Curb Abuse by Credit Card Companies

Several major banks just hiked interest rates and fees on our credit cards, turning a blind eye to the millions of Americans struggling with the collapsing economy and higher unemployment.

Media reports show Capital One hiked interest rates to 17.9% from 12.9%. Citibank raised their rates an average of 3%. While over at Chase, customers had a "choice" of paying a $120-a-year fee and a higher minimum payment, or a higher interest rate. Meanwhile, the interest rate banks charge each other for overnight loans is as low as 0%.

The Federal Reserve Board passed a new rule to prevent these sudden rate hikes, but it won't go into effect until the middle of 2010. How many times before then will we get slugged with higher rates and fees just so the banks who got billions in taxpayer bailouts can increase their profits?

The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee just reintroduced his bill to put an end to these abuses, saying, “Mark my words: in the coming months, they will end." Other bills also have been introduced to crack down on these abuses.

Let's help make it happen now. Tell Congress we can't afford to wait until mid-2010 for credit card reform!

We can't wait until 2010 - implement credit card reform now!

Dear [Decision Maker],

Americans are struggling financially, and as times get tougher we often have to rely on our credit cards to get us through. Yet the banks and credit card companies -- many of which have received billions in taxpayer bailout money -- continue their abusive practices, hitting customers who make their payments on time with sudden interest rate hikes and new fees. I urge you to put in place credit card reforms right now (S. 392, S. 235, S. 414 and HR 627) to prevent these abuses. In this economy, consumers can't wait until mid-2010 for the Federal Reserve Board to implement rules that will help curb these abuses.

[Your Comments]

In recent weeks, several of the major banks and credit card companies raised interest rates and fees yet again. The media reported Capital One hiked interest rates to 17.9 percent from 12.9 percent. Citibank raised their rates an average of 3 percent. While over at Chase, customers had a "choice" of paying a $120-a-year fee and a higher minimum payment, or paying a higher interest rate. I don't understand why interest rates for consumers are so high, when the interest rate banks charge each other for overnight loans is as low as 0 percent.

As a responsible credit card consumer, I shouldn't be subjected to unexpected interest rate increases and fees, which only drive up my costs during these tough economic times. The Federal Reserve Board recently agreed to important new credit card reforms which would curb many of these abuses, but those rules will not go into effect until July 2010.

I can't wait until 2010 to get real help. I urge you to pass and implement legislation now that will reform credit card tactics so my family and I can get some real financial relief. These measures include:

-- Preventing my card company from changing the rules of the game midstream. Companies shouldn't be allowed to arbitrarily hike the interest rate on my existing balance. A deal should be a deal.
-- Requiring card companies apply my payments fairly across my different balances, not just to the lowest-interest balance. That's just common sense.
-- Controlling the size and duration of penalty interest rates. Companies shouldn't be able to keep me at usurious interest rates forever only for one late payment or another minor infraction.
-- Ending abrupt reductions in my credit limit, which negatively affects my credit score through no fault of my own.
-- Providing an adequate amount of time to pay my bill on time by requiring my bill be sent out no later than 21 days from the due date.
-- Preventing fees just to pay my bill online or on the phone.
-- Ending aggressive marketing of credit cards to young people who need a chance to establish themselves without a heavy debt burden.

As you work to help our nation's businesses recover from this economic recession, I urge you to also help American families fairly pay down their debt and stabilize their personal economic situation. Please pass credit card reforms now. Families can't afford to wait another year-and-a-half for an economic rescue.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
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