Maine’s Bureau of Financial Institutions Provides Details about New Credit Card Regulations

State Regulators Serve as Resource for Consumers

GARDINER, MAINE – Superintendent Lloyd P. LaFountain III from Maine’s Bureau of Financial Institutions provided details about new federal credit card regulations that became effective on Monday.  He encouraged consumers to contact the Bureau at 1-800-965-5235 with any questions or concerns regarding the new regulations.

“Maine’s Bureau of Financial Institutions serves as a resource to consumers on a range of issues, including questions about credit cards,” Superintendent LaFountain commented.  “Anyone seeking information or guidance should contact the Bureau.”

The Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights establishes a variety of new restrictions on credit card issuers and new protections for many consumers, including:

  • No interest rate increases during the first 12 months of opening a credit card, unless the rate increase was disclosed when the credit card account was initially opened.
  • Promotional rates must last at least 6 months and the interest rate that will apply thereafter must be disclosed.

  • No interest rate increases on pre-existing balances.  If a card issuer decides to increase the interest rate, that new rate would only apply to new balances.  Current balances would continue to be subject to the old interest rate.  (If a card holder becomes more than 60 days late on credit card payments, this new regulation does not apply)
  • Credit card issuers must give a 45-day advanced notice before increasing interest rates or making other major changes to a credit card agreement  and provide the cardholder with the right to opt out of these changes.  This is an increase from the previous 15-day advanced notice requirement.

  • Increased rates must be reviewed and lowered if the review shows changes.  Credit card issuers can no longer raise rates to the default rate and leave it there even though a card holder’s payment habits have improved.
  • Credit card issuers are prohibited from issuing a credit card to consumers who are not yet 21 years old unless the the application includes the signature of a co-signer who is at least 21 years old or the application includes information that the consumer has the ability to make the required payments.

Additionally, according to Superintendent LaFountain, the new regulations will make it more difficult for credit card companies to charge “over the limit” fees (unless a cardholder signs up for them in advance) and prohibit credit card companies from charging for payments made online or over the phone.

“As always, the Bureau’s message to consumers is to read credit card agreements, to understand the terms, and to contact us anytime questions or concerns arise.  Maine’s Bureau of Financial Institutions is here to serve consumers,” LaFountain concluded.

The Bureau of Financial Institutions is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through impartial and efficient regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.  Consumers can reach the Bureau through the Department’s website (www.maine.gov/pfr); by calling 1-800-965-5235 or writing Bureau of Financial Institutions, 36 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: