Class Action Lawsuit Against The Credit Card Companies


This is an interview with Samuel Deskin of the Deskin Law Firm about the possibility of a class action lawsuit against the major credit card companies. Click to play the interview, or read the transcript below.

Connie: Hello everyone!

This is Connie Brooks from Ask Mr. Credit

We’re here today to discuss one of the problems created by the current downturn in the economy.

Credit card companies have been unexpectedly lowering consumer’s credit limits.

For some people this is an embarrassing situation because they have their card denied while they are trying to make normal purchases.

Even worse than the embarrassment, is that having your limit lowered unexpectedly can seriously damage your credit rating.

We’ve had dozens of people write in to us saying that their limits were lowered without notice, and asking about the possibility of a class action lawsuit against the credit card corporations.

So, in response to your questions we’re here today talking with Mr. Samuel Deskin of the Deskin Law Firm.

Are you there Mr. Deskin?

Samuel: Hello Connie

Connie: Hi! Thank you for joining us today.

Samuel: Sure no problem

Connie: Before we get into the details can you tell us a little bit about what a class action lawsuit is?

Samuel: Sure. A class action lawsuit is basically a lawsuit but brought by a small group of individuals or one individual against a big corporation that has in some way either defrauded or harmed the individuals.

And so this individual or small group of individuals come and represent a larger group of plaintiffs, and so they act as class representatives to a big group of people who have been harmed.

In this way the courts can handle one case against a particular company versus handling hundreds or thousands or millions of individual cases against a particular company.

Connie: Well that makes sense to me. It definitely sounds like it might fit this situation too.

Samuel: Well it makes things a lot more efficient and when something like this happens it hurts everybody a little bit but not enough for them to make a federal case out of it. But with a class action, but with aggregating all the people you can make a federal case out of it.

Connie: Ok. Well now the situation that we’re having here is that people’s credit scores are being damaged because it is affecting their debt to credit ratio.

So say for example, somebody had a $10,000 credit limit and they charged $800 of it, and then the credit card company lowers their limit down to about $1000 unexpectedly – Well on their credit report it looks like they are utilizing nearly all of their available credit limit.

Since that’s about 30% of your credit score, it’s having a big impact on the consumers that it’s happening to.

Do you feel like this situation would warrant a class action lawsuit?

Samuel: Well, I guess the answer is, it depends. There are a lot of factors that go into a class action. I guess I’ll speak a little bit to that.

The first factor that you really have to look at are the number of people that are harmed. So, if this is happening to five or ten people it’s not really the right venue to be able to bring a case. But, it sounds like it’s happening to a lot of people.

The other thing you have to look at is how common the claims are. So, if the claims are arising out of the same questions of law and fact then you could bring a class action.

So, we’ll look at this situation and say, “Ok, people are having their credit limit lowered. Is it because their contract allows the credit card companies to lower the limits? Or is there another reason why it’s OK for the credit card companies to lower the limits? ”

Some people will have credit card terms and conditions that will allow for the credit card to lower their limit, to change their interest rates, to do pretty much anything they want at will. Some people won’t.

So, we need to be able to look at that, and be able to understand what each particular situation is and see if there’s a pattern going across a large number of people.

Connie: Ok, so the first thing that our readers are going to need to do is to pull out their terms and conditions and take a close look at what their rights are.

Samuel: Right, because if there are ten different credit card companies they are each going to have different terms and conditions, and they may have different terms and conditions for each of the credit cards that they offer. So, each person may have a slightly different situation.

Now, the terms and conditions may be similar enough that we’d be able to bring a class across one company and say, “OK, you didn’t have terms in there that allowed you to lower the credit limit, and so you couldn’t have lowered the credit limit the way that you did.”

At first, it’s a case by case situation to be able to see what’s happening to individuals, and then we try to apply that to a large group of people.

Connie: I understand. One thing that I think our readers will need to know – especially anyone that gets their statements electronically – is that they’re going to definitely want to go back into their accounts and see if there was a notice of change of terms. They might not have gotten that in the mail.

