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					                                        E876                                   CONGRESSIONAL RECORD — Extensions of Remarks                                                        April 2, 2009
                                        which Vijaya worked to raise money for. She                She had never missed a payment on her               spend on their card regularly. While these
                                        was a tireless advocate for peace, a Hindu,             card and had excellent credit prior to her ac-         issuers are required to notify you in writing
                                        and a follower of the teachings of Gandhi. She          count being closed.                                    of an account closing, there’s no requirement
                                                                                                                                                       that they do so in advance. Even when they
                                        was instrumental in bringing in Mahatma                    Her credit card company gave her no early
                                                                                                                                                       do give early notice, the only way a card-
                                        Gandhi’s grandson Rajmohan Gandhi, to                   warning that it was planning to terminate her          holder can stop their account from getting
                                        speak at One World Day at Rockefeller Park              account.                                               shut down is to start spending again.
                                        last year. Another aspect of Vijaya’s quest for            Had she received notification that the com-           In December, Discover reported that it
                                        world peace was her participation in Toast-             pany was planning to close her account due to          closed three million accounts during 2008 due
                                        masters International. She appreciated Toast-           inactivity, she would have been more than              to inactivity, and plans to cull up to two
                                        masters founder Ralph Smedley’s belief that if          happy to use the card again.                           million more. A Discover spokeswoman says
                                                                                                                                                       the issuer is constantly reevaluating card-
                                        people could communicate better with one an-               She even called the company to see if it
                                                                                                                                                       holder’s credit and assessing whether they
                                        other, they could break barriers to peace.              would be willing to reopen her account if she          have the most appropriate credit line and
                                        Vijaya was an active member of the Cross-               used her card, but was told no.                        product. Capital One is suspending accounts
                                        roads Toastmasters club in Strongsville and                These stories are not unique to my home             that have been inactive for at least a year,
                                        Toastmasters District 10 in Northern Ohio.              district of San Diego. Consumers all over the          warning account holders they only have 60
                                        She received the one of the highest honors              country are going through the same exact ex-           days to redeem their rewards. ‘‘Some of
                                        last year when she received the Advanced                perience.                                              these accounts had literally never been
                                        Communicator Silver award by the Toast-                    I request permission to enter into the              used,’’ says spokeswoman Pamela Girardo. A
                                                                                                RECORD an article from the Wall Street Journal         spokeswoman for Bank of America, mean-
                                        masters International.                                                                                         while, says the bad economy prompted it to
                                           Vijaya used her communication skills to ad-          from March 11 of this year detailing the havoc         close accounts with zero balances that have
                                        vocate peace not only among nations, but                these account closures are wreaking on the             been inactive for more than a year. Amer-
                                        among families. She bravely broke her own si-           credit scores of consumers across our nation.          ican Express spokeswoman Lisa Gonzalez
                                        lence about domestic violence, which even                  The bill I am introducing today—the Inactive        says it periodically reviews inactive ac-
                                        today is not widely discussed among immi-               Account Closure Notification Act—will protect          counts for cancellation. Citibank did not re-
                                        grant families. After her own experience, she           consumers by requiring credit card companies           spond to requests for comment.
                                        counseled other immigrant wives and                     to provide customers with a 60-day notification          From a business perspective, cutting off
                                                                                                                                                       certain customers is a smart financial move,
                                        girlfriends trapped in abusive relationships.           before they can close their accounts for inac-
                                                                                                                                                       says Sanjay Sakhrani, an analyst with in-
                                        She brought together fellow community activ-            tivity.                                                vestment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.
