Citibank is dodging newly-enacted federal laws aimed at protecting consumers from unfair credit card company practices. The new law prohibits credit card companies from raising interest rates whenever they like, on short notice or no notice, and for no particular reason. To get around this, Citi mailed out letters announcing it was raising its rates for all of its customers to its bad-creditor rate of 30 percent, and telling customers that they are eligible for a "program" that lowers their interest rate back down to the previous rate they had been paying. The only catch: if they miss a payment their rate will zoom back up to 30 percent immediately and retroactively -- exactly the kind of behavior the law sought to end. Citi believes their behavior is legal because they are calling their new policy a "program" rather than a "rate." Citigroup customers only have only two options: go along with Citi's new "program," or pay off any remaining balance, cancel their credit card and try to find a different company.
By Anne Landman on February 16, 2010