Samuel: Right. Often times credit card companies are pretty sneaky about that. They put a clause in their agreements that says “We can change your terms at any time.” So, even if there isn’t a clause that allows them to lower the credit limit on the first agreement that you agreed to, over the time that you’ve had the agreements, excuse me, that you’ve had the credit card, they may have snuck one in.

So, you have to be very careful to be able to go across all of their agreements and make sure that they haven’t snuck that clause in there.

Connie: I understand. I know we have some readers out there that are very upset.

If they want to go back through, and check their terms and conditions and make sure that there’s nothing saying that they credit card company can do that, and they do want to be a part of a class action suite, how would we get that started?

Samuel: Well, your readers can look at their documents and then feel free to visit my website at Deskin Class Action or to call me at 800-709-8978.

I’ll be very happy to go over the agreements with them and we can read through and figure out what’s going on, and see if there is a case to be brought.

Oftentimes, we look at these agreements and we look at the situation and we find other things that are going on. Like, you mentioned earlier that they are lowering credit limits. Well, the effect of lowering credit limits may affect the person’s credit score. There may be some issues there. We should look over the entire agreement together and be able to understand what kinds of issues are being raised by these practices by the credit card companies.

Connie:Well, that sounds wonderful. We will put your information on our website as well as a transcript of this for anyone who is listening and wants the full report.

I really appreciate you joining us today Mr. Deskin. Is there anything else you think our listeners need to know before we sign off here?

Samuel: Well, there are many, many credit card companies out there and they are all hurting right now. And they’re all trying to find a way to be able to increase their bottom line. But, at the end of the day, them increasing their bottom line means taking money out of individual’s pockets to line theirs.

So, you should be very careful about the credit cards that you agree to take, and the effects of those company’s business decisions on your own credit and your lifestyle.

So, be wise about the credit that you spend, and be careful who you decide to do business with. So, that would be my two cents.

Connie: Thank you for joining us Mr. Deskin, we really look forward to talking to you again in the future.

Samuel: No problem, take care Connie.

Connie: Thank you guys for listening. If you have any questions about this broadcast, you can check out our website at Ask Mr Credit

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28 Responses to “Class Action Lawsuit Against The Credit Card Companies”

  1. Matt SF Says:

    Well done Connie!

  2. Naomi Raiselle Says:

    I am not a lawyer, only a consumer and small business owner who has been staying afloat with credit card debt, a good credit score and a successful, well-reputed business.

    Is a contract a legal contract that stipulates that one party to the contract (the cc company/bank) can change any and all terms of the contract, at any time, for any reason?
    definition of contract,
    Wikpedia: A contract is an exchange of promises between two or more parties to do, or refrain from doing, an act which is enforceable in a court of law. It is where an unqualified offer meets a qualified acceptance and the parties reach Consensus ad Idem. The parties must have the necessary capacity to contract and the contract must not be either trifling, indeterminate, impossible or illegal. Contract law is based on the principle expressed in the Latin phrase pacta sunt servanda (pacts must be kept).[1]
    It appears to me that an agreement or contract which can be changed at will by one of the parties (the bank) IS TRIFLING, INDETERMINATE, and certainly IMPOSSIBLE. How does contract law dal with this here?

  3. Edward Weinberg Says:

    Contracts are based upon “offer and acceptance” and (other than real estate) may be ORAL without both signatures in writing. In other words, the small print conditions laid out by the credit card issuer, such as the ability of one side to “change the terms” at any time for any (indeterminate) reason is legal. The contract with the card issuer becomes binding upon your acceptance of those terms once you retain and activate your credit card.

    While a “breach of contract” class action lawsuit may not be feasible in credit card cases, a separate lawsuit in “tort” (wrongdoing resulting in personal adverse consequences) is far different and based upon injurious conduct other than the terms of the contract itself (such as lowering your credit score).

