One of Congresswoman Lowey’s top priorities in Congress is ensuring consumers are protected against unsafe or dishonest financial practices and consumer products.
Abusive Credit Card Practices
Congresswoman Lowey is a leader in ensuring individuals and small businesses are protected against unfair, arbitrary, and anti-competitive credit card practices. As a proud cosponsor of the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights, Lowey supported important new consumer protections, including:
- Requiring credit card companies must notify consumers before raising interest rates;
- Eliminating unnecessary fees and interest charged on debt paid on time;
- Eliminating “universal default” penalties;
- Requiring credit card companies to apply a payment over the minimum to the balance with the highest interest rate; and
- Prohibiting interest rate changes in the first year of the account.
Lowey also fought successfully to force credit card companies to disclose the true cost of making minimum monthly payments; the amount of time necessary to repay the debt if only making the minimum payment; and the amounts of payment required if the debt is to be repaid in three years.
Because small businesses rely on credit cards to meet capital needs, they are also hurt by deceptive credit card practices. Lowey introduced the Small Business Credit Card Act, which would extend these important consumer protections to small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Small businesses should be creating jobs and rejuvenating our economy, not be subject to unfair interest rate changes, deceptive practices, and unnecessary fees.
Protecting Children from Unsafe Toys
Congresswoman Lowey successfully passed legislation requiring choking hazard warning labels are clearly listed on online retail sites and in catalogs, helping to reduce the more than 70,000 toy-related emergency room visits reported every year.
Lowey also cosponsored legislation banning lead beyond minute amounts in children's products; requiring mandatory third-party testing for children's products; requiring tracking labels to aid in recalls; and increasing penalties for safety violations.
Proper Labeling on Consumer Products
After hearing from constituents about the difficulty food-allergic consumers have reading product labels, Lowey authored the first-ever bill mandating clear, concise food allergen labeling. Her legislation was enacted in 2006, requiring food manufacturers to list in plain language on food labels the eight most common food allergens. The New York Times called this bill “an all too rare example … of bipartisan cooperation to serve the public good.”
Comprehensive and accurate information about skin protection is critical to decrease incidence of skin cancer. Lowey authored the Sunscreen Consumer Right to Know Act in 2007 to require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue sunscreen standards that protect against both skin cancer and sunburn causing rays. As a result of Lowey’s efforts, regulations went into effect in 2012 that require sunscreen manufacturers to disclose whether their products protect against UVA and UVB radiation, helping inform consumers to protect themselves from sunburn, skin cancer, and premature aging.