The credit card law enacted last spring to end some industry abuses has indirectly prompted other anti-consumer practices, according to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending.
"Faced with pending and proposed reforms designed to protect consumers from a series of unfair charges, credit card issuers have established or expanded the use of at least eight hidden charges across more than four hundred million accounts," according to "Dodging Reform: As Some Credit Card Abuses Are Outlawed, New Ones Proliferate," which the nonprofit consumer advocacy group published Thursday.
Though the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which President Obama signed in May, reined in "the hidden and deceptive pricing strategies that had been the most costly to credit card users," the advocacy group's report found that "some issuers appear to be working to compensate for part of this lost revenue by instituting or accelerating new practices that increase hidden costs on consumers."
Such practices, including "the gaming of interest rates using multiple tactics" and "the deceptive structure of penalty fees," were not forbidden by the pending law or by rules that the Federal Reserve adopted a year ago.
As a result, the report argued, a consumer financial protection agency is needed to protect people against evolving industry practices that benefit issuers at the expense of consumers. "The need for a proactive consumer protection agency, a real-time monitor for the marketplace, is clearly demonstrated by [the] industry's actions," it said.