  4. Pete F Says:

    How does the concept of changing terms apply to offers such as x.xx% interest for the life of the loan? In these offers the credit card company is soliciting loans with the intent to hook the consumer into taking the loan and then using the card to to make purchases. The purchases are subject to much higher rates and most agreements state the lowest interest debt is paid first. In this way 0% loans get funded by 24% on current purchases. If, however, one does not make a purchase then the loan remains at the low rate. These low rate offers usually have fine print stipulating the bank can change the rate if you fail to make a payment and or your credit rating changes. Baring that the bank, in this case Chase has decided to charge a transaction fee which effectively increases the loan rates. Since the low interest loan offers usually define loan conditions and the conditions for changing certain terms, is it possible to contest via a class action. Once the loan is taken changing the terms by incorporating new fees is at best questionable and deceitful. If the original terms were to provide low interest, and the one party changes the terms to negate that intent is it not obtaining an agreement under false pretenses, which is often defined as fraud?

  5. Mark J. Koss Says:

    I have the same issue as Pete F. it is also with Chase. So does anyone have an answer is this fraud? Also since I am sure they did this to thousands of customers in all 50 states and sent the notices by both US mail and the internet is this also mail fraud and racketeering and a violation of the RICO statute?

  6. Melissa J Says:

    I too am interested in the same issues as Pete F. and Mark Koss with Chase changing the terms on my Promotional Rate that was not to change until it was paid off. Is this really legal? I have had this Promotional Rate for several years with no attempts by Chase to change the terms until now. I have not used the Chase credit card for any purchases nor have I ever made a late payment yet now Chase is attempting to change the original terms of the Promotional Rate agreement. Chase made me the rate offer to transfer balances and I accepted their offer with the understanding that the rate would not change until paid off. I’m sure now, with our economic times, they are looking for ways to do away with all of the low promotional rates. I would be very interested in knowing if a class action could be filed. I know Chase and probably a lot of the other credit card companies are doing this as well but if I, as the consumer, told Chase I was changing the terms of our agreement, they would certainly not stand still for it!

  7. Jill D Says:

    A class action lawsuit is being filed against Chase for the change in terms to the promotional rate offers. Here is a link to the complaint:

    Here is a link to join in the class action suit:

  8. Laura P. Says:

    From what I understand from the Chase change in terms they can not change your promotional APR that you agreed to however long ago.

    I have had the same problem recently and I sat down with a friend who is a lawyer and we went over the copy of the terms and conditions Chase sent to me. In the terms of the credit card I received when it was first opened it does state that if you have a promotional rate they are not allowed legally to change it without your permission, BUT there is a disclosure in there that states, ‘…we reserve the right at any point to charge a fee or increase the payment structure of the account’.

    Not sure if this is what everyone is looking to hear, but it sounds like Chase is utilizing this portion of their agreement when it comes to their change to the Life of the loan agreement.

    I wouldn’t mind getting more information on a class action lawsuit, but if this portion of writing is in everyone elses terms and agreement I don’t know if there is a case here.

    Please let me know if I am wrong.

  9. Cathy Andrews Says:

    I am having the same problem of a bank changing our agreement on APR contrary to their written statement that the percentage would remain “fixed for the life of the balance”. I have not been late nor missed any payments. The account is with American Express, not Chase. Is there any class action suit that I may participate in? I have tried calling and speaking with a manager at American Express, but she was curt and refused to tell me any clause in our contract which legally allows this change. Today I received notice that I will be billed for her sending me a copy of the notice of change to our agreement (which I have never agreed to).

  10. kim kug Says:

    I had a business bankone credit card that chase bought. I had the card for over 10 years
    due to the prolems happening in the dec 2008 i was late over 30 days. I have paid off the credit and now chase has placed it on my personal credit report. They never placed it when i paid it on time and now refuse to take it off..

    This is the only paid thing on my report.. HELP is this legal??

