Support the Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights

Media 09.23,08

Recipient: U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Representative:

We, the undersigned civil rights organizations, write to express our strong support for
H.R. 5244, the “Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights.” We strongly urge you to support the
bill as reported out of the Financial Services Committee, and oppose any attempt to
weaken it.

The civil rights community has long recognized that equal access to credit is a vital step
in helping minority families to move out of poverty, and into the middle class and greater
financial security. Rising delinquencies in the home, auto, and credit card markets are
putting a strain on working families across the country. Minority families, who are
routine targets for unfair and abusive lending practices, are especially hard-hit. Much
like the targeting and discrimination that occurs with home loans, our communities are
steered toward credit cards with the highest fees and interest rates and most complicated
payment terms. In fact, one report showed that 15% of African-American and 13% of
Latino card users have cards with interest rates over 20%, compared to only 7% of White
card users – many of whom are responding to credit card solicitations with preset terms
and conditions. Other research has shown that most households rely on their credit card
to cover their family budget in times of financial emergencies, such as family car repairs
or medical expenses. Instead of providing relief or a financial bridge, credit cards with
abusive features and practices often create vicious cycles of debt.

Now more than ever, working families need strong fair lending and credit laws.
Americans have flooded the Federal Reserve Board with more than 30,000 credit card
complaints in June and July, urging the Board to make its recent credit card proposals
permanent. H.R. 5244 will codify the Board’s proposals so that they cannot be
weakened. It curbs some of the most arbitrary, abusive, and unfair credit card lending
practices that trap consumers in an unending, costly debt. The tricks and traps addressed
by H.R. 5244 have always been unfair, but in a time of growing economic uncertainty for
the average family, the financial consequences can be devastating.

Although it does not include all of the reforms our communities need, H.R. 5244
incorporates fair, common-sense changes that target the most indefensible credit card
abuses. We urge you to express your support for the strongest version of this legislation.
Should you have any questions, please contact Janis Bowdler, National Council of La
Raza, at (202) 776-1748 or [email protected]. We look forward to working with you on
this and other important matters.

American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association of University Women
American Federation of Teachers
Americans for Democratic Action, Inc.
Asian American Justice Center
Community Action Partnership
Cuban American National Council
Japanese American Citizens League
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Legal Momentum
League of United Latin American Citizens
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Association of Human Rights Workers
National Association of Social Workers
National Congress of Black Women, Inc.
National Council of La Raza
National Federation of Filipino American Associations
National Institute for Latino Policy
United States Student Association