NEW JERSEY – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Tuesday requested that the nation’s largest credit card issuers present detailed plans for emergency assistance programs for customers who may face immediate hardship in making timely payments on their credit accounts due to the ongoing pandemic and global economic crisis.
“Many borrowers, at no fault of their own, may face immediate hardship in making timely payments of their debt obligations, including revolving credit accounts. Fees, interest rate payments, and penalties may be levied on these borrowers, further punishing them during the crisis and hampering their ability to pay for necessities and catch up on missed payments,” Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) wrote in a letter today to the CEOs of American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank, Discover, JPMorgan Chase, Synchrony Financial, U.S. Bank, and Wells Fargo. “I acknowledge that some of the institutions addressed in this letter have already made announcements and notified their customers that they will be working to assist them during these trying times.”
“To help me better understand your efforts and guide further legislation, please describe, with suitable detail, emergency assistance programs that your institution has put in place in response to the pandemic and to what extent your institutions are engaging with your clients and customers with programs,” Gottheimer said.
More than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment over the past ten weeks, with a projected unemployment rate nearing 20 percent, according to the most recent reporting from the U.S. Department of Labor, Gottheimer said.
Millions more Americans are still uncounted, working their way through state-level unemployment offices, or are at heightened risk of losing their employment as the crisis continues, even as Congress invests in new programs to help mitigate this ongoing disaster, Gottheimer said.
Gottheimer has asked the credit card issuers to provide information regarding:
- Whether the institution has suspended collecting interest, fees, or penalties;
- Whether credit card forbearance is being offered and, if so, under what terms;
- Whether available credit limits have been increased or reduced for cardholders; and
- What actions have been taken to prevent adverse credit reporting impacts for individuals, including whether consumers are able to utilize disaster codes related to the pandemic.