There are many federal laws that protect you when using a credit card:
The Consumer Credit Protection Act (1969) includes the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Truth in Lending Act:
The Truth in Lending Act (1968) requires that lenders use uniform methods for computing the cost of credit and for disclosing credit terms so you can tell how much it will cost to borrow money. It also limits your liability to $50 if your credit card is lost, stolen, or used without your authorization, and it prohibits the unsolicited issuance of credit cards.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (1970) protects you against inaccurate or misleading information in credit files maintained by credit reporting agencies. It requires that you must be told what's in your credit file and have the ability to correct any errors.
- The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974) prohibits discrimination in credit transactions on the basis of certain personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, because you receive public assistance, or because you've exercised your rights under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.
- The Fair Credit Billing Act (1974) requires that a credit card company promptly credits your payments and corrects mistakes on your bill without damage to your credit score. It also lets you dispute billing errors on your credit card and withhold payment for damaged goods.
Many provisions of the Credit CARD Act, The Fair Credit Billing Act and the Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosures Act were later additions to the Truth in Lending Act:
- The Credit CARD Act (2009) brought many new protections for cardholders. Perhaps most importantly, the law prohibits card issuers from increasing the rate on your existing balance and requires that they notify you 45 days before increasing your interest rate on new transactions. It also places limits on fees and interest rate increases and requires consistency in payment dates and times. The CARD Act rules are incorporated in the Truth in Lending Act. Click here for more details on the CARD Act.
- The Fair Credit and Charge Card Disclosure Act (1988) requires a lender offering you a credit card to tell you about certain terms on the card, such as the APR, the amount of any annual fee, and whether you have an interest-free period to pay your bill before any interest charges are added.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (1977) details the rules a debt collector must follow when trying to collect a debt from you. It prohibits collectors from engaging in abusive debt-collection practices, such as calling you outside of the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time or communicating with you at work after they have been advised that this is unacceptable or prohibited by the employer.
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