There’s a good documentary out there, made in 2006 and released nationally in 2007. It’s called “Maxed Out”, and it has some poignant and fitting commentary about credit card companies, debt, and how many Americans, from first-year college students to widowed retirees, are affected by predatory lending practices.
A main thread throughout the documentary is an interview with Elizabeth Warren, Harvard Law School professor and head of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to investigate the US bank bailout (formally known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program). Ms. Warren was the original person to suggest the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which President Obama and Congress are currently considering. Ms. Warren has made many media appearances since the economic crisis began, including a recent appearance on The Daily Show on January 26th, 2010 (view interview).
We would all like to hope that current legislation like the CARD Act will prevent some of the abusive and harmful credit industry practices of years past. But the fact of the matter is that being vigilant is and always will be the best protection, because the credit industry has been known to be creative – even slippery; at the end of the day, it is a for-profit industry, after all. This documentary is very useful in this sense: as both a learning opportunity and as a cautionary tale. If you get a chance, check it out. I rented it from NetFlix, but it’s possible that your local video store would have it too.
To watch clips from the documentary, check out: