AG warns students about opening new credit accounts

By Chris Dickerson | Aug 18, 2015

CHARLESTON – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urges college students to be careful about protecting their finances and personal information when signing up for credit and debit cards.

Every year, credit and debit card providers flood students with offers to apply for cards. Thousands of students apply for and receive new cards every year after they get on campus.

“Paying with a credit or debit card is convenient and has become second nature to many consumers, however, with convenience comes great responsibility,” Morrisey said in a statement. “When you overuse a credit card, that debt can quickly mount, and this is a growing problem for young consumers.”

Morrisey issued this advice as part of his office’s second Back to School Consumer Protection Week.

He encourages students to carefully budget their finances and make sure they’re not charging things they cannot afford to pay off in a reasonable time frame. He also encouraged students to study these card offers to make sure they’re not signing up for more than they bargained for.

“We encourage students to read the fine print and remain cautious when using their cards,” Morrisey said. “It's also important to not simply sign up for a credit card because the company is offering you a free gift for enrolling.”

Students should research the bank or company offering the card to ensure it is reputable. Before enrolling, they should also make sure they understand the rates and fees associated with the card, including whether fees are imposed if no purchases are made.

Additionally, students should keep their credit card information secure to protect themselves from scammers. They should tear up any cards they stop using, be sure to close those unused accounts and shred any documents that contain their personal or financial information.

“Young consumers should spend the next few years enjoying college and focusing on their education,” Morrisey said. “Students should remain cautious when using their cards so they do not have to worry about credit card debt or identity theft the rest of their lives.”

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