Are you using Credit Card Act resources like you should?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 By

A young man views his credit card statement with a tinge of horror in his eye.

If your credit card statement is this frightening, take advantage of the provisions of the Credit Card Act. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Jason Rogers/Flickr)

In 2009, President Obama signed the Credit Card Act into law. One of the provisions of the law is that credit card companies, in conjunction with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, must provide resources for consumers who have difficulty with their finances. While they’ve held up their end of the bargain, recent NFCC studies have found that consumers simply aren’t taking advantage, reports Bankrate.

Free credit counseling, fallen by the wayside

Only 150,000 U.S. consumers struggling with credit card debt have accessed the nonprofit help to which banks and the NFCC have access, said NFCC spokeswoman Gail Cunningham. The contact number is toll-free and printed on credit card statements. As credit card debit still weighs heavily on the average, recession-weary American, the lack of initiative is troubling.

“I certainly think one of the reasons for the low response rate from consumers could be attributed to a lack of prominence,” said Cunningham. “Perhaps the number is buried somewhere.”

Within the recesses of public prejudice might be where that number is buried. Experts believe that many consumers who see the toll-free Credit Card Act number on their credit card statement may think it’s yet another “service” from the big, bad credit card company to take their money. However, Cunningham has observed that the number has been absent from some statements, which would be a violation of law.

Credit card debt shrunk in 2010

A study by Credit Karma indicates that from January to December, U.S. consumer credit card debt decreased by 8 percent nationally, to an average of $7,404 per person. Eight states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Nevada, showed as much as an 11 percent improvement.Wisconsin made the biggest dent in credit card debt, slashing and burning through the credit jungle for a 31-percent improvement over 2009.

On the other side of the scale, states like Delaware, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska and New Mexico grew their credit card debt by as much as 6 percent. Mississippi was the biggest loser in the Credit Karma Survey, with 8 percent growth.

Looking for credit card help?

Visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website at nfcc.org for the information on non-profits near you that can help. The Federal Reserve’s website also has a free calculator with which you can calculate how much you’ll owe if you only make the minimum monthly payment on your credit card. For your mobile, there’s a useful Android Market app called Personal Financial Calculator. Or, if you are looking to compare overdraft APRs of installment loans and other consumer loan products, check out our “Loan Overdraft Calculator,” linked below.

Sources

Android Market: Personal Financial Calculator

Bankrate.com

Federal Reserve

Loan overdraft calculator

National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Obama signed the Credit Card Act. Are you using its programs?

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