Washington - Los usuarios de tarjetas de crédito cada día están más molestos por los incrementos en las tasas de intereses implementados por las compañías de tarjetas de crédito que reciben dinero de los contribuyentes. Es por esto que el senador Robert Menendez (D-NJ), envió hoy una carta al Departamento del Tesoro, instando a la administración a que imponga límites a estas compañías en la implementación de aumentos unilaterales en las tasas de intereses y otras prácticas no beneficiosas para el consumidor. Durante la administración pasada, Menendez, miembro del Comité de la Banca del Senado, había hecho un llamado al entonces secretario de la Tesorería Henry Paulson y el presidente de la Reserva Federal Ben Bernanke a que hiciesen lo mismo (http://menendez.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=305251).

"Ahora que las familias están reduciendo sus gastos y estirando cada dólar durante estos difíciles momentos económicos, lo último que necesitan es lidiar con más trucos y prácticas engañosas de su compañía de tarjeta de crédito," escribió Menendez. "Protecciones más efectivas para el consumidor, la prohibición del defalco universal, y exigirles a las compañías que las penalidades sean relativas al costo, deben ser prerrequisitos para las compañías que quieran beneficiarse de la ayuda del gobierno. Estas reformas lógicas no solo aliviarían la carga de los consumidores, también pondrían fin a prácticas que han llevado a tantas personas al borde de la bancarrota."

Formato PDF de carta al Departamento del Tesoro: http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/042009GeithnerCreditCardLetter.pdf

Texto de la carta:

April 20, 2009

The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner
Secretary of the Treasury
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Geithner:

In November, when your predecessor and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced a plan to use federal money to purchase credit-card backed securities, I urged them to attach consumer-protection requirements to these funds (see attached letter), including prohibiting unilateral interest rate increases and requiring penalties and fees be reasonably tied to cost incurred by the card issuer.
Unfortunately, my office has recently been inundated by calls and letters from New Jersey residents who have seen their interest rates shoot up even though they continue to make their payments on time every month. They are very angry about this and have every right to be. This is not risk-based pricing; rather, it is merely a way for issuers to recover losses they are incurring at the expense of consumers. As families tighten their belts and stretch every dollar during these tough economic times, the last thing they need to deal with is unexpected and unjustified practices from their credit card company.

To add further insult to injury, many of these same credit card issuers have received billions of taxpayer dollars in emergency assistance. For these same companies to turn around and exploit the very taxpayers who rescued them from the brink of insolvency is outrageous and offensive.

I am certainly encouraged by the reports that the Obama administration will soon be aggressively tackling credit card issues, and I look forward to those actions. I strongly believe that any government intervention must make helping consumers its central focus and ultimate objective. Stronger consumer protections, such as prohibiting unilateral rate increases, ending universal default, and requiring that penalty rates and fees be reasonably tied to cost, should be prerequisites for any issuers who wish to benefit from government assistance. These commonsense reforms will not only relieve some of the pressure on consumers, they will also end some of the most egregious practices that have forced so many people to the brink of bankruptcy.

With default rates skyrocketing, and Americans holding almost $1 trillion in credit card debt, it is now more urgent than ever that we protect consumers from egregious and unfair practices. The American people cannot afford to wait over a year for the Federal Reserve regulations to take effect - they need to be protected immediately. That is why I again urge you to attach consumer protections as a condition for firms that accept taxpayer assistance. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing your response.


United States Senator