Hand in hand

The credit card is, no doubt, one of the banks’ main sources of profit. This is proved by their insistence on always making new and «tempting» offers. Of course, it’s a law that when one of the two contractors makes a big profit, the other one suffers an unbearable loss. A new element has been added to this uneven relationship between banks and their customers. According to a revealing survey by Ta Nea daily, 6.6 million euros of the total 6 billion turnover from credit cards last year was the result of fraud (at the expense of cardholders, of course). The sham usually involves fake cards, online credit card theft and similar schemes. Every year, the police report more than 10,000 charges for excess bills, but these make up about 20 percent of all cases as the victims tend to report abnormal charges to the authorities only when extra charges are over 3,000 euros. Interestingly, banks are dealing with only 1,000 outstanding charges, most likely because clients have little hope that credit institutions will vindicate their demands. (It should be noted that banks justify their high credit card interest rates as a means of compensating losses from bad payers.) Another local particularity is that most consumers do not use their card to facilitate their purchases, paying off the amount at the end of each month, but rather see it as an eternal consumer loan – keeping their debt to a credit limit of 1 or 2 million drachmas (2,934-5,869 euros) depending on the card. In this way, however, they end up paying about 400,000 drachmas (1,174 euros) in interest for that 2 million while a consumer loan of the same amount would only cost them about half that amount. It seems that when it comes to monetary exchange, the existence of a cunning moneygrubber always presupposes the existence of a naive and thoughtless partner.