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Living with the Credit Card Act, Part I

I have a friend whom I'll call Bob because that is his name. Bob is bipolar, lives in a group adult home, and was the boyfriend of my mentally ill sister who passed away two summers ago. He receives a $720 monthly disability benefit check from the government, about $600 of which goes to the group home to pay for his room and board, the other $120 is his allowance for cigarettes, snacks and such; this is deposited in his checking account with a major bank. Bob has debit and credit cards from this

I have a friend whom I'll call Bob because that is his name. Bob is bipolar, lives in a group adult home, and was the boyfriend of my mentally ill sister who passed away two summers ago. He receives a $720 monthly disability benefit check from the government, about $600 of which goes to the group home to pay for his room and board, the other $120 is his allowance for cigarettes, snacks and such; this is deposited in his checking account with a major bank. Bob has debit and credit cards from this bank that until today have permitted him to withdraw money that he doesn't have, and then have charged him $35 a day in overdraft fees. In a matter of days, Bob would owe more than a month's income and would call me in great mental distress (guess who ended up paying these fees as well as the large credit card bills he racked up and had no means of paying). I have called the bank to suggest that Bob's card terms be changed to block overdrafts, and have been told that because I'm not Bob's legal guardian I have no say in any of the conditions of his account - that's fair enough.So this is what seems good about the Credit Card Act that takes effect today: Bob's bank will no longer be allowed to let Bob overdraw and charge him large fees each time he does so. He simply won't be allowed to withdraw money he doesn't have. (To see the statement President Obama issued about the Credit Act today, click here.)

But there are two sides to every story and most man-made laws have some onerous or unhelpful provisions. Over the next few weeks we'll be talking to some of you about the efforts you've made to accommodate the Credit Card Act and its affect on your business. If you'd like to share your story or your thoughts, please write to [email protected]

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