Anti-usury campaign kicks off in Raleigh

DURHAM -- The average debt for nearly half of Americans with credit-card balances rose from about $5,600 in 2004 to $7,300 in 2007, according to the latest figures from the Federal Reserve.

With the average rates estimated between 12 and 15 percent, that means millions of consumers are paying $1,000 a year in credit-card interest alone.

Religious people of many spiritual stripes agree that's a big problem, and they'll unite in Charlotte today and in London next month to try to do something about it.

N.C. United Power is part of an international campaign to cap interest rates at 10 percent in deference to historic usury laws that grew out of Christian, Jewish and Muslim scriptures. The campaign comes at a time when credit card companies are being scrutinized by Congress and the Federal Reserve.

The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act passed by Congress this year offered new protections for consumers, and the Federal Reserve is proposing new rules as well. But a legislative effort to cap interest rates at 15 percent did not succeed.

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