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Who do you trust more: the police or your credit card company?

Connie Prater

A new national survey of America’s diverse African-American community released today posed an interesting question about trust. When asked about the institutions they trust more, respondents ranked credit card companies the least trustworthy.

In “Black America Today,” credit card issuers ranked below the police (you know, the folks who pull African-Americans over for “driving while black”), the government (which has yet to acknowledge slavery’s impact on the country and grant reparations) and the media (often accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes in advertising, television programming and news coverage).

Why the mistrust?
That’s pretty damning, but a recent study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston about credit card redlining may explain some of the mistrust out there. That study found that people living in black neighborhoods across the country were less likely to be issued credit cards than those living in white neighborhoods — even if they had the same credit histories.

The “Black America Today” poll found the education system and black media outlets had the highest trust level among African-Americans with about 30 percent expressing confidence these institutions “treat you and your family fairly.”

The health care system and banks and financial institutions tied for second place in the trust arena, with 24 percent saying they trust these entities. It’s interesting to note that banks are the primary issuers of credit cards, but the respondents singled “credit card companies” out as the objects of distrust.

The police, government and mainstream media were trusted by 12 percent to 16 percent of the respondents. Coming in dead last at 8 percent were the credit card companies.

Radio One, a national black radio and media corporation, sponsored the survey, which was conducted by respected research group Yankelovich. The survey included 3,400 African-Americans between the ages of 13 and 74 who were contacted via telephone as well as Internet interviews in November 2007.

Diverse group
The wide-ranging poll covered a number of topics affecting African-American life and is touted as groundbreaking in that it doesn’t treat all African-Americans the same. Eleven different subgroups are identified based on lifestyle, age, religion, socio-economic status and ethnic identity.

Other interesting findings regarding money and finance: About half of the respondents say banks and other financial institutions don’t understand their needs. An overwhelming majority (72 percent) said they want to learn more about how to invest money. Only three out of 10 people said they felt financially secure. Nearly half (53 percent) of those surveyed said money was the biggest cause of stress in their lives.

See related: Credit card issuance a matter of black and white?

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