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ICBA: Congress Should Use Caution When Weighing Credit Card Practice Legislation

Washington, D.C. (February 12, 2009)—The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) urges Congress to use caution when considering legislation to address unfair credit card practices to avoid the unintended consequences that additional burdens would have on community banks and their customers.

“While we agree that a small number of card issuers have engaged in practices that are harmful to consumers, remedies should focus on encouraging consumer choice, transparency, and disclosure,” said Karen Thomas, ICBA executive vice president and director of government relations. ICBA made its comments in response to today's Senate Banking Committee hearing entitled “Modernizing Consumer Protection in the Financial Regulatory System: Strengthening Credit Card Protections.”

“We recognize that this hearing again brought to light unfair practices exhibited by a handful of credit card issuers. However, we note that the Federal Reserve has adopted a final regulation that addresses these practices and requires improved, more easily understood disclosures to help consumers choose among providers. Legislation runs the risk of imposing additional costs and burdens on community bankers who did not engage in practices that led to the current economic crisis. It would also result in fewer and more expensive sources of credit for all Americans,” said Thomas.

Community banks want to provide their customers with a full range of services, including credit cards, and they work to build a relationship with their customers based on trust.