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Monday, October 14, 2019   
 

Providian Raised My APR to 29.99%
by Scott Bilker
Scott Bilker is the author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt, Credit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. He's also the founder of DebtSmart.com. More about and DebtSmart can be found in the online media kit.
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Scott Bilker

Scott,
I was shocked to learn my Providian credit card raised my APR from 23.99 to 29.99. I've never missed a payment or been late. I called to find out why and the rep told me they mailed out a notice of change in terms. I said I never received the notice. They basically said too bad, but we can mail you out another one. I was so angry I closed my account. I waited for the promised re-mail of the notice. It never came. I called again, this time asking to speak with a supervisor. I calmly explained the situation, reminding them I've never missed a payment or been late, not even once. They said there was nothing they could do, except mail me the new terms. Still, another billing period and no terms. I called again, this time demanding my rate be lowered to the original 23.99, because I never received the terms. They said they would mail the terms again. 

Now, I just received an insulting letter from them informing me that my request to lower the interest was denied because I closed the account too late. The letter went on to say this was all outlined in the notice they mailed to me in February. I have yet to receive the notice!! I don't even think the notice exists. Another family member has this card, with a closed account, and Providian never changed his rate. I feel singled out. Is it legal for them to change the terms without any notice?? What are my options to fight this?? If they are in violation of a law, who can I report this to (I live in Las Vegas)?? Please help!! 
--Claudette

Claudette,

Thanks for writing!

What has happened to you is has become very common. I have also been receiving more and more notices with changes in terms.

The deal is that you can decline to accept some of these term changes and it won't affect your account. For example, I have received many term changes regarding arbitration. If you don't decline the terms then you give up your right to bring them to court under certain conditions. For more on that read my article, Giving Up Your Rights--Without Knowing It! 

However, if you decline other changes, for example rate changes, then the bank will close your account and you'll have to repay under your original terms. Of course, you would have had to reply by their arbitrary deadline. To see the legal details you'll need to look at the original terms from your account agreement with Providian.

I also have a Providian credit card and in my 10/5/1998 Account Agreement it states: "CHANGES. After we provide you any notice required by law, we may change any part of this Agreement and add or remove requirements. If a change is made to the Finance Charges section of this Agreement, the new finance charge calculation will apply to your entire Account balance from the effective date of the change. Changes will apply to balances that include items posted to your Account before the date of the change and will apply whether or not you continue to use the Account."

The way I'm reading that is that they can basically do what they want. I guess the only argument you can make is that they have not yet "provided you" with a notice. If you want to bust chops you could try calling and asking them for proof that they mailed it because you have yet to receive the notice. Then make them send it to you by signature delivery like FedEx or Express Mail. Tell them that they have not yet "provided the notice required by law" and they cannot make any changes until they do provide that notice.

If the rep or supervisor cannot help then ask for "an officer of the bank."

You need to punish them! Teach them a lesson! You already closed the account but that's not enough! You must get a better rate, and let's face it, 23.99% is a crazy-high rate!

Apply for a new credit card and transfer the balance from that Providian card. Do it right away!

Check out my article, Getting better, cheaper credit--right now! and apply for a new credit card. Be sure to do a balance transfer from that high rate when you do the application. This will get rid of that high rate as well as increasing your chances of getting approved.

Lastly, you can make a complaint to: 

1) The Office of the Controller of the Currency (OCC), 1-800-613-6743
2) The Federal Trade Commission
3) The Better Business Bureau

Good luck and please let me know what happens!

Regards, 
Scott

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