Sanders to Try Again on Card Rates

Article excerpt

A Vermont lawmaker said Wednesday that he will try again next year to get Congress to restrict interest rate changes by credit card companies.

"The bottom line is that the American consumers are being ripped off

by credit card companies," said Rep. Bernard Sanders, a independent. "My hope," he said, is that committee members "will have the courage to stand up to the bank and substantially lower interest rates across the country."

Other Democrats on the subcommittee and two consumer advocates joined Rep. Sanders on Wednesday in berating the card industry for changing rates without alerting customers and said the industry has allowed record levels of credit card debt to pile up.

Their comments came at a hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

Last year Rep. Sanders proposed an amendment to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act that would have blocked credit card companies from changing interest rates on accounts because of consumers' credit history unless they were delinquent on the account or 60 days past due on another debt. Rep. Bachus also supported the bill, but it was voted down 44 to 22 in committee.

Industry officials and most House Republicans countered Rep. Sanders' latest criticism Wednesday by saying that most consumers were happy with their credit cards and that increased competition among credit card companies gave customers more options and kept costs low. …