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Frequently Asked Questions - Credit Cards & Loans

How much interest can be charged on a credit card?

Maine law does not limit the interest that can be charged on your credit cards. Out of state financial institutions are subjected to the interest rate ceilings of their home state. Be sure to read the fine print. Late payments or default may increase your interest rate substantially.

Can my credit card company change my rate?

The federal Truth in Lending Act requires that written notice of a change in terms must be mailed or delivered to the cardholders at least 30 days prior to the effective date of the change, unless you agreed to an increase in the rate when you signed up for the card. It might be time to shop for a card with better credit terms.

Can my credit card determine the amount it charges for late fees? I was late on my payment and they charged me a $25 late fee when by balance was only $20.

Maine law does not limit the amount of late fees that may be charged on a credit card. You must be given written notice of any change in fees at least 30 days prior to the effective date. If you do not like the new terms you may close the account.

How much am I liable for if unauthorized transactions appear on my credit card?

You are not responsible for any amount charged on your account after you have notified the card issuer that your card has been lost, stolen, or used without your authorization. The Truth-in-Lending Act limits your maximum liability to $50 per card for unauthorized transactions occuring prior to reporting such transactions as long as they are reported within 60 days.

I applied for a mortgage loan and was turned down because of my debt to income ratio. I paid $300 for an application fee, $300 for an appraisal, and $35 for a credit report. Can I get any of this money back?

Policies regarding the refund of fees associated with mortgage loan denials vary among banks and credit unions. Generally, the application fee is non-refundable, while other fees may be refunded if the services have not been performed (i.e. appraisal was not done, credit report not run).

Are there any limits for closing costs on first lien real estate loans?

No. Many fees are paid to outside vendors like appraisers, and title attorneys. Financial Institutions must provide you with a Good Faith Estimate. This is an estimate of what you will pay in closing costs; it is one of several required disclosure that must be sent no later than three (3) business days after the written loan application is received on certain mortgage loans. When comparing mortgages, you may wish to ask for a Good Faith Estimate before applying for the mortgage.

My financial institution sold my mortgage loan to an out-of-state institution. Can the new institution change any of the terms of my loan?

No. The new institution must follow all of the terms specified in the original loan contract that you entered into with your bank or credit union.

What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

Private Mortgage Insurance is an additional insurance that lenders require when you finance more than 80 percent of your home's value. In other words, buyers with less than a 20 percent down payment are normally required to buy PMI to protect the bank and credit unions interest in the event you default on your payments.

I am having problems with a mortgage company. Who should I contact?

The Maine Office of Consumer Credit Protection regulates all Maine creditors that are not banks or credit unions. You may visit their web site by clicking on their name above or call them toll-free at 1-800-332-8529.

How do I get a copy of my credit report?

Maine law requires credit reporting agencies to provide Maine consumer's with one free copy of his or her credit report from all of the three major credit reporting agencies annually. You can obtain your free reports directly from all of the credit reporting agency listed below or you can visit annualcreditreport.com and recieve your credit report from one or all credit reporting agencies.

  1. Trans Union: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
  2. Experian Consumer Assistance Center, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013-2002
  3. Equifax Information Services, LLC, P.O. Box 105873, Atlanta, GA 30348

Every month it gets more and more difficult to pay my bills. Now, this month, I have to choose between paying the house payment, the car payment, or the credit card bills. Does filing for bankruptcy make sense at this point?

The decision whether or not to declare bankruptcy is a personal one which ultimately only you can make. Bankruptcy is a serious matter and the record of it stays on your credit history for 10 years. Since there are several forms of bankruptcy available, we urge you to consult with an attorney well versed in this field before proceeding. Some individuals are able to avoid bankruptcy through debt consolidation measures either on their own or with the assistance of non-profit credit counseling agencies. National Foundation for Credit Counseling has more information on credit counseling.

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Last Updated: March 31, 2014