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PSA By Local College Students Teaches Credit Card Responsibility

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Three budding filmmakers from LaGuardia Community College have made a public service announcement about credit card abuse that is gracing movie screens around the city. NY1's Money Matters reporter Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.

A cautionary tale about credit cards is soon coming to a theater near you. The public service announcement was put together by three students at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. Titled "Think Twice Before You Swipe," it was the winning entry in a contest sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Manhattan borough president's office. Their goal is to reach out to the city's youth about using credit responsibly.

"Financial literacy is a very important and basic skill that we all need to get ahead in modern society," says Kausar Hamdani of the Federal Reserve Bank. "If you're going to talk to young people, you have to talk in their language."

In this case, that language is film. The idea of video contest spoke to aspiring filmmaker Byron Guinanzaca, who collaborated on the project with his brother Christian and their friend, Estela Melendez. For the record, none of them have a credit card.

"This project was a challenge, because you have to do a strong message in a short time, which is 30 seconds," says filmmaker Byron Guinanzaca.

Shot over three days, their submission tells the story of a young man who goes on a spending spree, and winds up with $60,000 in debt. The man says he dropped out of college and works 72 hours a week to pay for all he spent on food, entertainment, shoes and a car.

"We actually wanted to tell young people how to spend or use credit wisely. Because, you know, these days if young people get credit cards, they usually just buy unnecessary stuff," says filmmaker Estela Melendez. "They don't think about it. They don't think about what's going to happen next."

Their subject may face a grim reality, but these students get a Hollywood ending. Their winning film is being screened this month at three cinemas in Midtown Manhattan, Harlem and Queens, guaranteeing a wide audience for their important message -- "Think twice before you swipe."

To see the winning PSA in its entirety, visit the Federal Reserve's Web site at newyorkfed.org or search "Federal Reserve PSA" on YouTube.

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