The basic definition of the word ethical is to be morally upstanding. When it comes to receiving consumer complaints, being hit with government sanctions, or having class action lawsuits filed, almost no major credit card issuer is completely innocent. It is a matter of personal opinion as to which credit card companies are the most ethical.
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Questions about the ethics of credit card companies can be related to billing practices, increase in APR, customer service problems, and many other issues. Knowing whether or not a credit card company is ethical or not really comes down to its overall reputation. Some credit card issuers are known for providing excellent support while others are next to impossible to get a hold of, even during normal business hours.
Forbes reported that Bank of America credit cardholders unknowingly enrolled in a credit protection program that cost many consumers a sizable amount of money. In another case, the United States government actually sued the three biggest credit card issuers in the United States for having unfair restrictions. Although all of these credit card companies are dominant in the credit card market, many have questions have been raised about their overall morality.
How to Choose an Ethical Credit Card Company
Some consumers choose to work with smaller banks or local credit unions in order to build a closer relationship with their credit card companies. Although this is a good strategy for getting preferential treatment, it does not guarantee that you will be associated with an ethical credit card company.
If you want to find out if a particular credit card company has a good reputation, you can check a few different resources. First, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a listing for virtually every bank, credit union, and credit card company in the United States. You will be able to see where the credit card issuer is headquartered, the number of years it has been listed by the BBB, and the number of complaints filed in recent years. It’s a great resource if you have a dispute with your credit card company.
Each state regulates and licenses all banks and financial institutions that have a physical presence. By getting in contact with your state’s banking regulation officials, you may be able to gain access to reports, complaints and learn of any disciplinary actions taken against your credit card company.
Note that no credit card company has a completely squeaky-clean record. Finding a few consumer complaints may not give you enough reason for pause, however, national class action lawsuits and federal investigations might indicate that your credit card company is unethical.
What to Do if Your Credit Card Company Acts Unethically
If you have already been approved for a credit card and believe that the issuer is not honoring the terms set forth in your credit card holder agreement, you do not just have to deal with it. Letting your credit card company know of your dissatisfaction is the first and most important step that you should take. Making a single phone call to the customer service phone number may completely resolve your issue, but don’t be afraid to escalate your complaints if you do not get satisfaction.
The L.A. Times recently printed an article indicating that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has become very efficient at handling credit card complaints from consumers. This federal agency, which has only been in operation for a few months, gives a consumers the ability to have their credit card complaint heard.
Complaints to banking regulators may also spur your credit card company into taking action. Issues with billing, credits or interest charges may also be resolved if you write a letter to the CEO or another official at your credit card company.
Taking Legal Action Against Unethical Credit Card Companies
Taking legal action against your credit card company for unethical business practices is a reality that many credit cardholders have already faced. If your credit card issues span over the course of several years and you have not gotten your problem solved by using other channels, hiring an attorney may be your best option.
There are several pending class action lawsuits against credit card issuers, alleging that they took advantage of their customers. If your situation is similar, you may want to get in contact with the attorneys handling these cases. Realize that class action lawsuits can take many years to be resolved, but regardless of the outcome, your credit card issues may not be completely addressed.
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