In this age of credit card debt relief nightmares, when so very many Americans find themselves in the position of begging lenders for debt settlement negotiation just to avoid bankruptcy, it seems a tad silly that anyone would spend time worrying over what they can’t buy through card accounts, but lending banks have increasingly decided to impose odd and arguably unfair restrictions upon consumer purchases. While helping their clients through eventual debt relief by disallowing otherwise legal expenditures on gambling web sites or casino currency at least makes sense, the largest credit card debt companies are also have expanded the purchasing bans to cover such items as pornography and medical marijuana (currently legalized by more than a third of the United States ).
Representatives of the creditors insist that these sorts of strictures are fully within their corporate rights and, rather than enforcing their notions of morality upon the public, they’re just managing risks a bit more aggressively to counter the added chances of credit card debt default within the modern marketplace. However, trade professionals speaking for the various retail outlets point to the added difficulty for sales transactions and the likelihood that they’ll inevitably lead to added costs down the road. Also, consumer advocacy groups are worried that these unilateral demands are just part of a slippery slope. “Nobody wants the big credit card companies to start prescribing rules about what Americans can and can’t do,” asserts Jim Cowlishaw, President of Free Your Credit. “As long as what you’re buying isn’t against state or federal laws, the creditors shouldn’t be able to tell you what would be a good use of your money.”
While the extent to which the credit card companies choose to meddle in customer purchasing may differ greatly, Visa and MasterCard (and, to a lesser degree, American Express) do tend to follow one another when embracing policy changes regarding their lending practices, and, although American Express has thus far been the only institution to fully prohibit shopping for erotica over the internet, the others shall probably follow suit now that the gauntlet of consumer privacy has so profoundly been breached. “The ban on internet porn seems to me thoroughly indefensible,” said Cowlishaw. “Maybe you could make the argument that borrowing at a gambling casino in order to take out more chips would raise red flags as part of a risk assessment – and, with medical marijuana dispensaries, you could maybe understand why the credit card debt companies want no part of the state versus federal legal battle – but, with adult oriented materials, that’s such a personal matter.”
Of course, in a certain way, the new restrictions are undeniably aiding the central thrust of credit card debt relief: above all else, don’t borrow if you haven’t the money on hand to pay for the goods. On the other hand, as Cowlishaw notes, the easy availability of cash advances offered by most of the modern banks just underlines the hypocrisy of the entire endeavor. Since ordinary folks can just plug their card into an Automated Teller Machine and take out the necessary funds to continue with their purchase as originally desired, eliminating direct borrowing privileges from certain types of goods and services will do nothing more than increase the inconvenience of the house bound and facilitate greater fees.