When banks go wrong

Credit card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act.” This is a law to re-regulate the banks in some ways a return to the sort of regulations that banks did have to operate by back in the 1970s. Precisely, before any bank may issue a credit card to an 18 year old teenager, the teenager must have an adult co-signer. At the time of the de-regulatory fervor of the Reagan revolution, such a little known banking restriction was effectively removed or simply not enforced. And the ability of banks to begin running amok with the tendency to engage in predatory lending against our young people would really take off, especially in the first decade of the 21st century. This is also relevant information, New Credit Card Rules that banks now have to comply with in informing their customers of interest rates, what may happen if they send in late payments, increased penalty interest rates should the customer send in late payments, and what those late penalties would look like. Literally, this warning block that should appear somewhere on the billing statement encourages credit card account holders to be responsible in their debt payments.  Obviously, this is not my usual fare of commenting on the published opinion of other peoples.  It is none the less news worthy and something that the MSM (mainstream news media) does not like to explore at length.  Exactly what these acts and regulatory laws do for the people who have been thoroughly burned by banks such as Capital One, Bank of America, Chase, etc.  Oh yes, the big, bad Democratic-controlled government did as a matter of public interest on the behalf of people who suffered greatly from abusive and predatory as well as illegal practices by the banks.  For if it had been instead a Republican-controlled Congress; they wouldn’t have permitted these regulations no matter whom the banks had hurt prior to Obama becoming president.

You take people like Mona Charen who doesn’t like the fact that government started re-regulating the banks along with other “big government” evils.  Ms. Charen won’t admit to it I am sure, but she could more than afford to pay off an account should say Capital One Bank refuse to credit her payments to her account(s), more than double the “minimum payment due,” on the next billing statement, or engage in other illegal hi-jinks such as penalizing her for on-time debt payments with late fees and penalty interest rates.  That doesn’t mean that anyone else whom Capital One Bank (for example) has mistreated or abused in this manner, has that kind of financial resource.  Therefore, unlike a Mona Charen; the rest of us need to acquaint ourselves with this law and personally hold the banks accountable who do not currently abide by it.  So literally, if it is illegal by the law to collect it, then account holders are under no obligation to pay it.  That means, that it is up to account holders to study their billing statements very carefully.

  • Is there a warning box on the general billing statement.  The new credit card rules describe what this box should look like.
  • Does the bank post when precisely your payments arrived, especially if you are sending them by mail?  This is mandatory to determining if a bank can legally charge a late fee and penalty interest rate.  Should your payments have been posted prior to the due date on the billing statement, and the bank penalizes you with late fees and penalty interest rates, you can immediately dispute these charges with a written complaint to the bank.  No, the bank can not legally assess them.  No, you are not legally required to pay them according to the laws linked to above.
  • Should the bank “delay” crediting your on-time payment to the account; no it can not assess a penalty interest charge.  Which means that not only do you need to (if writing a check for example) keep track of when you sent the payment (or carefully keep note of your on line payment transaction), but also to study your billing statement closely for any reference to such “penalty interest charges” and compare it to when exactly you had made this payment.  Yes, it does mean that you will be required to keep records.
  • What if the bank fails to properly post your payments?  This is an unfortunate habit that banks such as Capital One and HSBC got into.  Again, you would have to keep a record of the payment, such as check book, money order stubs or copies or take note of (through a diary or journal) when exactly you had made your debt payment.  Then you can dispute the bank’s failure to properly and professionally post the payments on a timely basis.  If the bank fails to correct this matter, it is called the Fair Credit Billing Act of 1999.  The bank must correct your legitimate complaints in a period of 45 days or “write off” accrued debt created by their failure to do their jobs right the first time.
  • In short, given the above examples of any bank’s failure to abide by regulatory rules regarding the issuing of credit cards as well as damaging the public trust as they sought to “turn a profit” at the expense of their account holders; the laws do mean that account holders must assume more responsibility if they are to adequately protect themselves from banks that do not care for and will not abide by these new rules.  Or for that matter, older rules.

I had to learn about these laws through the able assistance of the U.S. Justice who sent me a hard copy—with links for info—so that I could compare the actual practices of Capital One bank as to the types of billing statements that they were sending me with the actual law.  Literally, the bank was breaking the law every time they sent a billing statement. And they have been notified of that every time.  Given the fact that Capital One has introduced a nightmare to the wallets of a great many of their account holders, the ads they put on television that do not in fact tell the truth of how they mismanage debt payments of long time account holders, fail to credit on-time payments, charge late fees and penalty interest rates to on-time payments; their ads are dishonest and should actually penalize them for a failure to abide by truth in lending.  After all, their ads are exactly why they want you to sign up for their cards in the first place.  If they do not live up to the claims they make on these ads, then they can and should be held legally accountable.

One method, is to declare a breach of contract.  Yes, actually you can.  The credit card rules terms and conditions are the bank’s contract between yourself and the bank.  If the bank fails to abide by rules and regs such as referenced to above, they have nullified the terms and conditions of credit card use because they have acted abusively against your interests.  And what legitimate bank would desire to do that if they want your business? If the ad is there to encourage you to sign up for the card, then the requirement is that the bank honor not only the ad but also the necessary customer service to promptly and professionally handle your legitimate complaints.  If the bank fails to do this, then it can be and must be held legally accountable.  It is up to you.

In this 2010 election season where the GOP manipulate the fear factor and anger about “too much government” that intrudes into banks, the auto industry and etc.  Seems to me that the first thing they really wish to prey on is the ignorance of these important laws by the vast majority of the general public.  Well now, given the abuses by the banks such as mentioned above, credit card companies have burned sufficient people that they no longer desire to make use of credit cards and it becomes a cash only transaction between themselves and retail stores because credit card use (to extend the buying power of the customer) has become verboten.  Of course the GOP and radical such as Charen, Barone, and etc. won’t mention anything like that.  Run amok banks hurt a lot of people including retail giants such as WalMart and national chains such as Macy’s as well as the closing of smaller stores in malls across the country.  No, the GOP will not of course discuss the damages that their de-regulation of the 1980s did do especially by 2001 and onward.  They want to whip up anger against the Democrats in general and Obama in particular who truly did act in the public interest with the above laws.  This is one time that government truly was watching out for the rest of us.  Remember the U.S. Constitution.  It does say that Congress can regulate interstate trade.  Given just how much influence financial institutions have on interstate trade, well now, they can be regulated too.  It is in your interest that this must be done.

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