Jul. 19--LIMA -- These days, when it comes to money, most of the talk is about housing and gas. But for many of us, the biggest burden is on the plastic.
     State Treasurer Richard Cordray and about a dozen financial experts descended onto OSU-Lima's campus Friday to offer financial advice during the annual Women and Money Conference. At the top of the agenda for many of the almost 90 women in attendance was the overwhelming dependence on credit cards.
     "For many of them, they're just simply overextended. They get sick or someone gets hurt or everything just gets away from them. Next thing you know they're using credit cards as an income and that gets people in trouble," said Eddie Moore, one of Friday's workshop in instructors and a consultant with Trinity Debt Management.
     Friday's workshop is one of many efforts by the state to help people get a better handle on their finances, Cordray said. His office is also working with the state Supreme Court to initiate a mediation process for those at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure, and have set up Save The Dream task forces across the state to link state and local resources.
     But credit cards are at the top of Cordray's to-do list these days. He spent part of Friday gathering stories of questionable practices from the credit card companies. Those stories are being forwarded to the Federal Reserve Board, which is expected to act on proposed regulations that would put an end to certain credit card charges.
     "There is a lot of economic anxiety for people right now. I think they're feeling the weight of inflation this summer and they want to speak out about it," Cordray said.
     The proposed federal regulations would ban credit card companies from arbitrarily raising interest rates without informing the borrower. It would also give borrowers at least 21 days after receiving their bill to pay and end doublecycle billing in which lenders base one month's fees on two months of account activity.
     The Fed has 75 days in which to hear public comments before deciding whether to put the rules in effect. Cordray wants to make sure borrowers' voices are heard before the Aug. 4 deadline.
     "You know the credit card companies are going to comment and clearly, they're going to be against any changes. So it's important that we make sure the rest of us are heard," said Holly Hollingsworth, communications director for Cordray's office.
     You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.


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