Monday, September 28, 2009

Credit Cards - Rep. Barney Frank's Frustration (Mine Also)

Rep. Barney Frank (D), Congressman from Western MA, wants to "push up" the effective date of the new Credit Card regulations. He is prompted by the frenzy of card issuers raising rates, cutting limits, changing terms, and adding fees, all to beat the starting date of the laws. The laws merely set limits on how and how often card companies can change the terms of the agreement you have with them, without prior notice.

The standard argument, that there is no contract unless both sides agree, is not able to be put forth, because in the agreement you signed originally you gave the company the right to make all of these changes, even to your detriment. Is it fair? NO!, Is it legal? Yes, but only until the first of the year.

Congressman Frank's frustration is understandable, especially if you have a card and have been "slammed" by the card company with rates and fees you never anticipated. That these same companies, CitiBank, Bank of America, Chase, all have Federal Money from the bailout is beside the point. As stated in an earlier post, this is how they were able to report record earnings last quarter.

Congress will not change the date to October as Congressman Frank wants, but at least the issue is again being discussed. Unfortunately, the Congressman may suffer a decline in his credibility with his colleagues, but he will have a boost from his constituents.

Right now, everyone should be examining his/her cards and statements to determine if the terms have suddenly changes, if rates are higher, credit limits lower. If you need a card try a local financial institution. If none issue cards, shop for a new one, if yours is not playing fair. Be certain that you read the "Agreement and Terms" disclosure that will be your contract, BEFORE you use the card. Do not hesitate to decline the card even after it is issued to you. Be certain however, that you follow the rules on terminating the relationship or you could find an open credit line, detracting from your credit score, all the while believing that the card account was closed.

To be safe about credit, whether it is cards, loans, mortgages, joint accounts, "authorized user" cards (where the credit is based on someone else who has given you a card to use), get at least one credit report every six months. They are free from .

Check to be certain that only the cards you use are open. Close everything else. While there may be a slight drop in your credit score (see posts of 7/27/09 and 6/11/09), the risk is far less than if you have unused and unwanted open credit lines affecting your score and overall credit standing.

Author's Copyright by Richard I. Isacoff, Esq, September, 2009

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Actually Barney Frank is not from Western, Ma. He represents the 4th District which includes Brookline to the North and all the way south to Wareham. To agree with Barney Frank on any point is pure folly. Barney Frank is one of the reasons our nation is in so much trouble. Frank is responsible for the mortgage meltdown. The people in Barney's District have had enough. Earl Sholley will be elected the new US Rep. for the 4th District in 2010. Check his website for some real common sense financial solutions.