Last year, I signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act into law to put a stop to deceptive credit card practices and hold credit card companies accountable to their customers. Yesterday, the final reform provisions of the CARD Act took effect. As of today, consumers will be protected against unreasonable fees and penalties for late payments, as well as unfair practices involving gift cards. This law will also make the terms of credit cards more understandable and puts a stop to hidden over-the-limit fees and other practices designed to trap consumers. It restricts rate increases that apply retroactively to old balances. And the CARD Act prevents companies from increasing rates within the first year an account is opened.
In addition, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act I signed into law last month will empower a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with just one job: looking out for consumers in our financial system. This includes making sure that credit card reforms are implemented forcefully and that big banks and lenders are living up to their responsibilities under the law. And in the wake of a terrible recession, these reforms and this independent consumer watchdog will not only protect consumers, they'll strengthen our economy as a whole, leveling the playing field for responsible lenders and ensuring that families and small business owners are better able to make financial decisions that work for them.