Cambridge Credit Reminds Consumers That Understanding Credit is Their Best Defense

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The proposed “Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights” may protect consumers, but becoming a financially literate society would help even more.

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It may sound cliché, but knowledge really is power

Many Americans have been directly affected by the housing crisis over the past two years, and almost all of us are feeling the effects of higher prices and tighter creditor policies. Recent statistics indicate that many consumers have begun relying on their credit cards more often to meet their day-to-day expenses. Not surprisingly, credit card debt has spiked - the national personal total is approaching $1 trillion dollars - and account delinquencies are on the rise. There may be no better time to enact a Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights, and that’s precisely what Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has put before Congress.

“The Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act of 2008 is needed to protect consumers,” notes Christopher Viale, president and CEO of Cambridge Credit Counseling, a Massachusetts-based agency that assists financially troubled individuals nationwide. “This type of legislation can help ensure the economic prosperity of all Americans by shielding them from potentially harmful consequences they may not understand.”

Some of the key provisions of the Act include:

Elimination of Universal Default policies – A creditor would no longer be able to change the terms of its agreement with a cardholder if late payments are made to other lenders.

Arbitrary increases in interest rates minimized – A creditor would only be able to increase its rates as stipulated in the original contract with the cardholder.

Advanced notice of intended rate increases – If a creditor wants to increase the interest rate charged on an account, it would have to inform the cardholder at least 45 days in advance, and allow for the consumer to decline the increase by canceling the account. The balance would then have to be repaid at the interest rate currently being charged.

Over-limit management – Consumers would be able to prohibit their creditors from extending credit beyond the original terms of their contract, thus eliminating over-limit fees.

Elimination of double-cycle billing – Double-cycle billing allows a creditor to charge interest on the cardholder’s average daily balance by including the purchases from that billing cycle and those from the month before.

Sufficient notice of payment – Creditors would be required to mail statements at least 25 days in advance of the cardholder’s due date.

“It may sound cliché, but knowledge really is power,” commented Viale. “While this legislation is long overdue, so is the need for financial literacy. Many of the people in trouble today could have avoided difficulty if they knew the fundamentals of personal finance.”

Cambridge offers a host of FREE financial literacy materials at its http://www.goodpayer.com website. Individuals are encouraged to visit the site to download Cambridge’s Learn Now or Pay Later guides. Currently, these guides are offered in two versions – one for adults, and one for young adults. In addition, Cambridge offers a variety of financial literacy videos on its YouTube page, which can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/CambridgeCredit.

About Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp.:
Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. is a professional credit counseling agency, dedicated to educating young adults on the importance of sound financial management and to providing financially distressed Americans with education and debt management services appropriate to their needs. For more information on this article or to schedule an interview, please call 413-821-6919.

Visit Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. online at http://www.cambridgecredit.org. To learn more about Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. and the community, please visit http://www.youtube.com/CambridgeCredit. For more helpful information, check out Cambridge’s financial literacy blog at http://www.cambridgecredit.blogspot.com.

Contact:
Thomas Fox
Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp.
413.821.6919
tfox @ cambridgecredit.org

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