Credit Cards From Largest Banks Would Break New Law, Pew Says

28 Oct

Building on what I posted yesterday, even the criminal Fed is denouncing the criminal credit card issuers. All irony aside, the Bloomberg article below is a great one to have on hand when you call your credit card company and ask them to adjust your rate down to a normal level that can actually enable you to pay off the debt. Now is the time to get aggressive with these people: first be polite and tell them that you would like to get your balance paid off; secondly, tell them that it is simply not possible with the current rate they are offering and that you fear you cannot continue to pay even the minimum payment. If they do not cooperate with reason, or a solid payment plan, then I suggest that you cite this article which refers to them as criminals. Tell them that you have tried to be reasonable and they are not cooperating. You might even suggest that a law suit is coming against their blatant worse-than-loansharking rates. If nothing works:  don’t pay, just walk away.

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) — None of the credit cards offered online by the 12 largest U.S. banks would meet requirements of new federal curbs on the industry’s rates and fees, a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts said.

All of the cards surveyed used practices considered “unfair or deceptive” by the Federal Reserve, according to the report released today by the Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization. The study examined almost 400 cards advertised by banks and credit unions and compared terms for cards offered in July 2009 and December 2008.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which takes effect in stages, will require banks to apply payments to higher-rate balances first, limit rate increases and ban practices such as “universal default,” or raising rates based on a missed payment with another lender. Most of those rules are scheduled to begin Feb. 22; others such as limits on gift-card fees are set to start Aug. 22.

“Our research shows the most harmful practices the card act targets remain widespread,” said Nick Bourke, manager of Pew’s Safe Credit Cards Project, which began studying how the industry treats consumers in 2007.

Cardholders haven’t benefited from historically low interest rates, even though the Fed lowered the federal funds rate to near zero to ease lending for banks, the report said. Credit cards became more costly for American families in the first half of 2009, which makes them a potentially dangerous part of most Americans’ financial lives, according to the report.

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