Enticements of free food and merchandise when applying for credit cards could be a thing of the past if a consumer advocacy group has its way.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group recently launched a nationwide campaign, "Truth About Credit," in an effort to limit aggressive credit card marketing to college students.
Ed Mierzwinski, the consumer advocate for the group, said he is working to get the support of lawmakers, including lobbying Congress to pass laws that regulate credit card offers to full-time students.
Every campus has its own policy, he said, but in most states card marketing on campus is legal.
In Florida, there are very few, if any, laws regarding marketing on college campuses, he said.
Larry Ciaccia, president of AuthenTec Inc., said college students are a main target group for credit card companies.
"Students are impulse buyers, more likely to keep a credit balance and in many cases do not have an existing credit card," he said.
Alex Randon, an electrical engineering student at UF, said a free pita got him to sign up.
Pita Pit had a credit card representative in the restaurant twice last year, said Dan Beechner, a manager at the restaurant.
Students who applied for a specific card received a pita that was paid for by the credit card company. During the one-week promotion, more than 100 pitas were given to applicants, he said.
Similar promotions go on at other restaurants in Gainesville.
The reason companies promote with free food is because it works, Ciaccia said.
"It is a challenge to get the attention of today's students," he said.