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Inside Washington (01/05/2010)
* WASHINGTON (1/6/10)--Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut attorney general, is urging the Federal Reserve Board to mandate that credit card interest rates and fees return to last year’s levels after banks raised them because the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosures (CARD) Act was signed into law. He wrote a letter to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke Monday (Dow Jones Jan. 5). Blumenthal cited an American Bankers Association letter that said big banks are charging “enormous” fee increases on low-risk consumers to recoup losses. The CARD Act was passed in May and goes into effect Feb. 22. Until then, interest rate increases apply to future purchase and current balances. After Feb. 22, companies can raise rates on future purchases but not on current balances unless a cardholder is 60 days past due on payments ... * WASHINGTON (1/6/10)--The Small Business Administration (SBA) has again extended its Community Express Pilot Program through Dec. 31, 2010. Credit unions are eligible for the program. The extension will help the SBA evaluate the changes it made to the program in 2008. Under those changes, SBA opened eligibility to any small business whose office was located in a HUBZone or Community Reinvestment Act designated area. It also restricted lenders to charge at maximum the standard 7(a) loan rates--2.25% over prime for maturities under seven years and 2.75% for maturities of seven years or longer; one additional percentage point for loans between $25,000 and $50,000; and two additional percentage points for loans under $25,000 ...


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