Congresswoman Barbara Lee this week voted for a national credit card bill of rights to protect consumers against unfair practices. The legislation, passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 361– 64, will now go on to President Barack Obama’s desk to be signed into law. The law would end the unfair practices of the credit card industry and protect consumers from the abusive tactics that have driven so many Americans deeper and deeper into debt. “It’s unacceptable that during these incredibly difficult and challenging economic times, our constituents are increasingly being squeezed with egregious fees and dubious business practices by the very banks that their tax dollars have been bailing out,” said Lee. “The bill will level the playing field between card issuers and cardholders by applying common sense regulations that would ban most retroactive interest rate hikes on existing balances, double-cycle billing and due-date gimmicks. While I believe the consumer protections in this bill should have gone into effect sooner, I am pleased that Congress has taken swift action to get this legislation to the President’s desk. Lee said she was disappointed that the final bill retains language to allow guns in national parks. This language is not only unnecessary but unrelated to the goals of this bill which is to provide critical credit protections to consumers, she said. “We cannot continue to allow the gun lobby to hold us hostage to their agenda,” she said. The credit card bill would ban most interest rate increases on existing balances and increases notice of interest rate hikes going forward on new purchases. It requires that bills be sent 21 days before the due date; prohibits charging fees just to pay a bill by phone, mail or web; bans over-the-limit fees unless a consumer opts-in in advance; bans due-date tricks; requires payments to be applied fairly to the highest interest rate balance first; and strengthens credit card protections for young people.
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