Good Credit: New Bill Protects Consumers

The credit card companies are finally being put on a leash

Americans love their credit cards. How else can you explain why the average household owes nearly ten thousand dollars on plastic?

But even when you try to pay down your balance, the bills can keep mounting and the rates keep climbing -- until now.

Beginning Thursday, August 20th, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's measure to rein in credit card companies takes effect.

Now, card issuers must notify you well in advance if they plan to change your interest rate.

At a news conference in Greeley Square, Rep. Maloney said "you will have 45 days... to decide to cancel your card, pay off your existing balance at the rate that it is now and go to a card with a lower rate."

Bills must also now be sent 21 days before they're due instead of fourteen -- a move that's expected to help consumers avoid late fees.

Molly Gordy, an Upper West Side working mom complained at the news conference about feeling penalized for paying down the balance on her credit card.

"They tried to double my rate and gave no excuse. I think they just want to make as much money off you and they don't care," said Gordy.

Consumer advocates praise Rep. Maloney's "Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act." Most of its consumer protections though, won't take effect until February 22, 2010.

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