Top Credit Card Stories of 2012
American Express had to reimburse an estimated $85 million to nearly 250,000 cardholders who were either misled into paying an old debt because they thought it would be reported to the credit bureaus, promised upfront bonuses from signing up for credit cards, paid illegal late fees or were promised their debt would be forgiven and then denied new credit cards because the debt was not forgiven.
The FTC also cracked down on robocalls that deceived consumers into paying hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars by claiming they could reduce credit card interest rates in return for an upfront fee. Federal judges in Florida and Arizona temporarily shut down five companies that directed these robocalls to consumers. The FTC said these five agencies could have defrauded consumers out of possibly $30 million over the past few years.
5. Monitoring of credit bureaus
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now monitoring credit bureaus to bring transparency and public accountability to credit reporting agencies. This fall, it began monitoring more than 30 of the country's biggest credit bureaus to investigate if they were following the law. This is a big step for the federal government, which has never had widespread access to information about the credit reporting industry. The CFPB will also have oversight over specialty credit reporting companies, including those that focus on payday loans, resell credit reports and analyze credit report information. According to the CFPB, each of the three biggest credit reporting companies maintain files on an estimated 200 million Americans gathered from more than 10,000 providers of information. Approximately 3 billion credit reports are issued annually and more than 36 billion updates are made to consumer credit files.
6. The impact of the CFPB
Cracking down on deceptive telemarketing practices and monitoring credit bureaus shows the power and impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Formed July 21, 2011, the young agency has made strides to help consumers in various ways.
In October, the CFPB proposed a rule to make it easier for stay-at-home spouses to get a credit card by allowing them to rely on shared income when applying for a credit card account, rather than individual income.