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Credit card company order to pay millions for deceptive practices

There are many ways for consumers to get themselves into hot water financially. Two of the most common methods are medical expenses and credit card debt. While these two are often discussed separately, medical bills and credit card debt often go together. In fact, some credit card companies are now offering "medical credit cards," which some consumer advocates argue are causing more harm than they are helping at the intersection between credit card debt and medical debt.

At first blush a medical credit card may seem like a good idea. It may be even be pitched as a way for the consumer to stretch out payments over a longer period of time. Unfortunately, these medical credit cards, like traditional credit cards, often have hidden costs. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently announced that GE Capital Retail Bank, one of the largest companies in the medical credit card trade, has been ordered to refund customers more than $34 million for deceptive practices.

While other similar credit cards are available, the CareCredit medical credit card is one of the largest in the industry. The card is currently offered at about 175,000 offices nationwide including doctor, dentist, vision and veterinary offices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said over a million patients who accrued medical debt with the card may be eligible for reimbursement. The Bureau's order found that the company engaged in activity intended to confuse consumers about the nature of deferred-interest products.

When someone is facing an unexpected medical condition, in addition to financial challenges, it is easy for unscrupulous lenders to take advantage. When this happens it is vital to learn about available options. From fighting deceptive and harmful consumer practices head on to establishing a game plan for a fresh financial start, getting the right information is the first step to regaining control and working towards financial freedom.

Source: NY Times, "A Medical Credit Card Has Surprising Costs," Ann Carrns, Dec. 10, 2013

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Hixson, TN 37343

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