Illinois State Treasurer speaks at Illini Union

By Hannah Schnettgoecke

Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias spoke in the Pine Lounge of the Illini Union on Sept. 9 about his proposed legislation to protect University students from credit card soliciting.

In his brief speech, Giannoulias expressed his concern about credit card companies that prey on college students by offering free gifts.

“It’s a dangerous equation,” Giannoulias said. “Easy credit plus young, impulsive students equal big financial trouble on our campuses.”

The proposed legislation will aim to protect students from out-of-control marketing and unfair practices by the credit card industry. Card issuers will not be able to offer gifts when marketing credit cards on campus.

Also, colleges and universities will be prohibited from selling student names and personal information to credit card lenders.

Lastly, if credit cards are being marketed and advertised to undergraduate students, the university must make financial literacy courses available to students.

Giannoulias said the University has already voluntarily banned credit card giveaways on campus. Unfortunately, credit card marketers have found ways around the ban. Joanna Zahn, senior in Business, learned this fact the hard way.

As a freshman, Zahn said she received a coupon for a free sandwich at an off-campus location. She and some friends made the long bus trip to the restaurant only to find out they had to sign up for a credit card in order to receive the coupon. They decided to “trick the company” by filling out their names but giving fake information on the rest of the application. Zahn never received or activated the card, but when she checked her credit report the next year, the card showed up as an open account. She then had to file a dispute and call the credit card company to close it.

Zahn said she hopes that Giannoulias’ proposed legislation will impose tougher penalties and a stricter regulation on credit card soliciting on campus.

“Don’t get suckered into the free food,” Zahn warns students.

She suggests finding one of the many trustworthy credit card companies that does not try to trick students.

“Talk to your parents and really go about it as an educated person,” Zahn said.

Giannoulias emphasized that young people need to be educated and informed consumers.

“It’s hard for students to believe, but a $10 T-shirt and a $4 sandwich can cause financial hardship for years and years to come,” Giannoulias said.