Thursday, May 21, 2009

Credit Card Reform

Despite credit card reforms that are scheduled to take place in 2010, Congress has passed a new reform bill that addresses many unfair and deceptive practices perpetrated by credit card companies. Some of the key components:

Creditors cannot increase the annual percentage rate (APR) during the first 12 months of opening up an account.

Creditors are required to provide consumers with a 45-day advance notice of changes in rates and significant contract changes.

Credit card issuers are prohibited from charging a finance charge based on double billing cycle methods.

Creditors are required to provide a grace period for payments.

Creditors are prohibited from opening a credit card account for any college student who does not have any verifiable annual gross income or already maintains a credit card account with that creditor.

Not surprisingly, credit card companies are not happy with having to show some accountability. They much prefer their current carte blanche status. But don't cry for them. They've already laid out their new plans for going after those with great credit by adding or increasing annual fees, cutting or eliminating cash back and reward programs, and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period. I mean, why should credit card companies have to take a hit after decades of abusive practices?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Notarizing Documents In A Foreign Language

I recently received a troubling phone call from an individual who was trying to get a notarization done. The document was written in Spanish. She went to UPS and was told that they could not notarize a document in another language. She went to her bank and was told the same thing. Unfortunately, neither UPS nor her bank have even a basic understanding of a notarization. You don't notarize a document, you notarize a signature. A notary's duty is to identify the signer and witness the signature. The contents of the document is irrelevant as is the language of the document. The notary has no responsibility to understand the contents and there's nothing in the Michigan Statute (I'd guess nothing in any state's statute) that indicates that a document must be in English. For all we care, the document could be written in Klingon. Does the signer understand the document? Great, don't play lawyer. Add the appropriate loose certificate, jurat or acknowledgment, identify the signer, witness the signature, and you've done your job.