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Banks: The New Loan Sharks & Extortionists of the 21st Century?

[Editor's Note: today's blog post is by guest author William Seebeck. During the 1980's, Bill and I worked together at Lexis-Nexis in Dayton, Ohio. Bill has a wealth of experience in online systems, banking, publishing, and public relations. Bill also blogs at Seebeck's View.]

By Bill Seebeck

Well, here it is the 21st of June. It's Father's Day.

Yet today, millions of credit card holders that have received notices from their banks since June 1st, know this is the beginning of a new cycle in which the percentage of funds due monthly on their accounts has doubled. Instead of having to pay 3% of their total amounts due, they will now have to pay 6% and for some of them at an interest rate upwards of 29%.

You know, I bet there are still some guys in prison doing time for loan-sharking in this country. What's a loan shark? That's someone who charged greater than a rate considered just by the society. That rate before the banks and Congress changed it used to be 23%. It was called the usury rate.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states that usury is a sin and frankly is so in every major Abrahamic religion. "...Lending money at interest give us the opportunity to exploit the passions or necessities of other men by compelling them to submit to ruinous conditions...[Usury has been defined] as the abuse of a certain superiority at the expense of another man's necessity... It is in itself unjust extortion, or robbery."

So, who are the loan sharks now? Who are the extortionists?

What's extortion? Findlaw states, "Most states define extortion as the gaining of property or money by almost any kind of force, or threat of (1) violence, (2) property damage, (3) harm to reputation, or (4) unfavorable government action. While usually viewed as a form of theft/larceny, extortion differs from robbery in that the threat in question does not pose an imminent physical danger to the victim..."

I think it is fair to say that demanding high monthly minimums at interest rates up to 29.99% can be viewed by the "card holder" as threatening. Failure to pay can result in harm to their reputations in the form of credit scores and possible default, and in this world, "no credit" can put a person and their family on the street in a nanosecond.

So, if you think that the banks are OK and that everything has changed, you are living in a world of dreams. Take a look around your neighborhoods and see how many empty stores there are and how many people are out of work. In part, it is because of what some banks did and what some banks continue to do.

What they are doing is squeezing, you, the public for their own benefit.

Definitely actions that are not in the interest of the public good.

Who are their monitors? Where are their monitors? How do they continue to get away with this stuff?

I'm upset by this, are you?

By the way, Happy Father's Day!

Copyright 2009 WBSeebeck. Reprinted with permission.


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Loan sharks in previous times, the long run looks hopeless, and many are contacting for bank to do more to help the most insecure in community. Some local authorities are very practical at establishing up bank up, but others could do much more

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