  11. Jonathan F. Says:

    I have a Card with HSBC. Due to 1 late payment in Dec of 2008, they have now assessed fees & finance charges in excess of 50% of my entire card limit, making it frankly impossible for me get out of this debt, because the fees will continue to compound. I have written to them twice about it, to no avail. This certainly isn’t ethical business practice, and I’m not even sure it’s legal.

    I stand amazed at their greed and arrogance, especially in these perilous financial times. Yet rather than try to work with their customers to get through this, they instead walk all over them while, at the same time, demanding a bailout from the same people they are treading on.

    Is there a Class Action Suit I might join?

  12. Helen Says:

    I’m having the same problem with the rollercoaster interest rates with Advanta. They’ve changed my rate every month for the last 3mo. I started out with a 7.99% rate, I’ve never been late and they arbitrarily raised my rate to over 20%. I called to dispute, no progress. Then I get a notice saying they want to raise my rate to 38% or I can opt out. I called again to dispute, my basis being my fico is over 720 & if I were a new customer application they would never offer me 38%. I was left on hold for 20min to be told I’d get a call back that never happened. I’ve seen blogs of similar complaints w/Advanta. Is there a class action for them?

  13. Chuck Says:

    I had a similar experience with Advanta with my business card. I called them to discuss it and was basically told too bad. I threatened to not pay them and was told they would sue me. I threatened to Chapter 11 the company and was told I had a personal guarantee. I KNOW that I never signed a personal guarantee. They said that the personal guarantee was in the fine print of the cash advance checks. Will this type of “personal guarantee” hold up against me personally? I’m about ready to close my business anyway.

  14. Advanta Fighter Says:

    It is pretty hard to convince any law firm to take on a class action against Advanta or any of the credit card companies for 3 reasons. Most all credit card agreements have a Class Action Opt Out clause where you agree you can not sure them as a class action, but only on an individual basis, a Mandatory Arbitration Clause, where if you sue them they can demand mandatory arbitation by the Federal Arbitration Forum, which almost always rules in favor of the credit card companies, and a Choice of Law Clause, when say you agree to be bound by the law of Utah, which are useless for any protection for the consumer.

  15. Eric Says:

    I have been an American Express card holder since the year 2000 and I have worked extremely hard to build the credit that I had. I currently have three credit card accounts with American Express. On my BLUE credit card between 10/17/08 and 11/18/08 statements my credit line was reduced from $48,000 to $40,000 (17%, within $750 of my balance). During the same time period they imposed a $1,700 credit limit on my ONE credit card which always had been unlimited. I had charged and paid each month more than $2,000 consistently for years on that card and now I had to scramble to move automatic payments, I had several charges declined after the limit was set and was left with egg on my face. After calling customer service several times they said this was due to a credit review and there was nothing that could be done about it. On 4/2/09 I was notified that my BLUE credit line was reduced from $40,000 to $9,600 (76%, within $200 of my balance). After calling customer service and speaking with a manager they said this was due to a high debt/credit ratio and there was nothing that could be done about it. I have never made a late payment and I typically pay much higher than the minimum payment. At a minimum this is horrible customer service and at a maximum they have severely impacted my credit rating by increasing my debt/credit ratio. My debt/credit ratio has not changed dramatically in over a year and my credit score is over 700, what they are doing is completely arbitrary. I would not be surprised if they lower my limit again in the near future as they are now creating a self-fulfilled prophecy by manipulating my credit. From the research I have done there are hundreds if not thousands of customers being affected in the same way and I am looking for a class action lawsuit to join if this can not be resolved immediately. I am so unhappy that I want to immediately cancel all of my credit accounts with American Express, the only reason I have not is it will hurt my credit scores even more. Please help!

  16. Pablo Says:

    Not much to add that hasn’t been said already.

    In a similar situation to Eric above.

    Now I’m not the best with revolving debt, but it’s really the only hit to my credit rate. Otherwise am in great standing – in terms of paying off (at very least) minimums well before they’re due.

    Been with Bank of America for years – and in the past 6 months they’ve lowered my limits (on 2 cards) several times. Seems like every other month, my new limit is just a hundred or so above my balance.