                                        ists in Cleveland’s international community to             During this 60-day period, customers can            Closing rarely-used accounts lowers a card
                                        form a coalition to confront domestic violence          use their credit cards to prevent their accounts       issuer’s risk profile by keeping their poten-
                                        in immigrant communities.                               from being closed.                                     tial liabilities (i.e., the amount of credit
                                           Madam Speaker and colleagues, please join               If an account has been closed for inactivity,       available they extend to cardholders) from
                                        me in remembrance of one of Cleveland’s                 a customer will still have 30 days to contact          outweighing their assets. Inactive accounts
                                        great champions of peace, Vijaya Emani. She             the credit card company requesting that his or         also cost the issuer money to maintain,
                                                                                                her account be reopened.                               without providing the benefit of income from
                                        developed her skills as a communicator and
                                                                                                                                                       interest or merchant fees, he says.
                                        community organizer to bring peace in the                  With lenders dramatically tightening their            For consumers, however, closing accounts
                                        home and peace in the world. The Greater                standards in the current economic climate,             can be devastating—especially to their cred-
                                        Cleveland community will surely miss the                even a small dent in a consumer’s credit score         it score. Your credit utilization ratio—the
                                        presence of Vijaya at community events, but             can severely impact his or her ability to take         amount of your debt in relation to the
                                        the passion and commitment she brought to               out a mortgage, start a small business, buy a          amount of your available credit—comprises
                                        everything she did will never be forgotten. Our         car, or pay for college.                               30% of your score, says Craig Watts, a
                                        condolences go out to her daughters Sujata                 Responsible consumers deserve to have               spokesman for Fair Isaac Corporation, the
                                                                                                advance warning that their credit cards will be        company that calculates and issues the FICO
                                        and Nirmala, and her extended network of                                                                       credit score that most lenders use. So when
                                        family and friends around the world.                    closed and their credit scores will be lowered.        an account is closed, you have less credit
                                                         f                                         Help me protect our consumers.                      available to you—and the ratio immediately
                                                                                                   I urge the adoption of the Inactive Account         jumps higher. A person with a solid credit
                                        INTRODUCING THE INACTIVE AC-                            Closure Notification Act and yield back my             score of 720 or so, whose utilization ratio
                                          COUNT CLOSURE NOTIFICATION                            time.                                                  jumps from 35% to 75% after one of their ac-
                                          ACT                                                   [From the Wall Street Journal, Mar. 11, 2009]          counts is closed is likely to see their score
                                                                                                  CREDIT CARD ISSUERS: BUY SOMETHING OR                drop by ‘‘several dozen points,’’ to some-
                                                   HON. SUSAN A. DAVIS                                               ELSE!                             where in the 600s, he says. That’s a far cry
                                                          OF CALIFORNIA
                                                                                                                                                       from the 760 (or higher) consumers need to
                                                                                                              (By Kelli B. Grant)                      get the best rates from lenders.
                                           IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                        One of the biggest causes of the financial             One thing that somewhat softens the blow
                                                    Thursday, April 2, 2009                     crisis was that Americans were borrowing               is that FICO factors in closed accounts when
                                                                                                (and spending) more money than they could              calculating the longevity of your credit his-
                                           Mrs. DAVIS of California. Madam Speaker,             afford to pay back.                                    tory, which accounts for 15% of your score.
                                        I rise today to introduce the Inactive Account            So how are credit-card issuers reacting to           While lenders may make a note on your re-
                                        Closure Notification Act, which protects con-           consumers’ attempts to live a more finan-              port indicating whether the account was
                                        sumers from having their credit cards closed            cially responsible lifestyle? They’re threat-          closed by them or you, the information isn’t
                                        and their credit scores lowered against their           ening to cut their credit cards off if they            used in the scoring formula, says Watts.
                                        will.                                                   don’t spend enough.                                      Ironically, an excellent credit score can ac-
                                           Under current law, credit card companies               Loretta Maxwell of Troy, Mich., thought              tually serve as more of a bulls-eye than a
                                        can close an inactive account without pro-              her credit score of 790 buffered her against           shield, says Dennis Moroney, a research di-
                                                                                                most of the fallout of the credit crunch.              rector and senior analyst for consulting firm
                                        viding any prior notification to the customer.
