A Credit Card Bill Americans Will Appreciate

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Today's tight economy is making it harder and harder for Americans to meet their basic needs.

Charge It!

To cope, consumers are charging everything on credit, from groceries at the local supermarket, to selecting pay outside - with their credit card of course - to fill up at the pump.

Gas Station owner Sonny Pritchard sees it firsthand.

He explained, "If I do $16,000 in sales in a day or $15,000 - $12,000 is going to be credit cards."

Click play to hear Pat Robertson's comments following CBN News Reporter Charlene Israel's report.

Last year Americans put more than $2.2 trillion worth of goods and services on their credit cards.

As those numbers increased, many financial experts point out that the playing field between creditors and borrowers became very one-sided. Consumer complaints ranging from unfair rate hikes to hidden fees are getting more and more attention.

In Congress, some lawmakers have threatened banks with tighter regulation surrounding credit card fees and policies.

Fighting for the Little Guy

One of the more outspoken on the issue is Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York. Time magazine calls her "a tenacious and resilient legislator."

Maloney has introduced "The Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights."

"We know from the subprime crisis government has been criticized, the Federal Reserve has been criticized for acting too slowly," she explained. "Now we know that credit cards are being abusive and what the bill does is it really reforms and stops some of the most abusive practices."

Maloney contacted CBN News after seeing coverage about credit card industry abuses on the 700 Club.

She said, "I have gotten many calls from across the country that said 'Hey, you've gotta get what the Christian Broadcasting Network is doing -- a series of really great interviews on credit card abuse and fraud.'"

The 'Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights':

     - Protects consumers from arbitrary interest rate increases,

     - Protects consumers from 'due date' gimmics

     - Protects consumers from misleading terms

     - Allows cardholders to set limits on their credit

     - Protects vulnerable consumers from fee-heavy subprime cards

     - Congress would provide better oversight of the credit card industry.

Enter the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve is also getting into the game. It recently called for credit card companies to stop raising interest rates for no reason and make sure customers have enough time to pay their bills.

Maloney applauds the Fed's efforts.

She commented, "The Fed is responsible for safety and soundness in our financial institutions and for them to say that this is unfair and deceptive practices and that it needs to be stopped. They issued guidelines that are very, very similar to the bill."

Consumers say changes to the credit card industry are long overdue.

"I think it's great," Joe Gary of Virginia Beach Virginia said. "I think they should go for it and help the American people out and do the best for them."

Bill Laing of Williamsburg, Virginia agreed.

"You want certain government intervention it's been kind of lax, we do need more intervention to regulate large companies like that," Laing said.

While Maloney expects a fight from the banking industry, she believes that the American people deserve a chance to stay in the game.

She said, "We have strong support, 127 co-sponsors is very significant, having the guidance from the Federal Reserve that basically says this is unfair, deceptive and needs to change is tremendously important and I hope to pass this bill before the August recess."

*Original broadcast July 14, 2008.

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CBN News
Charlene Israel

Charlene Israel

CBN News Reporter

CBN News is a national/international, nonprofit news organization that provides programming by cable, satellite, and the Internet, 24-hours a day. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.