Regulating Credit Cards

By Marcia Clemmitt, October 10, 2008

Are tougher regulations needed to protect consumers?

As home refinancing dries up as a source of cash for many Americans, credit card debt is rising faster than ever. Seeking to protect consumers from serious debt trouble, Congress is discussing the first significant legal restraints on credit card issuers imposed in many years – and possibly the toughest ever. The banking industry argues that most people don’t get into severe financial distress from credit card spending and that a crackdown on fees and other bank practices could dry up the consumer credit that drives the economy. But some consumer advocates say that the approximately 35 million households behind in payments or over their credit limits demonstrate that tough action is needed – including caps on interest rates. Meanwhile, some economists warn that increasing the earning power of working-class families is the only long-term solution to consumer credit woes.

* Should Congress crack down on credit card industry practices?
* Have credit card issuers unfairly targeted vulnerable populations?
* Is credit card debt bad for the country?

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