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CNN: Ex-Bankers on Pushing Customers to Rack Up Debt

September 26, 2008

AFFIL appeared in this article by Deborah Feyerick on September 26, 2008

As an account manager for credit card giant MBNA, Cate Colombo spent four years speaking to customers, answering questions about interest rates and waiving late fees.

Kathy Ellingwood did the same.  She lasted only a year and a half before quitting this summer.

The women worked in different departments at the sprawling customer call center in Belfast, Maine, yet they share similar stories about aggressive selling tactics they claim they were told to use to push cash advances, sometimes getting customers to max out their credit cards…

Americans for Fairness in Lending, which put CNN in touch with Colombo and Ellingwood, wants deceptive credit card practices included in the financial bailout legislation that is now before Congress.

Its director, Jim Campen, said, “We haven’t identified any illegal practices. What we’ve seen are practices that are highly unethical. It’s extraordinarily common.”

The two women say their conversations were monitored, and the more they sold, the bigger their salaries.

“If you didn’t do it, you got yanked off the phone,” Colombo said.

She said a manager once yelled, “You let your team down. You let the bank down. You let the stockholders down!”

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