10/16/2009 - The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, signed into law in May, gave credit card companies a leisurely timetable — as long as 15 months — to phase out predatory practices used to bleed consumers. Not surprisingly, the companies have exploited this generosity by driving already outrageous interest rates still higher and imposing fees that are pushing struggling families further into debt.
Congress can end this injustice by moving up the deadline, accelerating reform and helping consumers.
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A forthcoming study from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Safe Credit Cards Project shows that credit card interests rates — already too high — rose by 20 percent in the first two quarters of this year, even though the cost of lending went down as a result of low federal interest rates. In testimony before Congress earlier this month, one consumer advocate cited case after case of struggling consumers who had seen their credit card rates more than double for no apparent reason, even when they had faithfully paid on time.
Read the full editorial Last-Minute Credit Card Tricks on the New York Times's Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Safe Credit Cards Project on PewHealth.org.