Partners - Stock market, economic and political commentary by Patricia Chadwick

Credit Card Holders, Take Action! Call, Email, Write Your Senator and Congressman/woman

Credit card horror stories have been pouring in to me since my Monday blog.One man said his experience with Capital One was so bad that he got the last laugh by shorting the stock at $45.It is now $10, so he is certainly the winner.As he put it, “jokes on them now – and as we say in the south, ‘it aint so funny when the rabbit has the gun.’ ”Good for him.

Another told of his rate going to 26.99% – with a Citibank card that handles both his Sears and Home Depot accounts – when he has paid every month far more than the minimum required. There was not even any written notice; the new usurious rate simply showed up on his most recent statement. His response has been to go to his credit union where he can borrow at 11%.

A woman wrote to say that her LLBean card – managed by Bank of America – had shortened the time period to pay so that by the time the bill arrived, there were only three or four days left before being hit with a penalty.They deliberately took out the card because LLBean offered free shipping.So by cancelling their card, they lose the free shipping and LLBean loses the business – all because of the bank’s policy.

Another man wrote in that he received the very same Capital One letter I had highlighted in my blog and he pointed out that if he closes his account, which he has had for nine years, it will hurt his FICO credit score.He then went on to castigate HSBC which, he notes, (and I am quoting him) ‘routinely make due dates for credit cards on non-business days, and then claim they need two business days to process an online payment, unless you agree to pay $15 for an express payment.Of course, there is no actually different handling involved, this is a computer program that just counts your card as paid, and charges you the $15.”He then notes, “Funny, if I call American Express and key in my checking account number, I have seen a pending deduction at my bank sometimes as little as two hours after entry because once they have the routing number and checking account number nothing is being done manually.”

That same man noted that there are other credit card scams including one “where a mailed payment must be received by 9A.M. on the due date (meaning a typically 9:30 mail delivery on the due date results in a late payment.”

A couple with a Citibank credit card for over 15 years and a credit score in the mid 700s recently received a letter from the bank telling them that their rate will go from 9.86% to 18%.And they say “And there is nothing we can do about it…….They have been robbingpeople blind for decades, as the government sits idle and does NOTHING!!!!!!!”

A small victory was expressed by one writer who has been a Capital One cardholder for over 10 years.When she received the same notice of increase in the rate from 6.9% to 15.99%, she actually called them and (in her words) “accused them of penalizing me, a loyal and responsible customer, with their errors in judgment by extending credit to those who cannot pay them back.”They actually came back and agreed to keep the current rate until next January, at which time they will review the account again.She goes on, “Lesson learned:None of us should take their antics without putting up a fuss.”How right you are!!

This crisis is of monumental proportion and needs to be addressed by both the Federal Government and the State Governments.The crime here is that the banks are transferring the pain of their own bad management on their best clients.They are trying to blame it on the economy and the cost of capital.Well in recessions, good businesses cut prices to grow their business and we all know that interest rates have been falling precipitously for the last two years.

The best advice I can offer is to suggest you fight back – wrestle with the banks and see if you can stave off the rate increases, and then take the time to send your horror story to your State and Federal representatives.If enough people do that, maybe, just maybe, Government will listen, will investigate and will come to your aid.

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6 Responses to “Credit Card Holders, Take Action! Call, Email, Write Your Senator and Congressman/woman”

  1. Wally May Says:

    Hi Patricia. I’ve been reading your blogs, esp. about the
    credit card shenanigans. Send copies to Schumer and Dodd
    (if you live in CT). The card situation has a populist angle
    to it. Sharks like those two will smell blood on the water.

    Miss you and the gang at ING. Played golf last week with
    Hennessy and Turner in AZ. Jim has been retired from ING since 2007;
    has no present connections with it. He then sold all his
    ING shares and options thereto.(Good move.) I can only
    imagine the difficulty of running ING funds with fees down 50%.

  2. Business Credit Building System Says:

    Business Credit Building System…

    Low, low rates for credit card merchant accounts. The proper choice of payment gateway is another vital element which will contribute to your success or failure as an online business. A virtual terminal can be accessed securely from any computer connec…

  3. the credit master Says:

    the credit master…

    I recently looked at my credit score and saw that it had gone up due to a few factors. These were mainly items like me not adding to my debt load and paying my bills on time all the time. I know there are a lot of people out there who have a bad credit…

  4. David Walsh Says:

    Thanks to Patricia, Congress has finally acted to correct the runaway insidious behavior of the credit card companies towards its unsuspecting customers. She was the lone wolf in the night going after the packs of coyotes that were praying on the American public.
    Many polititians will take credit for this new bill but they would have continued to protect these companies had they not been prodded by Ms. Chadwick.

    Thanks Patricia.

  5. CreditGuru Says:

    Make all your payments on time: With timely payment, you will be able to improve the effect of bankruptcy on your credit report. Few late payment or minor misses may affect your credit report a bit but major late payment or misses a bad impact which may hinder your recovery from poor credit.

  6. Jay Moyer Says:

    After being a Citi Card and LOC customer for 10 years, Citi has arbitrarily accelerated me to the default rate of 25.99% on a fixed 2.99% account. This, because I made a payment at 2:30pm due date Daylight Savings, and they only receive their on-line payments in Eastern Time. They had constructive receipt but refused to credit the payment until the next day. They accelerated my 8% Business LOC to 14.99% and started charging a 3 point fee for checks, reducing my credit by $5,000 just because, offering me an Opt-Out which would automatically close the account.
    The web-site is like writing robots, as their international language impaired reps. work from a hand-book like robots, responding like broken ones.
    I am fighting them by snail mail ltr, and will write my Stat AG and Eric Holder, USAG as well as advising the President. This is why we need serious credit card reform and not the silly “gummy” law that was just passed. No change by fake congress.