Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 at
The Boston Globe recently ran an article outlining tips for winning a credit card dispute. They offer sound advice. First, determine if the mistake you see on your credit card statement was simply an error or is something much more serious, like the result of identity theft or a stolen credit card. If it’s the former, you have 60 days to notify the credit card company – in writing – of the error. If it’s the latter, you need to call the credit card company immediately and let them know, and then cancel the credit card and ask for a replacement card. You can also contact the company that put the charge on your card, as it’s often an easy process to get them to reverse the charge.
If you write to the credit card issuer, summarize any calls you’ve made to them, as well as the calls you’ve made to the merchant. In the meantime, you don’t have to pay the disputed amount, and the card issuer has to launch an investigation and report back within 90 days.
If, for whatever reason, you didn’t catch the mistake, you might still have a claim – called “claims and defenses” if you have an outstanding balance on your credit card that’s higher than the mistaken charge (in other words, you didn’t pay the charge already). You need to work with the merchant, but if that doesn’t work, you can still contact the credit card issuer and ask them to resolve the matter.
Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 at
The Federal Trade Commission recently released a consumer alert about robocalls claiming that, for a fee, companies can negotiate a lower interest rate on your credit card debt. The FTC says that you can negotiate your own lower interest rates with credit card issuers, and it won’t cost you a dime. Aside from the scam of taking your money without delivering anything of value, some callers try to get your credit card number so that they can either use your card to make purchases or sell it to other criminals.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a credit card interest rate reduction scam, you can file a complaint with the FTC by calling 1-888-382-1222 or going to https://ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.
Monday, November 30th, 2009 at
The Billings Gazette reported that an estimated 31,000 consumers won a total of over $1 million in settlement of a lawsuit alleging illegal debt collection practices. The federal class-action suit was filed last year in Montana under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (the “FDCPA”), and included allegations of civil racketeering.
Plaintiff, Jeannie Cole, claimed that the defendants used false affidavits to win judgments against consumers. The affidavits in question were signed with the name of a dead woman.
The defendants named in Cole’s complaint included CACV of Colorado, Portfolio Recovery Associates, Johnson, Rodenburg and Lauinger, a debt collection law firm, and the bankrupt Washington Mutual Bank and two of the bank’s employees.
The Cole case was initially filed in state court by Portfolio Recovery Associates, a debt collector, in order to recover a credit card debt allegedly owed by Ms. Cole. Portfolio attempted to prove the debt with an affidavit signed by a Martha Kunkle, purportedly an agent of Washington Mutual. When Ms. Cole’s attorney tried to verify the affidavit, he learned that Martha Kunkle had died in 1995. Her daughter, a Washington Mutual employee, had authorized other employees to sign her deceased mother’s name on thousands of affidavits.
All three of the defendants have reached tentative agreements in settlement of the lawsuit. Thousands of class members could receive $25 to $500 in potential recovery. More details regarding the proposed settlement can be found here.
Thursday, October 22nd, 2009 at
Credit card companies have long required consumers to participate in arbitration to settle disputes over unpaid bills. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the nation’s largest mediators, the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) and the American Arbitration Association, have stopped hearing such cases. Moreover, credit card companies are increasingly dropping the requirement for arbitration.
Why? According to the WSJ, NAF allegedly didn’t handle arbitration fairly and impartially. Indeed, the company may have been deciding against consumers so that its sister company, Axiant LLC, could collect the debt. The Minnesota Attorney General alleged in July that the parent company, Accretive, was working both sides of the aisle, as an arbiter and as a collection agency. Accretive was also tied to the Mann Bracken law firm, which is known for representing credit card companies in arbitration. It’s no surprise, then, that an NAF official recently testified to Congress that 94% of debt collection arbitrations found in favor of the credit card companies – and that a former arbitrator who is a Harvard law professor testified that NAF stopped using her after she ruled in favor of a consumer.