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News Now

Washington
Committee approves cardholders bill of rights
WASHINGTON (4/3/09)--The House Financial Services subcommittee on Financial Institutions approved by voice vote Thursday H.R. 627, the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act. Several amendments were included in the bill that could benefit credit unions. One would extend the effective date of the legislation to 12 months after the enactment or July 1, 2010--whichever comes first. “This was a key point that CUNA made in its testimony and represents a significant victory,” said Ryan Donovan, CUNA vice president of legislative affairs. CUNA testified on the legislation March 19 and encouraged the committee to extend the date to July 1, 2010. The subcommittee also approved a manager’s amendment that includes a change regarding statement dates. H.R. 627, as introduced, would prohibit creditors from considering a payment as late unless the consumer is provided with reasonable time to make payments. The bill would require statements to be mailed at least 25 days before the due date. CUNA encouraged the committee to consider a 21-day threshold because the 25-day requirement would be too close to the end of the billing cycle and could create logistical problems for credit unions. The manager's amendment includes the 21-day threshold that CUNA sought. The subcommittee also approved another amendment that would prohibit issuers from charging fees to consumers paying credit card bills online or by phone. Two amendments--offered by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), which deal with universal default and interest rates--were defeated. The first amendment would have allowed card companies to use universal default or double cycle billing if the company has at least one card that does not use double cycle billing or universal default. The second amendment would have permitted issuers to raise rates on a consumer who failed to pay three times in a year. The full committee or the House of Representatives could consider the bill when Congress returns from the spring district work period, Donovan said.
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