With uncanny timing and foresight to a rapidly growing national problem, “Maxed Out” explores the dangers of consumer credit expansion and default in the United States. In what would be the canary in the coal mine that we all chose to ignore, numerous warnings were raised about consumer lending practices gone awry. Yet, it would still be two years before the total ramifications of what we, as a consumer nation, had allowed ourselves to get into. The key points of this documentary are;
Lenders want us to default– Lenders was us to default in order to charge a host of fees onto our accounts. Late fees, raising your interest rates, past balance fees, lenders have developed a host of charges designed to continue to keep us within their grasp and unable to pay their outrageous fees for using their credit.
Aggressive tactics- For those who fall behind on their payments they can expect unrelenting pressure from the debt collectors. The cost of entry into the sub prime collection business is minuscule, which allows for those of less than scrupulous methods to enter into the business. Once in business, they can buy up debt from the lenders, and then they can legally hound us in an effort to collect their fees. For the targets of the debt collectors, they can expect unrelenting phone calls, threatening letters, phone calls to friends and family and being taken to court.
Predatory methods- No one willingly takes on a predatory loan. Preying on the American people, lenders have so confused the borrowing public that it is easy not to understand what one is getting into. Using small print, lengthy agreements, and confusing language and agreements, borrowers are unable to understand what they have gotten themselves into and how difficult it is to get out of.
The ramifications- What are the end results of all this easy credit going in and the difficulty of getting out the credit trap? The producers of “Maxed Out” interview families who have lost their homes, jobs, and some whose loved ones, inundated with credit card debt and unable to free themselves from the debtor morass, have committed suicide.
“Maxed Out” is a chilling examination of how horribly wrong consumer lending has become in the United States. Set two years before the economic collapse of 2008, it was a warning to America that was ignored and shelved (it grossed only $58,000.00). American’s, like myself, were educated, hardworking and making good money. What could possibly go wrong?