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How Stay-at-Home Moms Can Thumb Their Noses At The CARD Act

By Sheryl Nance-Nash

Andrea Frayser had the worst time getting a credit card. Why? She's a stay-at-home mom. "It wasn't until a bank representative told me to have my household budget direct deposited into an account with only my name on it to show regular income, and to list my position as "consultant", that I was able to get several credit cards that way and establish a good credit rating of my own," says Frayser.

Frayser is far from the only stay-at-home mom having trouble getting credit. Holly McCall, a 34 year-old stay-at-home mom of two, denied credit, started a petition on change.org that has more than 30,000 signatures, many from women just like her.  They want the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to change the Credit CARD Act.

Sometimes laws with good intentions have unintended consequences. Such is the case with the Credit CARD Act of 2009. It was meant to protect people from deceptive credit card practices and to help keep college students from getting themselves into too much debt. Before the act, students could apply for credit and include their parents' income as their own, which made them eligible for big limits they could ill afford. In an effort to "rescue" them the law required those under 21 to either list their own income, or get a co-signer.

However, last spring, the Federal Reserve set forth that the provision would apply to everyone, dependents or equal partners in a household. Simply put, those without a paycheck would not get a credit card. As a result of the change, a stay-at-home parent must ask for her partner's permission to get a credit card.

"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau inherited the CARD Act regulations from the Federal Reserve last summer when the Bureau opened. We recognize that stay-at-home spouses have significant financial responsibilities and play an important role in the U.S. economy. Concerns about how the rule may be affecting stay-at-home spouses have been brought to our attention and we are studying the issue. We encourage consumers to share their stories on our website, www.consumerfinance.gov," says Jennifer Howard, senior spokesperson for CFPB.

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