  17. Sid Says:

    I have a somewhat different situation but it still shows advanta banks complete lack of concern or compassion for the average guy who’s been struck hard by the current economic crises.

    I tried to work with them and explained my situation. For over 20 years I’ve had excellent credit and never missed a single payment. When the housing market crashed it took my home improvement business with it.

    I asked Advanta if we could somehow work this out with smaller payments, temporarily, because I’m confident that when the economy springs back, I will be able to make great strides towards paying this debt off in full.

    My other credit card issuer accepted this agreement based on my past credit history. As long as I continue to make the smaller payments… They would continue to work with me to get through this tough economic time.

    Advanta, instead chose to conduct business as usual. They jacked my interest rates up to the maximum (over 27%) raised my minimum amount due each month, and started adding late fees for the unpaid amount.

    To make matters worse, they lowered my available credit to less than my current balance, and started slamming me with over the limit fees. I never went over my limit, they put me over the limit by lowering my available credit limit.

    I guess they’re within their legal right to do so, because they tell me it was clearly written in one of their change of terms amendments. You know, one of those 10 page, multi folded inserts, typed in a tiny # 4 font, with about 5000 words of legalese, that they slip into your bill every couple of months…

    Somewhere in th middle of one of those inserts, it said they could change my rates at any time, for any reason, without notice. And by not paying my entire balance off in full, and closing the account, it meant I agreed to the change in terms.

    This bank it the prime example of predatory lending, that has in no small part, led to the financial meltdown in this country, and in the world.

    I don’t know if my situation makes me eligible to be a part of any class action lawsiut, but I will absolutely give my full support to anyone who has the legal means to bring this company down.

  18. Christine Says:

    My Husband had a WAMU Card that became a Chase Card. We were never late with it. It only had a $2000.00 Credit Line – Pretty Small Fish. Anyway I have always paid it off in full. I did not mind our 14% interest because we had bad credit which we are trying to rebuild. I was out of work for 6 years. So now I have a great full time job dh had a great full time job and I figured we were gettin gback on our feet.

    Chase Raised our Interest Rate to 29% and then closed our never late, never delinquint, always paid in full account.

  19. S P Dudley Says:

    We need to make a major complaint about Bank of America. We are customers in good standing with an excellent credit history. Yesterday without warning they arbitrarily reduced our credit limit on our VISA from $12000 to $5000. This was done without warning. We normally spend about $5000/month on the card then pay it all off before the deadline, so we were shocked when informed about this. When we asked to speak to the BoA credit dept, they asked us all sorts of personal questions about our income, then announced that they were reducing our credit limit even further to $1000. We are now cancelling our credit card and paying off our balance.

    We did some research and discovered that we’re not alone, and found many instances of people, all with good credit history, that were being victimized by BoA in this way. The bank somehow doesn’t see us as a value to them and in fact was quite hostile, even though we’ve been a good customer for over 20 years.

  20. John Hansen Says:

    We have never been late on a payment with WAMU – then chase bought it and after a few months, and a nice big taxpayer bailout – today we got a letter stating that they were going to close one of our credits because of:

    too many active bankcard accounts
    too few accounts paid as agreed – compared to total accounts
    total available credit on bankcards is too low.

    We have not been late on any payment to any of our cards since our bankruptcy 5 years ago – which – ironically was brought on by Chase doubling our minimum payment to $400.00 a month. At that time we have never been late on a payment to them either – they said “we’re doing you a favor – getting your balance down.”

    Yeah right – is there an arrogance and greed these bankers don’t enjoy?

    I hope to see a big class action suit against this greedy company.

