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Credit Scarred Consumers Want Faster Reform

Consumers, battered by hiked rates, lowered credit limits and new fees, say they can't wait for credit reform. They want it to start now, according to a recent survey,

Some 56% of consumers polled by said they want the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights to be implemented in December, rather than next February, when it's now slated to go into effect. Congress has debated speeding up the implementation date, but has not yet acted.

In the meantime, cardholders say they are facing a raft of anti-consumer moves from their banks.

  • 27% say the bank has hiked their interest rate (that's up from 15% in a February poll).
  • 19% say they face higher fees (up from 14% in June).
  • 17% have had their credit limits cut (up from 8% in February).
  • 17% have had their minimum payments hiked.
  • 12% have had the bank pull back on their rewards program.
And that may be just the start, said Bill Hardekopf, president of Bank of America, one of the nation's largest credit card issuers, recently announced that it would impose annual fees ranging from $29 to $99 on a portion of its card holders in a "test" that would start next February.

It's worth mentioning that the Bank had promised Congress in a letter a week before that it would not implement any re-pricing of consumer credit card accounts between now and the effective date of the CARD act. Spokeswoman Betty Riess said the letter referred only to interest rates, not fees.

As always, the devil is in the details.

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