WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Democratic congresswoman is calling on credit card companies to stop hiking interest rates before President Obama's credit card bill goes into effect next year.
Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colorado, led a group of 18 House members in sending a letter to the country's major credit card companies on Wednesday urging them to avoid "unreasonably raising rates" before Obama's Credit CARD Act goes into effect in February 2010.
"The implementation of these necessary reforms should not be taken as an indication that the industry should take advantage of consumers now before the prohibitions come into effect," Markey said in the letter.
The new bill adds more restrictions on when credit card companies can raise fees and interest rates, and specifically bans them from increasing rates unless a customer is more than 60 days late in paying a bill. But until then, consumers can still face rate hikes - and Markey said constituents told her the practice had picked up speed as the deadline approached.
Democratic Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Barney Frank have pushed for the bill to go into effect earlier to prevent credit card companies from increasing their rates. Markey called the companies' actions "troubling."
"What makes this situation particularly troubling is the fact that the effective date for the majority of the provisions in this legislation was set for February of 2010 to give credit card companies time to implement the new federal regulations – not additional time to violate the spirit of the law by changing the terms of agreements, including raising interest rates on consumers," Markey said in the letter.