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Washington
Credit card reform gets April 17 spotlight
WASHINGTON (4/14/08)—Rep. Carolyn Maloney has scheduled an April 17 hearing on her bill intended to reform abusive practices of the credit card industry and improve consumer protections. The New York Democrat, who chairs the House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit, said in her announcement that the American consumer is feeling dual pressures concerning their credit card use. As more consumers use their credit cards to “help pay bills, buy groceries, and make ends meet in a troubled economy,” they find the relationship between cardholder and car company has become “very one-sided in recent years” to the disadvantage of consumers, she said. Maloney introduced her package of credit card reforms, which is being billed as the Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rights (H.R. 5244), in February. It was introduced with 40 co-sponsors and is intended to curb abusive practices, such as some interest-rate increases and late fees and the subcommittee held its first hearing on it on March 13. In part, the bill would require card issuers to provide a 45-day notice period for consumers before an interest rate could be executed. Cardholders would then have the right to cancel their card and pay off their existing balance at the existing rate and repayment schedule. H.R. 5244 would also prohibit a practice known as "double-cycle billing," in which card companies charge interest on payments made on time during a grace period. It would also ban arbitrary changes in the credit card contract. A witness list has not yet been made public, but Maloney said the subcommittee will hear from consumers, regulators, and credit card industry representatives.


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