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By timestaff
October 14, 2009

When Congress passed the Credit Card reform bill this past Spring it bowed to industry pressure and delayed enactment of the new regs for nine months. Signed into law in May by President Obama the bulk of the reforms mandated by the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility & Disclosure Act of 2009 won’t take effect until February 22nd, 2010.

Card issuers insisted they needed that time to get their systems set to the new consumer-friendly rules; Congress agreed, with some admonishments that the grace period not devolve into a frenzied fee-grab. But to the surprise of no one seemingly but Congress, the card issuers did just that, using the window to raise interest rates and fees.

“Instead of spending time getting ready for the new law to take effect, the banks have tightened down the thumbscrews on consumers to extract every last unfair dollar from their wallets. They’ve raised APRs, lowered limits, and changed terms of accounts to punish their customers,” said U.S. PIRG’s consumer program director Ed Mierzwinski.

That’s prompted Representatives Barney Frank and Carolyn Maloney to introduce a bill that would speed up the effective date to December 1 of this year. Frank, chair of the House Financial Services committee was quoted by the
Associated Press
: “It is very clear that this is the kind of protection that shouldn’t wait and we should move forward.”

The American Bankers Association issued a statement that speeding up the effective date was not “logistically feasible.” Which is sort of interesting given that Bank of America said on October 5th that it is already complying with the new rules. As reported at
creditcards.com
, Capital One and Discover are also on board. Wells Fargo and Chase went on the record they will not make the switch to the new regs until the scheduled February effective date.

Accelerating the effective date by three months won’t change the fact that the card issuers had seven months to go to town. But maybe this isn’t so much about the effective date of credit card reform as a salvo in what is shaping up to be a heated debate over the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

EDIT POST