Banks Finally Start to Ease Lending Standards, Fed Reports

Although modestly, big banks are starting to ease lending standards, particularly vital commercial and industrial loans to small businesses, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve. The Fed’s July survey of senior loan officers that examines lending practices for the previous three months found the first “easing of standards on commercial and industrial loans to small firms since late 2006.”

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FTC Rule Bans Upfront Fees on Some Debt Relief Services

A new telemarketing sales rule prohibits for-profit companies that sell debt relief services over the telephone from charging an upfront free, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Starting Oct. 27, these companies must settle or reduce a customers’ credit card or other unsecured debit before collecting a fee.

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Obama: Reform Ends Era of ‘Bad Loans’ That Fueled Crisis

Wall Street Reform was signed into law today by President Obama, promising an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts and a new consumer financial protection agency that will protect Americans from abusive practices in the credit card and mortgage industries. The financial crisis of 2008 prompted calls for sweeping reform, but Obama and Democrats fought Republican opposition through heated debates, negotiations and relentless lobbying.

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Fed Caps Credit Card Penalty Fees at $25 for Non-Repeat Offenders

As part of the final phase of credit card reform, the Federal Reserve today capped penalty fees at $25 per violation, unless the card holder has made repeated violations or the card issuer can show that a higher fee is reasonable. The Fed is also requiring that credit card issuers re-evaluate any interest rate hikes since Jan. 1, 2009 to determine if reasons for the increase have changed “and, if appropriate, to reduce the rate.”

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Will Consumers Win with Regulated Debit Card ‘Swipe’ Fees?

After years of attempting to even get a bill on the floor of Congress, business groups finally saw enough support to draw a bipartisan vote in the Senate for the first-ever regulation over the fees charged merchants by payment networks Visa and MasterCard. In a 64-33 vote, the U.S. Senate Thursday approved an amendment loosening the grip Visa and MasterCard have enjoyed on debit card transaction fees passed on to the banks that carry their cards.

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Senate Bans ‘No Doc’ Loans, Kickbacks in Mortgage Practices

The Senate has approved new rules overhauling some mortgage lending practices which contributed to the housing market meltdown, including banning lender kickbacks to brokers for originating high-cost loans and requiring income documentation from applicants. The rules would effectively end the once popular ‘no doc” or liar loans that were prevalent during the housing bubble build-up.

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MasterCard, Visa Profits Signal Credit Buying Upswing

As consumers started spending more in the first quarter, they were not hesitant to use their credit cards as Visa and MasterCard earnings show, with better than anticipated profits and higher transactions volume. Both exceeded Wall Street analysts’ estimates. The strong showing by the two top card processors reflect a resurgence in consumer spending of 3.6 percent in the first quarter, the biggest surge since early 2007, based on figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department last week.

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