10/22/2009 - Congress blundered badly when it gave the credit card industry as long as 15 months to phase out the deceptive and predatory practices that were outlawed in a new law enacted in May.
Instead of backing away from exploitation, credit card companies have intensified it. For starters, they have driven up already outrageous interest rates by an industrywide average of about 20 percent, according to a report scheduled to be released next week from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Safe Credit Cards Project. The companies also have used sleight of hand to more than double rates on customers who spent prudently and paid their bills on time.
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act would end a great many odious practices. The companies, for example, could no longer deluge broke and unemployed teenagers with credit cards, driving them deeply into debt that they have no way of paying off. Credit card companies will have to verify the young person’s ability to pay or get a signature from a responsible adult before credit is issued.
Read the full editorial Credit Card Chicanery on the New York Times' 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Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Safe Credit Cards Project on PewHealth.org.