Bill would hasten credit card reforms

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Just a few months after the first phase of Congressmember Carolyn Maloney’s credit card reform bill – the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (Credit CARD Act) – took effect, the local representative has again earned herself some credit – this time for pushing forward a measure that would speed up the implementation of her legislation’s remaining reforms.

Congressmembers voted 331-92 on November 4 to expedite the remaining dates – February and August 2010 – by which banks and credit card issuers must comply with the new regulations. The bill, which is awaiting a vote in the Senate, calls for the immediate implementation of the outstanding reforms upon the legislation’s enactment.

The regulations that were activated this past August stipulate that credit card issuers must provide written notice to consumers 45 days prior to increasing rates or making any other significant account changes; inform credit card holders of their right to cancel their card before a rate hike takes effect; and send notifications to consumers 21 days before the due date of any payment.

Additional reforms, such as the banning of rate hikes on existing balances and an end to double-cycle billing, have yet to be implemented. But, Maloney said in a statement, “Card companies have redoubled many of the abusive practices that brought Congress to pass my original reforms last spring.” She went on, “Rather than use the time – time they asked for – since the bill’s signing in May to prepare for the changes, they’ve raised rates and fees with absolutely no regard for the dire position of millions of their customers.”

Consumers who suspect their banks are not adhering to the enacted requirements can submit a complaint with the Office of Comptroller of the Currency – which regulates the credit card industry – online any time at or by calling 1-800-613-6743 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.