Warning about an assault on college students' credit

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PHOENIX - The much anticipated Credit Card Bill of Rights goes into effect today. The bill means more aggressive activity on college campuses.

This federal program is being phased in and the Attorney General warns that credit card companies are stepping up efforts to sign students up before these tougher restrictions take effect.

One college student 3 On Your Side talked to learned a tough lesson about credit card debt and she's now paying the price both financially and emotionally.

"This box haunts me, I walk in the room and it's right there," Eva Martinez said.

It's a shoe box, not filled with shoes, but with bills. Many of them, unopened.

"All these bills, I can only look at them," she said. "I can't do anything about it which is sad for me."

Like so many college students, Martinez received an onslaught of credit card offers when she turned 18. Within a matter of months, she opened up 10 credit cards and racked up thousands of dollars in debt.

"Very often college students run up very high bills, not thinking how they are going to pay them off, so they either leave a huge amount for parents to pay or they graduate with significant amount of credit card debt," Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.

Attorney General Terry Goddard said parents and students need to be on alert, especially right now as new restrictions on credit cards are about to take effect.

Come February of next year:

-universities will be required to disclose marketing agreements with credit card companies

-credit card companies will be prohibited from offering free merchandise to students in exchange for signing up, when the offer is made on or near campus or at a college event

-anyone under 21 years old will need a parent, guardian or spouse over the age of 21 to cosign

"This year, this entering class, the credit card companies know it's their last shot," Goddard said.

Two freshmen 3 On Your Side spoke with are both thinking about getting a credit card, which can be a good idea. If used responsibly you can build credit and have a back-up plan in case of emergencies.

But then there's the flip side, for teenagers like Eva Martinez. Credit Cards proved dangerous. Martinez is now in such deep debt, she's depressed and afraid. That box of bills sits in her room as a reminder of the mess that she somehow has to clean up.

"Emotionally it haunts me, every day, I always try to distract myself," she said."I kinda felt I really, really messed up on this."

Starting today, all credit card companies must send you your bill at least 21 days before it's due date. That's one of the biggest changes. Also they are now required to give you 45 days notice if the credit card company decides to raise your interest rate.

For more information from the Attorney General, .