It wasn’t an accident:

The industry’s practices during the lending boom are coming back to haunt many credit-card lenders now. Cate Colombo, a former call center staffer at MBNA, the big issuer bought by Bank of America in 2005, says her job was to develop a rapport with credit-card customers and advise them to use more of their available credit. Colleagues would often gather around her chair when she was on the phone with a consumer and chant: “Sell, sell.” “It was like Boiler Room,” says Colombo, referring to the 2000 movie about unscrupulous stock brokers. “I knew that they would probably be in debt for the rest of their lives.” Unless, of course they default. Responds BofA spokeswoman Betty Riess: “The allegations do not reflect our practices. The bank has nothing to gain by extending credit to people who do not have the ability to pay us back.”

That’s quite an anecdote. The use of “boiler room” tactics to sell consumer debt is, in my view, one of the most under-reported stories of the mortgage crisis.

Credit to BW for shining a bit of light on such tactics in the credit-card business.

More, please.

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.