Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Congress & The Fed Review Credit Card Tactics (aka the superfine print)

Credit card companies can be some of the meanest low down scoundrels out to get you. And until now, it was the wild west out there for 'em, but not anymore. This Friday, October 12th, is the last day public comments are allowed on the Federal Reserve's proposal to change the Truth in Lending Provisions.

An MSN article breaks down the points of contention that I'm sure many of us have experienced on first hand ring of hell basis.

Fixed rate means fixed rate.No more, oh we saw that the directional wind changed in the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania, so we raised your APR. They need to specify a date, or it's fixed for the life of the account.

Clearly state what triggers an APR increase. "Changes to your creditworthiness" won't cut it. A late payment on this card? A late payment on another card? Nail it down in language that is understandable.

Account changes within 45 days notice instead of 15.Rather than reading the past tense history of your interest rate spike and paying the consequences, you get an extra 30 days to make changes; pay down the card, transfer the balance to a less lecherous creditor, or close the account.

In addition, both the House and Senate are have held hearings on credit card standards and a House bill is expected to be introduced soon, guided by Carolyn Maloney's (D-New York) four "gold standard" principles:

Credit card companies should issue cards on terms individuals can repay.

Issuers should clearly explain account features, terms and pricing at relevant times.

Issuers should provide customers notice and choice with respect to changes in terms.

Issuers should encourage responsible, successful credit use, especially among new credit entrants and customers with special needs.

The article surmises,

    "None of those principles sounds all that drastic, but the devil will be in the details. You can expect a big push to eliminate the following four "foul play" practices: Universal default, deceptive billing cycles, anytime/any reason repricing, and pay to pay."

There are links within the article to contact your House Rep and your Senator, as well as the proposed changes with the Fed here (pdf file), then voice your opinion here, or shoot off an email to regs.comments@federalreserve.gov with Docket No. R-1286 in the subject line.

The card companies got their bankruptcy laws, now it's time for us to go out and get ours. I hope by Friday you can find the time to give them a piece of your mind.


Ms. M&P said...

God, it's crazy that they don't do this stuff already! It seems like such basic business practice to do what you say you will. But you're right, they've had free reign for a long time! Usually, Congress doesn't mess with the big credit card companies, but maybe with a new party in power they'll be able to get something passed, and signed by the President which seems to the be the tough part these days.

PiggyBankBlues said...

One would think. Usually, government is a little slow on the uptick. Truth in lending should be for all loans, I think. Loan packages have become so sophisticated, all to make money for the lenders, and there is no accountability for them regarding how they lend. Then poor Joe Shmoe is left hung out to dry... It will be interesting to see how the political landscape changes, if it does.