LAUREL, Md. – Tower Federal Credit Union is warning young members about the potential slippery slope of credit card use. The "Minimum Payment=Maximum Pain" campaign is an educational program that drives home the harsh fact that accepting seductive invitations to pay only a minimum each month instead of reducing or eliminating the borrowing can lead to overwhelming debt. "The aggressive promotion by some credit card companies has prompted us to speak out against predatory lending practices and to take an active role in advancing financial literacy among teens and twenty-something men and women," said Tower FCU President/CEO Martin M. Breland. "Too many students are carrying larger and larger balances and I find the statistics alarming." The Tower FCU campaign targets specific warnings at three groups college students including college-bound high school seniors; college seniors and recent graduates beginning their first real jobs; and young people in the early stages of their careers, marriages and families. "These kids are so smart about so many things, yet so uninformed about money management," said Tower FCU Vice President Marketing Cynthia Scott. "And they don't know what they don't know. One reason is credit card companies aren't disclosing the cruelest trap of them all-what happens if you only make the minimum payment." According to recent reports, college campuses have always been considered prime credit card territory with issuers lining campus breezeways with tables offering enticements such as T-Shirts and sunglasses during the first few weeks of the semester. "Credit cards ought to come stamped with a flashing neon caution 'Warning- May be hazardous to your wealth'", said Scott. Scott hopes the campaign does just that. The print collateral highlights blunt reflections of real-life traumas to drive the point home. One Tower FCU brochure asks "How long does it take to pay off a credit card balance of $2,000?" The answer: "24 years too long." The brochure then goes into detail explaining how minimum payments lead to maximum financial pain. Another brochure reads "Congratulations. As a college graduate, you're entitled to a crushing credit card debt." In addition to statement inserts, teller counter cards and brochures are prominently displayed in all Tower FCU branches. "If young people are tuning out their parents, maybe they'll listen to us because we're a respected financial institution," said Scott. "If we can keep even a few kids from charging in haste and repenting at leisure, this campaign will have been worth the effort." [email protected]

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