Mad as hell: Credit card users tell the Fed they're not gonna take it anymore


The Federal Reserve gave consumer a few months to mull over this proposition: Should credit card companies be allowed to raise the rate on debt you already owe? Is it fair for them to constantly reshuffle your debt so you are always paying the highest possible interest rate and the most fees? Should banks keep secret the way to opt out of their overdraft protection plans, where they can charge a huge fee for a tiny overdraft? And can they send you an offer of one rate, then switch you to another?

Guess what? Consumers overwhelmingly hate all these current practices. They think credit card companies should be reigned in. Nearly 20,000 people wrote in on the three parts of the proposal: credit cards, overdrafts and truth in lending rules. Many call for stricter rules and use florid language like "usury."

Also guess what? Banks think the rules are a stupid idea. Bank of America is not just worried about itself, of course. BofA is concerned about the "broad impact on the economy both at the retail level and in highly complex securitization markets, slowing growth and limiting access to financing. To quote Bill Murray: "Dog and cats, living together!"

BusinessWeek's Jessica Silver-Greenberg says that it's the most significant credit card rule change in 20 years. Till now, she writes, regulators were content to simply force banks to clearly disclose their terms (which resulted in those pages of small-type that practically nobody reads). So now regulators and getting around to actually regulating. The comment period ended August 4, (though the comment form is still up).