from the FTC's Public Reference at the above address. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. News releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov

Brenda A. Mack

Office of Public Affairs

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