Federal Reserve Board officials are being called to Capitol Hill tomorrow to explain how they can make their consumer credit controls work without compromising the rights of consumers.
Opposition to the controls seems to be increasing as lenders make public the details of how the new curbs will affect the borrowing of millions of consumers.
Citicorp, the nation's second largest bank, said yesterday it will sharply curtail student loans, mobile home and home improvement loans, limit the amount of cash customers can get with credit cards and raise monthly minimum credit card payments from $5 to $15.
Citicorp said it was taking the steps to comply with the Federal Reserve's edict to try to prevent any increase in consumer credit and to limit growth of all loans to 6 to 9 percent.
Federal Reserve Governor Nancy Teeters is scheduled to defend the Fed's strategy at a hearing called tomorrow by a house consumer affairs subcommittee headed by Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.).
Annunzio yesterday called the Federal Reserve plan "an off-the-wall program that places the entire burden of inflation on consumers."
A second hearing on consumer credit controls has been called for next week by Bob Eckhardt, chairman of another House subcommittee. Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (D-N.Y.), who heads a third panel, also has asked Federal Reserve officials to justify their actions.
All three subcommittee chairmen and a number of other House members say they oppose suspending any provisions of the federal truth-in-lending law or other consumer protection measures as part of the credit control plan.
Federal Reserve staff members are discussing temporarily setting aside provisions that require lenders to give consumers advance notice of any changes in the terms of credit plans. Several states have laws requiring consumers be given three to six months notice of such changes.
The state laws could keep consumers from feeling the pinch of credit restrictions for months and would delay the cut in borrowing the Federal Reserve is trying to produce.
Lenders have asked the Federal Reserve for relief from the notice requirements and also have called for suspending the state usury laws that put an 18 percent ceiling on the interest charged on most credit cards. The Federal Reserve Board has taken no action on either issue.
Annunzio said lifting the usury ceiling will "put windfall profits in the hands of big lenders."
Eckhardt warned that consumers could be hit with unexpected increases in their monthly bills and could lose the right to use credit cards they have been counting on.
The Texas congressman criticized the Federal Reserve for imposing credit controls without consulting either consumer groups or the administration's own consumer advisor, Esther Peterson.
Most lenders have not yet disclosed how they will limit consumer borrowing, but Citibank's announcement yesterday could set a pattern for smaller credit companies.