CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS ARE GOING UP
Default interest rate or penalty rate
Offices that handle credit card complaints; how to file a complaint
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January 5, 2006 Issue



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Vol. 12, January 5, 2006

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS
  1. CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS ARE GOING UP
    Have you budgeted?
  2. DEFAULT INTEREST RATE OR PENALTY RATE
    You'll be surprised at the rate and reasons for imposing
  3. OFFICES THAT HANDLE COMPLAINTS
    Know which offices to complain to
  4. HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT
    Understand the steps that are involved
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#1. CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS ARE GOING UP
Have you budgeted for higher payments?

New federal regulations require that payments on credit cards must go up. However, the rules are complicated and there seems to be no way to predict exactly how much you will pay.

The cards I have seen recently have increased their payments to 1% of the principle plus the interest and any other charges like over limit charges.

By the end of the year payments may be even more than they are in January 2006 as much as double the payment in December 2005.



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#2. DEFAULT INTEREST RATE OR PENALTY RATE
You may be surprised at the rate and the reasons for imposing


Do you know the default or penalty rate on your credit card? It is now as much as 31% for Bank America, Chase and Citibank. This high interest rate can be triggered by a variety of factors such as a late payment, an over limit charge or a deterioration in your credit score. It can even be triggered by a late payment on a different card only one day late!

I made a call to a large credit card company and asked them what their default interest rate was. The assistant on the phone could not tell me. She switched me to a supervisor who could not tell me right off the bat. She contacted another person who gave her the answer.

Since the default rate can be imposed for a number of reasons, credit card companies should make this information more readily available as well as the rules that will cause this interest rate to be charged.




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#3. OFFICES THAT HANDLE COMPLAINTS
Know which office to complain to



If you have a problem with a credit card company such as an unwarranted increase in your interest rate, you can file a complaint after you have tried to resolve the problem with the bank. Here are the addresses for complaining. These addresses are important as a complaint to the wrong department is a waste of your time; a complaint to the right department just might get you the results that you are looking for. For example, while complaining to your state attorney general may be a good strategy with most consumer issues, it will generally not be helpful with credit cards.


THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE

Credit cards issued by state banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System
Federal Reserve Board
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
Mail Stop 801
Washington, DC 20551
(202) 452-3693


Credit cards issued by banks with national in the name or N.A. after the name
Comptroller of the Currency
Office of the Ombudsman
Customer Assistance Unit
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010
1 (800) 613-6743 (toll-free)
www.occ.treas.gov

Credit cards issued by state banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Consumer Response Center
2345 Grand Boulevard, Suite 100
Kansas City, MO 64108
1 (877) 275-3342 (toll-free)
www.fdic.gov

Credit cards issued by federal savings and loan associations and federal savings banks
Office of Thrift Supervision
Consumer Programs
1700 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20552
1 (800) 842-6929 (toll-free)
www.ots.treas.gov

Credit cards associated with federal credit unions
National Credit Union Administration
Office of External Affairs
1775 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3428
(703) 518-6330
www.ncua.gov

Credit cards issued by finance companies or stores, and matters related to auto dealers, mortgage companies, and credit bureaus
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
6th and Pennsylvania, NW
Washington, DC 20580
1 (877)-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) (toll-free)
www.ftc.gov



#4. HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT
Understand the steps that are involved


THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM THE FEDERAL RESERVE:
www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/complaints


Before writing or calling the Federal Reserve, we encourage consumers to try to settle the problem with the financial institution first. This may involve directly contacting senior bank management or the bank's customer service representative for assistance. If you are still unable to resolve the problem, you may file a written complaint with the Federal Reserve including the following information:
* Your name, address and daytime telephone number, including area code;
* Name and address of the bank involved in your complaint or inquiry;
* Your bank or credit card account number;
* The name of the person you contacted at the bank, along with the date, if applicable;
* Description of the complaint. State what happened, giving the dates involved and the names of those you dealt with at the bank. Include copies of any letters or other documents that may help us to investigate your complaint. Please do not send original documents, copies are preferred; and remember to sign and date your letter.

It's important to give us as much information about the problem as possible; this will assist us in providing a quicker response to you.

Where to Send Complaints
Send your complaint to:

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
20th and C Streets, N.W., Stop 801
Washington, DC 20551

For further information you may call us at (202) 452-3693



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