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Capital One Urges Consumers to Take Annual Pulse Check

April 29, 2002 at 9:08 AM EDT

FALLS CHURCH, Va., April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Not unlike your car or your health, your finances need regular maintenance and check-ups to ensure top performance. According to a recent "Financial State of the Nation" study conducted on behalf of leading credit card provider Capital One, U.S. consumers aren't consistently making a similar annual effort to ensure their financial matters, such as their credit history, are in check. This national call-to-action is rooted in several findings that indicate a greater need for increased financial awareness among consumers.

"Being aware of credit basics, like your current balance and limit, is a sound way to prevent credit abuse, but your knowledge cannot stop there," said Diana Don, Director of Financial Education at Capital One. "It is crucial to be informed and current on all aspects of your finances, from interest rates and fees to spending and saving patterns, and to educate yourself on best credit practices."

In an effort to help Americans empower themselves with the knowledge they need to develop sound financial practices, Capital One offers consumer education resources for dealing with life's various financial stages. The company offers easy-to-follow educational materials that address tasks such as obtaining and understanding credit reports and correcting errors. All materials are available free online at http://www.capitalone.com/credit101 .

The Financial State of the Nation

Capital One's "Financial State of the Nation" study found that more than 91 percent of U.S. adults fail to check their credit reports regularly. Compounding this issue is the fact that nearly 43 percent of adults worry about being denied credit in the future. By neglecting to check their credit reports, consumers are leaving themselves vulnerable to identify theft and credit errors that can result in having to borrow at higher interest rates or being turned down by creditors.

"Credit card companies, landlords and prospective employers are just a sampling of those who make decisions based on credit reports, so it's crucial that consumers make certain their bureau reports are accurate," explained Don. "No one wants to be turned down for a loan or suffer the embarrassment of failing to pass a potential employer's screening process, yet many people face these situations needlessly because of undetected credit report errors."

Encouraging Signs

Fortunately, Capital One's study did uncover areas where Americans' financial responsibility may be improving. When spending, 73 percent of consumers said they take their credit limit into consideration and the vast majority (83 percent) know the current balance of the credit card they use most often. In addition, more than half of respondents who have credit cards reported they have never spent up to 90 percent of their credit limit.

Battle of the Sexes

Interestingly, men more than women tend to spend without thinking about limits (31 percent vs. 23 percent). Meanwhile, women are less likely than men to regularly request their credit report (17 percent vs. 26 percent). However, the sexes overwhelmingly agreed (78 percent) that a low annual interest rate was a more important credit card feature than member benefits (15 percent) or a high credit limit (4 percent).

NOTE TO EDITORS:

Survey Methodology

Capital One's credit study was conducted by International Communications Research from March 8-12, 2002. The survey was conducted among a random nationwide sample of 1,012 Americans 18 years and over. The margin of error was +/- 3 percent.

About Capital One

Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation (http://www.capitalone.com ) is a holding company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer consumer lending products. Capital One's subsidiaries collectively had 46.6 million customers and $48.6 billion in managed loans outstanding as of March 31, 2002. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, is one of the largest providers of MasterCard and Visa credit cards in the world. Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 500 index.

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SOURCE Capital One Financial Corporation

-0- 04/29/2002

/CONTACT: Diana Don of Capital One, +1-703-205-1165, or diana.don@capitalone.com; or Danielle Clark of Manning Selvage & Lee, +1-212-213-7167, or danielle.clark@mslpr.com, for Capital One Financial Corporation/

/Web site: http://www.capitalone.com

http://www.capitalone.com/credit101/