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Grassroots and Media Campaign Asks Rep. Maffei to Rein in Hidden Credit Card "Interchange" Fees

For Immediate Release              Contact:       Michael Earls         

March 30, 2009                                                  202-494-8555


Grassroots and Media Campaign Asks Rep. Maffei to Rein in Hidden Credit Card “Interchange” Fees


We Can’t Fix the Economic Crisis Without Reforming These Unfair Credit Card Fees


Syracuse, NY – On Monday, March 30, the Merchants Payments Coalition will host a telephonic press call to discuss the launch of an aggressive media and grassroots campaign to rein in unfair and hidden credit card fees called “interchange.” In its initial phase, the campaign, which has already begun its paid advertising, will run ads in the districts of U.S. Representative Dan Maffei (D-NY) and other key House members on the Financial Services Committee, which is examining credit card legislation this week.


The campaign, consisting of hundreds of New York merchants who are struggling to hold off greedy big banks and rising unfair hidden credit card fees, will include a six-figure advertising buy in local Districts around the country.  The ad buy will include, radio, print, online, and television spots calling on Rep. Maffei and six other Members of Congress to support legislation to rein in interchange fees.  Thousands of merchants and coalition members across the country and in these districts will also launch a grassroots effort to contact Rep. Maffei and his colleagues to urge them to give small business and consumers a helping hand in this economy.  


New York families are feeling the effects of the nation’s economic crisis.  The state’s unemployment rate reached 7.8% in February, the highest level since 1993, and 8.9% in the Syracuse area [New York Department of Labor].  The State University of New York system saw its budget cut by $215 million this year while having to raise tuition [NYU Local, 3/26/2009], and New Yorkers pay the third highest average retail electricity prices in the country [U.S. Energy Information Administration].  With families being squeezed by today’s economy, the Merchants Payments Coalition is calling on Rep. Maffei to stand up to credit card companies and big banks.  After the disaster of the subprime mortgages, these companies are still practicing predatory lending with credit cards, charging huge, hidden fees known as interchange that cost Americans $48 billion last year alone.


Interchange fees are threatening to squeeze thousands of merchants out of business and are costing hundreds of dollars per year for the average household. In our current economic crisis, these fees are a burden to New York families struggling to make ends meet and a drain on our national recovery.




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