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New credit card fee limits

The United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pledging to further scrutinize credit card issuer policies. Although the CARD Act was passed in 2009, the bureau believes that more work is to be done. In particular, the bureau may impose new limits on fees that issuers can charge on credit card debt incurred by Wisconsin consumers and those in other states.

The CARD Act tackled some of these problems by limiting the ability of lenders to raise interest fees, minimizing late fees and forcing issuers to get approval from customers to apply over-limit fees. However, the bureau is now looking into other kinds of fees that might be undue and whether consumers are adequately disclosed of this information. The CFPB published a report regarding credit card issuers that analyzes the CARD Act's effect on credit card business.

Some benefits that have been realized since the CARD Act was passed include lower amounts of fees collected on credit card accounts and more credit card contracts that are easier to read. However, some potential for abuse still exists. For example, the CARD Act prohibits upfront fees that are more than 25 percent of the card's credit limit. However, application fees are exempt from this limit. Another cause for concern is "deferred interest" cards, which allow a zero interest rate to start, but charge retroactive interest if the balance isn't paid off by a certain date. The bureau also says that it will closely monitor credit card manufacturers that include a credit monitoring program for an additional charge to customers.

Wisconsin bankruptcy attorneys may be able to assist individuals who are having trouble with debt. They may be able to offer suggestions on how to have fees waived on accounts or offer advice on whether bankruptcy is the best option.

Source: Bloomberg, "Bank Credit-Card Fees Face New Scrutiny by Consumer Bureau", Carter Dougherty, October 02, 2013

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