                                                                                                When Chase closed her $6,000-limit card in             Tower Group. He says banks figure they can
                                           Often, the customer does not know his or             December without warning after two years               limit cardholder backlash by targeting con-
                                        her credit card account is being closed until           of inactivity, she called to fight it. She was         sumers with few debts and plenty of other
                                        after the fact.                                         unsuccessful. ‘‘If you’re not using it, they           accounts. That way, a closed account won’t
                                           Because of the way credit scores are cal-            entice you to do so, and then the moment               have as much of a detrimental effect on their
                                        culated, unilateral account closures can lower          you don’t spend enough, they cut your                  creditworthiness.
                                        the credit scores of consumers.                         limit,’’ she says. (Chase says it is standard            Even years of loyalty and regular spending
                                           In addition, because credit card companies           practice is to review inactive accounts. ‘‘In-         won’t spare some cardholders. David Good of
                                        are only closing inactive accounts that do not          active cards with large open credit lines              Houston, used to be devoted to American Ex-
                                        carry a balance and do not incur fees or fi-            present a real risk of fraudulent use and              press, with which he had two credit cards: an
                                                                                                large potential liabilities for Chase,’’ says          unlimited charge account and a $7,500 revolv-
                                        nance charges, the consumers that are seeing
                                                                                                spokeswoman Stephanie Jacobson.)                       ing account. Yet a solid credit score, eight
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                                        their credit scores penalized are likely to be            Maxwell’s experience is far from an iso-             years of on-time payments and fairly fre-
                                        the most responsible borrowers.                         lated incident. Most major issuers, including          quent purchases on the cards—including
                                           Just the other day, I heard from a woman in          Chase, Bank of America, American Express               more than $100,000 last year alone—weren’t
                                        my district who recently had her credit card            and Citibank have been slashing credit lines           enough to save his accounts. In December,
                                        terminated for inactivity.                              and closing the accounts of those who don’t            Good received a written notice that the

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                                        April 2, 2009                          CONGRESSIONAL RECORD — Extensions of Remarks                                                                     E877
                                        issuer had closed both due to ‘‘low activity                    PERSONAL EXPLANATION                           dedicated, knowledgeable and remarkable
                                        in the past six months.’’ ‘‘I was shocked,’’ he                                                                man who has served on its board for 55
                                        says. ‘‘They lost my trust, totally.’’ (Amer-
                                        ican Express declined to comment on Good’s                        HON. BILL PASCRELL, JR.                      years.
                                                                                                                   OF NEW JERSEY
                                                                                                                                                          Fred V. Kroeger of Durango, Colorado is a
                                        or any other individual’s accounts.)
                                           New Yorker Veronica Eady Famira was va-                   IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                                                                                                                                                       devoted man—to his family, his community
                                        cationing in Germany when she discovered                                                                       and water resources.
                                        that her $1,500-limit Delta SkyMiles card                           Thursday, April 2, 2009                       Fred was born in 1918 in Durango, Colo-
                                        from American Express had been shut down.                  Mr. PASCRELL. Madam Speaker, I want to              rado and he lived there all his life. He grad-
                                        ‘‘I must have spent $300 in cellphone charges           state for the record that yesterday, April 1st, I      uated from Fort Lewis College and he made
                                        calling banks,’’ she says. ‘‘I was pretty               was in my district attending the funeral of my         his home there with his beloved wife Eleanor.
                                        stranded.’’ Adding insult to injury, Famira                                                                    Fred and Eleanor raised their children in Du-
                                                                                                mother Roffie Pascrell, who recently passed
                                        had just earned a free companion ticket on
                                        the card valued at up to $400 for a domestic            away at the age of 95, and I therefore missed          rango and operated a business there—
                                        flight—now she can’t redeem the ticket.                 the 8 rollcall votes of the day.                       Kroeger’s True Value Hardware.
