A consumer-advocacy group is crying foul over reports that Citigroup plans to reinstitute so-called "any time for any reason" interest-rate changes on its credit cards. Under such an initiative, Citi could increase card rates or fees based on such factors as changes in economic conditions and Citi's cost of funds that adversely affect the issuer's business operations. A Citi representative declined to comment on the reports. But Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at San Francisco-based Consumer Action, tells CardLine that such a policy change would run counter to a Citi pledge last year during a congressional hearing. She says it also would contradict language in the issuer's consumer-marketing material that "a deal is a deal," stipulating it would not increase interest rates or fees during the terms of cardholder agreements. "It's outrageous to make a pledge like that and go back on it from a consumer-protection standpoint," Sherry says. When surveyors collecting data for Consumers Action's annual credit card report asked Citi representatives in April whether Citi could raise card rates even if the cardholder always pays on time, the representative said yes, "which we thought was kind of strange," Sherry says. Another hint of a possible policy change came during testimony before the House Financial Services subcommittee April 17, when John Carey, Citi cards chief administrative officer, said the issuer was not happy that foregoing universal default and any time, any reason repricing had not drawn more consumers to Citi cards. "These changes were widely applauded, both by consumer advocates and many of you. But we have been disappointed with the results we have seen so far," Carey said.

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