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Harris calls for credit card fees to be suspended during coronavirus crisis

Harris calls for credit card fees to be suspended during coronavirus crisis
© Greg Nash

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHere's why Joe Biden polls well, but Kamala Harris does not Immigration experts say GOP senators questioned DHS secretary with misleading chart Carper urges Biden to nominate ambassadors amid influx at border MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said that all credit card interest, fees and penalties should be suspended during the coronavirus crisis, as many people have lost their jobs and are struggling to cover their expenses.

"I’m calling for the suspension of credit card interest, fees, and penalties until at least four months after this crisis is over," Harris wrote in an essay on Medium. "In the midst of this crisis, no one should be profiting from these hardships. There must be moral and corporate responsibility to support consumers and prevent an economic catastrophe in the lives of American families."

Harris's essay comes after about 10 million new people filed for unemployment claims in the third and fourth weeks of March. Data on jobless claims for last week will be announced on Thursday.

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Harris said that many families will need to rely on credit cards to cover essential expenses.

"For the people already using credit cards to pay the bills, this crisis could make things even worse," she wrote.

Harris, a former Democratic presidential candidate, also argued that the suspension of credit card fees, interest and penalties would not only help individuals, but also the overall economy.

"Suspending interest, fees, and penalties for cardholders isn’t just the right thing to do, it will limit the economic pain of the next few months and help families recover faster on the other side of this crisis," she wrote.

Harris also spoke about her call for a suspension of credit card fees Wednesday on ABC's "The View" and added that negative reporting to credit score companies should also be suspended.

"People are not going to pay their bills on time, and then it's going to go on their credit score," she said. "It takes a lifetime for people to clean up their credit scores, and folks should be able to have as much as possible to get back on their feet after this pandemic."

A number of credit card companies have announced efforts to provide relief to customers who request it due to the pandemic. For example, Bank of America is allowing people to make payment deferral requests online, Wells Fargo has announced fee waivers and payments deferrals for credit card customers who contact the company on a case-by-case basis, and Citi said that eligible customers who make a request could receive a waiver of minimum payment due requirements and late fees for two statement cycles.

Updated at 2:10 p.m.