                                                                                                   Had I been present I would have voted                  But Fred’s grandfather and father were tied
                                                                                                ‘‘yea’’ on rollcall vote No. 175 on the Motion         to the rural land and the agricultural economy
                                        CONGRATULATING        EUGENIA                           to Table the Resolution—H. Res. 312.                   of the region, and Fred’s commitment to the
                                         ARMBRECHT FOR BEING NAMED                                 Had I been present I would have voted               farmers and ranchers who were his neighbors
                                         FIRST LADY OF MOBILE                                   ‘‘yea’’ on rollcall vote No. 176 On Agreeing to        continued throughout his life. That commit-
                                                                                                the Resolution Providing for consideration of          ment was evidenced by Fred’s steadfast sup-
                                                        HON. JO BONNER                          the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 85)            port for the Animas-La Plata Project, which
                                                           OF ALABAMA                           setting forth the congressional budget for the         was to deliver water to the ‘‘dry side’’ so that
                                           IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                      United States Government for fiscal year 2010          those farmers and ranchers could thrive with a
                                                                                                and including the appropriate budgetary levels         more reliable and generous water supply. To
                                                    Thursday, April 2, 2009                                                                            this day, Fred bemoans the loss of the irriga-
                                                                                                for fiscal years 2009 and 2011 through 2014—
                                           Mr. BONNER. Madam Speaker, it is with                H. Res. 305.                                           tion features of the project, which is now near-
                                        great pride and pleasure that I rise today to              Had I been present I would have voted               ly complete but is limited to municipal and in-
                                        honor Mrs. Eugenia Armbrecht on the occa-               ‘‘yea’’ on rollcall vote No. 177 On Agreeing to        dustrial supplies.
                                        sion of her being named First Lady of Mobile.           the Resolution Providing for consideration of             Indeed, the first water meeting Fred at-
                                        The Mobile chapters of Beta Sigma Phi, an               the bill (H.R. 1664) to amend the executive            tended was with the Southwestern District to
                                        international women’s network with over                 compensation provisions of the Emergency               discuss the Animas-La Plata Project in 1948.
                                        165,000 members, recently bestowed this                 Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to prohibit         In addition to serving on that board, Fred
                                        honor on her.                                           unreasonable and excessive compensation                served on the Animas-La Plata Water Conser-
                                           Known to her many friends as ‘‘Gigi,’’ she is        and compensation not based on performance              vancy District board for 24 years, the Colorado
                                        a tireless volunteer and has devoted her entire         standards—H. Res. 306.                                 Water Conservation Board for 21 years and
                                        life to improving the lives of countless people            Had I been present I would have voted               has been a member of the Colorado Water
                                        who call Mobile and south Alabama home.                 ‘‘yea’’ on rollcall vote No. 178 On Motion to          Congress for 51 years.
                                           Gigi moved to Mobile from Galveston,                 Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended                    That organization bestowed upon Fred the
                                        Texas, just in time for her senior year at Mur-         End Government Reimbursement of Excessive              prestigious Wayne Aspinall Water Leader of
                                        phy High School. Following graduation, she              Executive Disbursements (End GREED) Act—               the Year Award, given in the name of one of
                                        moved to Tuscaloosa where she attended the              H.R. 1575.                                             my predecessors who chaired the then-House
                                        University of Alabama and received a bach-                 Had I been present I would have voted               Interior Committee where many of the water
                                        elor’s degree in education. She met her future          ‘‘yea’’ on rollcall vote No. 179 On Motion to          projects Fred Kroeger fought for were devel-
                                        husband, Conrad Armbrecht, in Tuscaloosa,               Suspend the Rules and Agree Honoring the               oped.
