The Enlightenment of the Credit Card Industry
Letter to the Editor:
The last couple of years the United States economy has encountered a severe recession. Major corporations have found new ways to cut costs, sports franchises have laid off office staff and credit card companies have devised new ways of inventing revenue streams.
Over the past year, I have had two stand-offs with credit card companies. Chase credit card services refused to reverse frivolous fees until I sent them a certified letter with a return receipt simply asking "please explain my charges in detail." The next letter was a credit for each and every meaningless charge (late fee, finance charges, etc…). Earlier this year, I had a similar run-in with Juniper credit card services (backed by Barclay Bank). From the end of May until today, it is still up in the air (I have been told my account balance will be eradicated and returned to a -0- balance) but I have steadfastly demanded these outlandish charges be wiped off the books. I have been told three times it has/will be but as of yet, they are still up to their tricks.
I would like to share some tips I learned on how to combat credit card companies and to be aware of their "new wave" tactics. I first called the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/ftc/contact.shtm). I called the main office in Washington D.C. and the regional Office in Atlanta. After two weeks, I received a call. The person stated, "The FTC does not regulate banks" but offered another institution to call.
The person at the FTC recommended I call the Office of Comptroller of Currency (1-800-613-6743). Thankfully they were very easy to get a hold of but were of no help. The informant said, "We do not regulate banks but I can tell you who does. It is the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The FDIC both regulates and insures the banks in the United States." (And credit card branches if they are tied in with an American bank; which a vast majority are.) This person was correct. When I called the FDIC (1-877-275-3342, www.fdic.gov hours: 8am-8pm EST) Sabrina confirmed what I was told. The FDIC indeed insure and regulate the banks in America. I explained my quandary and they directed me to a complaint form to send in (https://www2.fdic.gov/starsmail/index.asp). They told me to "send your information/complaint in and we will call you for any further documentation which would be needed." My complaint is currently in this stage.
The reason why I am writing this is I know I am not the only one who is trying to be railroaded by credit card companies. If you feel you are being unfairly treated, I recommend the steps mentioned. If you wish to write the credit card company and dispute charges be sure not to send it to the P.O. Box address you send your payment. You will have no proof it arrived. Send it to the home office (it is easier than you think to search for their home address on-line; you will not be given the home office address by just calling the 1-800 or 1-877 number) certified mail and return receipt. That gives proof it was sent and received. That would be very important documentation if/when you file a complaint with the FDIC or are forced to appear in a court of law to dispute garnishments.
In my opinion, I do not think most credit card companies desire to take a client to court; especially, if the client is in the right. Scare tactics may be applied hoping to scare you into paying something. They may claim your non-payment has affected your credit rating. If that actually comes to pass, tell them to take it off. They may claim they can not but whoever applied it, can also remove it. Standing up to them scares them. The reason one person can scare them is an old fashioned "word-of-mouth." If one person can inform 1,000 others how to complain and to not put up with negative treatment… how many can those 1,000 tell?
In closing I would like to pose a few questions for the readers to ponder. If the FDIC insures and regulates the banks… who regulates the FDIC? Is the FDIC looking out for the banks benefit more than the American public's benefit? Does the FDIC have a special interest as playing on both ends of the spectrum with banks? I will depart with a quote from C.S. Lewis, "If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To `see through' all things is the same as not to see".
- Jerry Keys, Cleveland, TN