Creative New Fees Escape CARD Act Rules, Surprise Consumers

30 Dec

Did anyone really expect reform?

by Tamara E. Holmes
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New report highlights ways issuers have gotten around new law

While the Credit CARD Act of 2009 puts an end to abusive tactics card issuers have long used to boost their profits, consumers need only to look at their card statements to know there’s no reason to celebrate.

In the past year, card issuers have rolled out or expanded their use of other ways to collect millions more in fees each year, many of which are hidden to consumers, according to the Durham, N.C.-based Center for Responsible Lending’s Dec. 10 report, “Dodging Reform: As Some Credit Card Abuses Are Outlawed, New Ones Proliferate.”

“Credit card issuers are going to more than ever try to find ways to make extra profits,” says Joshua M. Frank, a senior researcher with the Center and author of the report. New charges and changes to the way fees are calculated are adding to the balances of a growing number of cardholders. While some of the practices were instituted after the Credit CARD Act was approved in May, others were quietly being put in place earlier as a result of the recession. The one thing they have in common, says Frank, is that “none of them are explicitly prohibited by the Credit CARD Act.”

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