Latest Update from AARP on Credit Card Debt

How many credit cards do you have?”

This question was recently part of a poll posted in the April 2012 AARP Bulletin, along with the type of credit card debt that buyers had. The responses came from two groups: 18 to 49 year olds and 50+ year olds. The survey found:

  • 34% of younger Americans and 16% of older Americans have none
  • 22% vs. 18% have one
  • 28% vs. 39% have two or three
  • 11% vs. 16% have four or five

Additionally, purchases for these same two groups were:

  • 55% of younger Americans and 68% of older Americans used their credit cards for travel
  • 62% vs. 72% used them for clothing
  • 28% vs. 39% used them for home maintenance
  • 40% vs. 54% used them for car maintenance
  • 60% vs. 56% used them for groceries
  • 38% vs. 44% used them for health care

In the same AARP Bulletin an article, “Watchdog Aims to Control Credit Card Sharks,” pointed out that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing to bring credit-reporting bureaus and debt collection agencies under its purview. The CFPB is the federal watchdog established to:

…make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans — whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.

Since the credit bureaus monitor your bill paying habits and currently more than 30 million Americans are “targets” of collection agencies, the CFPB wants to bring these two groups under its supervision by July.

Additionally, the CFPB is concerned about elder financial abuse from financial advisers who solicit older Americans for investment and retirement planning with “false and deceptive claims.”