Credit card disputes: Arbitration no longer an option

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A major change is coming to the way you can settle disputes with your credit card company or cell phone provider. It has to do with "arbitration".

You can usually find it in the pages of your credit card agreement, or contract: a section about arbitration.  When you sign up for most credit cards or cell phone service plans, whether you know it or not, you agree to waive your right to take your creditor to court, and instead settle for third-party arbitration.

But now, two major arbitrating firms are getting out of the business of settling disputes.  If the bank that issued your card uses one of these two firms, you're now on your own.

"I think the good thing out of this is it's going to make people aware of some of the different processes there are besides arbitration," said Bruce McClary with Clearpoint Financial.

McClary says you can deal directly with the credit card company to dispute charges, but you'd better do your homework.

"Make sure you have all the documentation to back it up. Save all you statements, save all your billing records, open every envelope, scrutinize every number," said McClary.

Another option is to contact one of the credit reporting agencies, like Experian or Equifax, and file a complaint through them.

"In a lot of cases that gets the fastest result because the credit card companies are bound by a specific timeline as to how quickly they have to respond to these disputes that come in from the credit reporting agencies," McClary said.

McClary says now is the time to find out if your card is affected by this change, and explore your options.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.