A number of credit card holders have been finding that their banks have dramatically altered their carefully managed financial affairs, often without warning. One card holder relayed the following story:
We got an email this morning from our credit card company which we have been with for years and years. They cut our available balance in half, right down to within $50 of what we owe. Fifty bucks! We have never been late on a payment, and we always pay double the minimum payment as soon as the bill is due. We don't have a mortgage or a car payment, and this is really our only debt.
This change was effective immediately. We had to sit down and figure out how much we have to pay this week so that the interest doesn't make us go over the available balance for the first time ever!
We are a little peeved. OK, a lot peeved. And now we want to pay this off and thumb our noses at the stupid credit card company, close our account, and move our business to another company where they are nice and not money hungry ogres trying to force people into default."
This scenario is happening with millions of cardholders across the country. Shouldn't credit card issuers have the courtesy to inform you via snail mail and give you a thirty-day grace period before implementing major changes to your credit line? Why can’t you have a window of opportunity to move your business elsewhere? According to the Wall Street Journal, Visa Inc. posted a 16% increase in fiscal first-quarter profit as the credit-card processor continued to benefit from consumers' increased use of credit cards. Cardholders have dramatically increased their use of Visa's credit and debit cards, driving up the volume of transactions it processed 8% to 13.6 billion. http://online.wsj.com/...
Many consumers are using credit to buy cars, go back to school or survive job loss. They should not be left to flounder by card issuers who are cutting their limits at will. Consider this next consumer's experience:
Our mortgage company dropped our limit down within a few thousand of what we owe six months ago. It was unsettling. We've been in our house over six years now and have never had a late payment. They said it had something to do with the value of houses going down. It mostly annoys me because your credit score is at least in part based on how much you owe in relation to how much credit you are allowed. They really screwed up our percentage for that one!
When did our financial institutions accrue this kind of power to basically pull the rug out from under customers by cutting their credit lines and ratios, leading to lowered credit ratings, despite the dire financial consequences that would result?
There was a time when consumers were vilified for driving down their credit scores with bad behavior. Now we have entered a new era when banks, mortgage companes and credit card companies will destroy it for you to suit their own agendas. This is wrong. Are customers entitled to at least a modicum of consideration, or are they treated as third class citizens once they access credit?
It is time for the government to stand up for debtors so they can have some parity against these mega powerful financial institutions. For too long the process by which credit is accessed and rated has been subject to abominable abuse by our financial institutions and it must stop. If we as a country are serious about growing jobs and the middle class, these entities can not be allowed to wield this kind of power as it is very detrimental to ordinary Americans, particularly in the midst of this crushing economic downturn.
2:18 PM PT: Thanks to all who recommended this diary and for your likes and tweets. Please read through the comments. Many have shared their own experiences with bankster sleight-of-hand and how they skillfully avoided fees and penalties. Others were not so lucky.