                                        and after graduation, they moved to Mobile              lives, and mourning the loss, of Sergeant Mark            Fred was active in his community and its
                                        where she began teaching first grade.                   Dunakin, Sergeant Ervin Romans, Sergeant               civic and cultural organizations. He always
                                           She soon developed an interest in special            Daniel Sakai, and Officer John Hege, mem-              carries a little pocket calendar with him, and it
                                        education and began working on her first mas-           bers of the Oakland Police Department in Cali-         is jammed with meeting commitments to
                                        ter’s degree at the University of South Ala-            fornia who were brutally slain in the line of          boards, business, family and friends.
                                        bama. Gigi also began giving much of her                duty—H. Res. 290.                                         At 91, Fred has decided to free up some of
                                        time as a volunteer for Mobile United, and by              Had I been present I would have voted               those days on the calendar, and so he de-
                                        1988, she was a paid employee of the organi-            ‘‘nay’’ on rollcall vote No. 180 On Agreeing to        cided to retire from the Southwestern District
                                        zation. Ten years later, she was recruited to           the Amendment—Bean of Illinois Amendment               board. He richly deserves the recognition he
                                        join AT&T, and she now serves as manager of             to H.R. 1664.                                          will receive tonight from his colleagues. I offer
                                        regional and external affairs for the company.             Had I been present I would have voted               not only my congratulations to him on his re-
                                           Gigi was also honored this year as a distin-         ‘‘yea’’ on rollcall vote No. 181 On Agreeing to        tirement, by a little regret that he will be leav-
                                        guished University of South Alabama alumna              the Amendment—Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania               ing and a mountain of respect for what he has
                                        and the Junior League of Mobile’s Sustainer of          Amendment to H.R. 1664.                                given to the water resource community.
                                        the Year.                                                  Lastly, had I been present I would have                                f
                                           Madam Speaker, I would like to offer my              voted ‘‘yea’’ on rollcall vote No. 182 On Pas-
                                        personal congratulations to Mrs. Eugenia                sage To amend the executive compensation               HONORING THE MEMORY OF ELIZ-
                                        ‘‘Gigi’’ Armbrecht for being named this year’s          provisions of the Emergency Economic Sta-               ABETH     ANN     PITTROFF
                                        First Lady of Mobile; truly, no one is more de-         bilization Act of 2008 to prohibit unreasonable         COPELAND
                                        serving of this high honor. And in so doing, I          and excessive compensation and compensa-
                                        would also like to recognize Gigi for her life-         tion not based on performance standards—                              HON. JO BONNER
                                        time of outstanding professional and philan-            H.R. 1664.                                                                OF ALABAMA
                                        thropic accomplishments; she is truly a role                              f                                           IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                                        model for our entire community.
                                           Furthermore, I would ask my colleagues to             SALUTING THE SERVICE OF FRED                                     Thursday, April 2, 2009
                                        join me in congratulating this respected and                      V. KROEGER                                     Mr. BONNER. Madam Speaker, the city of
                                        dedicated friend to many throughout south                                                                      Mobile and, indeed, the entire State of Ala-
                                        Alabama. I know Gigi’s family; her husband,                        HON. JOHN T. SALAZAR                        bama recently lost a dear friend, and I rise
                                        Conrad; their two wonderful children, Stewart                               OF COLORADO                        today to honor Elizabeth Ann Pittroff Copeland
                                        and Amanda; her granddaughter and her                        IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                                                                                                                                                       and pay tribute to her memory.
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                                        many friends and other family join me in prais-                                                                  Known to her many friends as Betty, she
                                        ing Gigi’s accomplishments and extending                          Thursday, April 2, 2009                      was a lifelong resident of Mobile. She grad-
                                        thanks for her never-ending efforts to make               Mr. SALAZAR. Madam Speaker, this                     uated from The Visitation Monastery and was
                                        south Alabama a better place to live and call           evening, the Southwestern Colorado Water               a lifelong member of St. Pius X Catholic
                                        home.                                                   Conservation District will bid farewell to a most      Church. She married her husband of 58 years,

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