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Credit Card Reform in Congress: Priceless?

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Monday, May 11, 2009   

Las Vegas, NV – Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected get the Senate working on deceptive credit card practices this week, considering a bill that would require credit card companies to give advance notice before raising rates. When the financial industry got federal bailout money, these companies were expected to ease credit restrictions, but that never happened, according to Anna Marie Johnson at Nevada Legal Services.

Johnson says credit card companies have been changing the rules as they go and using things like credit-to-income ratios to severely reduce credit, even for consumers who pay their bills on time.

"It's a huge double punch. Not only are you losing what credit you had, but you're paying even more because you are getting socked with these monthly over-limit fees."

President Obama supports the Senate bill, but the credit card industry has been lobbying hard to dilute its protections, which they argue will decrease consumer credit in the long run. While the bill gets to some of the worst practices, Johnson says it falls short of addressing many consumer credit complaints. A similar bill already has passed the House of Representatives.

Johnson says many of her clients do not make enough money to have these kinds of credit-card problems. She points out that the biggest credit crunch is hitting middle-class Nevadans, and that could be bad for the economy, she warns.

"The people who are going to be hurt the most are the same people the government is going to rely on to be out there spending to purchase a car or purchase a home. If you're cutting off their lines of credit, you're cutting off the ability of the economy to recover quickly."

Credit to Washington Independent for reporting on this story. More information about Senate Bill 414 is available at http://washingtonindependent.com/41633/credit-card-reform-tests-banking-industry-sway.






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