21 November 2009

Corporate Greed Is Alive and Well In America

Here's an article I came across today. It just goes to show that some large companies haven't learnt any lessons over the past year or so and clearly show they don't care about the public, all they want is to have huge profits at the expense of people's lives, kicking them, while they are down.
Don't get me wrong, any company needs to make a profit, but many financial companies have taken Government bailouts to survive, but still do little to nothing to help its' customers.  This mentality of GREED, is what caused the recession in the first place and clearly isn't getting better for main street.

Millions of Americans already battling the suffocating economy are getting a flurry of mail from credit-card issuers telling them, just in time for holiday shopping, that their interest rate is headed skyward.
For many, the rates are doubling, even tripling, leaving cash-strapped and credit-starved Americans staring at harder times ahead.
Still others are seeing longtime fixed rates flipped to variable rates tied to a market index that's likely to pitch them into double-digit interest in no time.
Much of the activity — rate hikes, lower credit limits, boosts of minimum monthly payments among them — seems to be pegged to new federal rules set to kick in gear in late February that will severely constrain banks and credit-card issuers from predatory practices of the past, according to experts who track the industry.
The trend is bearing out in several new consumer surveys that say credit-card users are increasingly faced with unsavory choices ranging from accepting near-impossible credit terms on accounts with already high balances, to closing accounts and limiting consumers' credit availability.
A survey from Rasmussen Reports found that half of its respondents have been slapped with rate hikes in the past six months. Another by Credit.com found that nearly a third of Americans had rates boosted unexpectedly, nearly double the number from a previous analysis just six months ago.
And at a time when banks have suffered a severe setback in consumer confidence, those actions are not being greeted warmly, industry experts say.
"It seems like they're hurting the customers they need the most," said Travis Plunkett, legislative director for the Consumer Federation of America, an advocacy group. "What the industry needs most is trust, having lost it to the traps and tricks they've used for years, but they seem to be betraying it even further."
Some tricks now include designing notices of interest-rate changes as junk mail.
"There's no law that mandates a standard on how those notifications are to be sent out," said Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research at CreditCards.com. "The banks love nothing more for it to be thrown away."
Fearful the rules might hamstring banks' ability to make money — profits from credit-card penalty fees are expected to top $20.9 billion this year alone — card issuers are being pushed to increase rates quickly. Though the national average is at 13.7 percent, according to the Federal Reserve, that's now changing.
And everyone is being affected, from those with the poorest credit to those with the best.
"It's not just counterintuitive but shortsighted," Plunkett said. "People who have really done nothing wrong are finding themselves with higher rates."
The new laws are to begin in February, though some rules kicked in this summer. The law — the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or Credit CARD Act — is designed to provide consumers with access to credit on terms that are fair and more easily understood.
It bans abusive credit-card practices, enhances disclosure to cardholders and protects underage consumers. It also protects consumers by barring unreasonable interest-rate increases and fees, and requires monthly disclosures of how much interest you've paid to date.
Efforts to push the effective date to December passed the House last week but stalled this week in the Senate.

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