Hacker’s Hell: Many want to narrow the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act - Angered that the Internet site PayPal had ceased allowing its users to donate to the controversial online publisher WikiLeaks, 14 computer users allegedly ...
Saturday, February 21, 2009
It's time to pass a National Usury Law
While the treasury and the federal reserve are looking into predatory lending practices of banks, they should also look at usury in connection with credit card fees. Many blame the adjustable rate mortgage for pushing homeowners to the brink of financial ruin and foreclosure. But what about interest rates and late fees charged by banks operating from states that have no usury laws, i.e., South Dakota and Delaware? Interest rates have gone up from a high of 18% in the 1990s to a high of 29.5%. Once upon a time a 29.5% interest rate would have been considered loan sharking. But not today. Late fees have gone up from 5 and 10 dollars charged pre-1996 to $35 to $39 dollars today. Late fees alone generate billions of dollars in revenue for the banks. Even more arbitrary, is what defines a late fee. Some banks impose a fee if your payment doesn't make it by a certain hour on the due date. If you hand deliver your payment to the bank on the day its due and it is past the designated hour you will still be charged a late fee. It's a vicious cycle for cardholders who are already living on the edge and for consumers who use credit cards to supplement their income while they are unemployed or laid-off they are just burying themselves deeper and deeper into a black hole. Where are the Consumer Advocates and why hasn't Congress passed a national usury law to reign in interest rates charged by banks?