Rep. Capuano Sponsors Legislation Protecting Consumers from Credit Card Abuses

March 2, 1999 -- 8th District Representative Michael Capuano today signed on as an original sponsor of the Consumer Credit Card Protection Amendments of 1999. The legislation, introduced by Congressman John LaFalce, creates a host of new consumer protections.

Americans receive credit card solicitations virtually every day. Many of these offers include tempting introductory rates and special convenience checks to access new credit lines. Today's legislation requires credit card companies to provide consumers with clearer and more accurate information so that they may make more informed decisions, Congressman Capuano stated.

The proposed amendments would put the following protections in place:

  • Requiring credit card companies to advertise permanent interest rates and other conditions of use as prominently as low introductory rates designed to attract customers; companies would also be required to prominently display payment due dates, late payment fees and any additional charges associated with the use of so called "convenience checks";
  • Prohibiting penalties for on-time payments and preventing card issuers from canceling an account or imposing additional charges on card holders who pay off their monthly balances in full,
  • Prohibiting the issuing of credit cards to individuals under the age of 21 without prior parental consent or proof of payment ability;
  • Allowing consumers to respond to interest rate increases by canceling their account and paying off the remaining balance under the terms in effect before the increase;
  • Eliminating the inactivity fee many issuers charge card holders who may not use their account during a particular billing cycle but still carry a balance subject to interest charges.

"This legislation creates protections for consumers struggling under a growing debt burden and eliminates penalties for consumers who pay their balances in full each month. Congress can and should enact these simple steps," concluded Congressman Capuano.