Solicitation bill mitigates problem but is no solution

As college students, we’re well aware that credit card companies target us. Since arriving on campus, we’ve been bombarded time and time again by credit card companies soliciting our information. We’ve seen all the scams and have been hassled more than once with a tempting “Get a free sandwich!” followed by small print about how we have to hand over our personal information first.

You don’t have to tell us twice that it’s not a good idea to hand over our checking account number. We’ve learned. Considering how vulnerable and naive some students are when they come to college, and especially given the increasing size of the freshman class on our campus, it’s important to realize that not everybody knows the dos and don’ts of credit cards and banking.

Of course, the credit card companies, hassling us or not, are not solely responsible for college students’ credit card debt. The minute we left home, taking some responsibility for how we handle our money and credit cards became a necessity.

Luckily, though, there may be an end to some tactics that credit card companies use to target college students. Wednesday afternoon, Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias was at the Union collecting signatures for a petition in support of responsible credit card marketing.

Giannoulias has proposed legislation that would restrict credit card marketing on all Illinois campuses.

It’s encouraging to see such a distant public official, who could easily look the other way when it comes to college students dealing with credit cards, actually visit campus, approach students and talk about credit card solicitations. If we’re in even more debt than student loans already create, the state will be no better off than right now. More money won’t filter into our economy if we’re all still paying off reckless shopping sprees.

It is wrong for credit card companies to prey on college students – students who have never been on their own and may not know how to deal with their finances.

Some of us took consumer economics in high school, but some of us have not. Some of our parents taught us how to use a checkbook, and some of our parents did not.

While this bill is a step to protect students from being hassled by credit card companies, we suggest the state be more proactive in teaching the pitfalls of irresponsible credit use.

Awareness can go a long way, maybe even further than legislation.

Then, if this bill doesn’t pass or if credit card companies find other ways to go about soliciting our information, students will be informed and prepared to make the right decisions for themselves and to walk away from tempting offers that might not be in their best interest.