NASHVILLE - 'Tis the season for splurging in Tennessee, but those great deals now could come back to bite you in the long run.
One offer seen quite often from retailers is for zero-interest financing, where there is no interest charged if you pay off the bill in a set amount of time.
But if you don't, consumer advocate Judy Doran says, the interest is retroactively applied to the entire purchase.
"So if, originally, the price was $100, and you've paid down to $50, instead of interest on $50, the interest rate is on $100."
Doran manages her legal-aid organization's elder-exploitation project. She says one of her clients, a 70-year-old living on Social Security, bought a $1,000 TV last year, and now owes nearly as much in interest on top of that.
Doran says seniors on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable during the holidays.
"It's an emotional time, and you want to buy something for your children or grandchildren. And it sounds like a good deal. But if you think you're getting too good a deal, you probably are."
A recent report by CardHub.com calls out 14 companies for not being transparent enough about their interest-free policies. Included on CardHub's "Wall of Shame" are such names as Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Apple, Best Buy, Victoria's Secret and Amazon.com.