I have been pretty pissed off that the banks are STILL allowed to screw over the consumers even after the passage of H.R. 627, the “Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009.” I am especially upset because I took on a lot of debt in the last couple years due to divorce, and now I am without a job, too. So I decided to write to the people who are supposed to be representing me in our government to see if I could get some explanation as to why the banks were given a “grace period” in which to continue to screw the consumer. After a couple weeks, all I got back was a rather generic reply from Congressman Tim Murphy, extolling the virtues of the bill, but conveniently ignoring the fact that our government has allowed the banks to continue their abusive practices for several more months – all this after they were bailed out with our money.
Here is the letter I sent:
I am writing regarding the Credit Card Reform Act.
I understand that one of the provisions of this Act is to limit the credit card companies’ ability to raise rates arbitrarily. Apparently they have been given a “grace period” in which they can continue to abuse the consumer with these increases.
I will try to be brief in describing my personal situation as an example.
I have recently received notice that the APR on my two accounts with Citi will be increased to more than double the current rate. I have NEVER been late in paying these accounts, though I do carry a significant balance. One of the Citi accounts raised my APR to 29.99% in January 2009 and when I called to question it, Citi decided to only raise it by a few points. There was still an increase at that time, but not as high as they had originally imposed.
Today, my calls to CITI for one of the accounts were repeatedly disconnected when I told the customer service person about my concern over the new rate and asked if there was anything I could do about it. A call to a different phone number regarding the other Citi account got through, but they told me my only choice was to pay off the account. This is not likely to happen in the near future as I was laid off from my job in June and have not yet found work. I have still been able to make my minimum payments and I was slowly making progress in paying down my debt, but with these increases that will probably change soon. The rate increases don’t even make sense from a business standpoint. I am able to pay now, but will not be able to pay if my rates are increased. If I end up defaulting on these cards or filing bankruptcy, as I suspect thousands of other people will do, I just don’t see how that helps the consumer or the banks.
Chase and other banks have also done some questionable things recently, such as lowering my credit limit so that it appears that I have maxed out my credit card (I had previously used only about 25% of the available credit). As a result, Chase and others were able to raise my interest rates citing “high balances in relation to credit limits”!
Apparently the Credit Card Reform Act left Citi, Chase and others plenty of time to abuse the consumers before the law goes into effect. I am furious that Citi, after taking taxpayer funded bailout money and recently reporting increased profits, is now raising my rates to more than double the current rates and blaming it on the “economic environment”.
I don’t know if anything can be done to remedy this situation. Perhaps there could be some kind of retroactive solution for those of us who have already been victimized.