JIS News

There has been an increase in the number of complaints and queries about credit cards, the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) has reported.
Director of Research, Information and Communication at the CAC, Raymond Pryce told JIS News that the increase in the number of calls to the CAC reflected the growth in electronic transactions in Jamaica. “As credit cards become more popular as a means of transacting business, then you would also expect that the queries and complaints pertaining to credit card use will also increase. The use of credit cards has just continued to increase exponentially over the last several months,” Mr. Pryce said.
He added that persons were attracted to credit cards because of the convenience in shopping and because they offered the opportunity to acquire goods that could not be afforded at a particular point in time. Additionally, he said that some persons used the cards to help tide them over to their next pay cheque.
Mr. Pryce noted that queries and complaints about credit cards heightened around the Christmas shopping period last year. “Between then (Christmas) and now we have had over 100 queries either via e-mail or telephone calls on the matter,” he added.
He pointed out that the complaints related to the level and frequency of interest charges that are levied on the cards. He noted that in tracking credit card consumer-related issues, the CAC’s Knowledge Behaviour and Attitude Study revealed that more should be done to educate persons on the use and management of credit cards.
According to the CAC Director, some cardholders were not sufficiently informed about parameters, such as late fees, membership fees, penalties and interest charges that govern credit card usage. He said that persons were concerned about the high cost associated with the use of their credit cards, and that the public needed to be aware of how the various interest fees and charges were added up and compounded over time.
He pointed out that credit card interest rates in Jamaica could be as high as 30 to 45 per cent. He advised that persons should ensure that they get as much information as possible on the features that apply to their particular card, so they might better manage their account. In addition, the Director said that the CAC would be educating persons on the proper use of credit cards.
Mr. Pryce said that in assessing the various banks in Jamaica, the CAC found no instances of unfair practices, but was concerned about the level of information that the banks were giving to their customers. Therefore, the Commission has been encouraging the customer service section of banks to ensure that they adequately inform their clients.

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