    John Hansen Follow me on Twitter

    John Hansen

  21. Mike T Says:

    Bank of America has just shoved a semi trailer up my rear end. On my Platinum Master Card it states I’ve been a customer since 1996. While I’ve always paid on time, due to some unforseen circumstances, I’ve run up a balance @$30,000 with them over time. I used this card a lot last year for major purchases building up over 36,000 points.
    I had a stress related mental breakdown in 2005-2006 and am on Social Security Disability after working on the Space Shuttle for 25 years. My problem solving IQ was reduced from the mid 130’s to the low 90’s as a result.
    Until December 2008 I had a limit of $36,750. Then some things started happening.
    1. My PC went down in late November and I have tracked all my bills using an excel spreadsheet for about 10 years. With my breakdown, I haven’t been able to put my PC back together which has caused a lot of problems.
    2. I was on paperless billing (another issue) with them and payments were always due on the 5th or 6th of the month for years.
    3. On 12/5 I called to make a payment only to find they’d changed the due date to 12/4 which was a Sunday. I explained my circumstances of not seeing the bill or due date change to the rep who was no help. I then spoke to an accounts manager who was the same.
    4. Because of this:
    A. I was charged a $56 late fee
    B. I was also charged a $15 pay by phone fee
    C. They lowered my credit line to @$34,000
    5. I asked to be put back on paper statements and was refused, with them telling me I had to do this on line. They were adament that they couldn’t change this option.

    I purchased a hot tub during one of their “no interest for a year” offerings last year and also transferred $3,500 from a higher interest rate card to this card (from another offer). The purchase rate on this card was a lifetime 7.00%. I’d planned to pay a majority of this off with proceeds from my Mother’s estate only to find that Nursing home and legal fees burned up most of the estate. I paid @$2,500 one month and invested the rest.

    I have been paying by phone since December and paying the $15 pay by phone fee except when I get to a library and pay on line. Last month I called and found my minimum amount due had gone from @$525 to $810. Thinking this was the result of the previous offers, I just paid it without question.
    This month I called and found the due date was again changed to the 4th and the amount due was $840. I asked to speak to a rep and found out they had changed my interest rate to 19.99%. They stated they’d sent me a letter about this. I did not rewceive any letter. I have a Capital One card that did the same. As long as I don’t use the card, the rate on my balance stays the same.
    Since I was unaware of this ripoff, I used the BofA card once in the last few months to pay for a $45 psychiatrist office visit. Now, after this $45 charge, my entire $30,000+ balance is being charged 19.99%!
    And to make matters worse, my discussions with them took long enough that it put me past 5:00pm, and would be “processed the following day”. Making for another late payment and again a $15 pay b y phone fee.

    I thought President Obama was enacting a law against all of this. On top of the $30,000,000,000 we gave this bank, they’re going to be allowed to rob the consumers until this law passes? The rep I spoke with told me they did this to 6,000,000 customers.

    I would like to be included in any class action suit against Bank of America and Capital One. If you are not involved in this please forward this to whoever is and kindly provide me their name and email.

  22. Kim Curtis Says:

    I have had a Chase Credit Card for 5 months w/ a credit limit of $6,000 which we have never been late making a payments and have paid double the minimum payment required. I used a check that they send with the credit card statement to pay for a kitchen repair, Chase put a hold on the check and called us to see if the check was something we wrote and to make sure it was not fraudulent when we confirmed the check was legitimate the next day they lowered our credit line and the check was no longer a valid check. I have never been so embarrassed to have our builder call and say the check we paid them with was no good. When I called to verify the check was in fact something we wrote they did not inform us that our credit line was being reduced. We had no warning. I am canceling this card and I will tell anyone who will listen that Chase is nothing but a bunch of bottom feeders trying to get another government bailout from US taxpayers and they are the lowest of the low. I will never do business with Chase.

  23. Jmaes J Reis Says:

    Citi Card dropped two of my cards lines of credit to just above their balances again within the past twelve months, dropping my FICO Score considerably. I am outraged and I am seeking legal representation for damages regarding Citi’s blatant unfounded actions against me.

  24. sandy Says:

    I have been served with a summons to court this week…I got disables after paying for credit protection fees monthly on my bills. yet they will not talk about that and are suing me.

  25. Vince Says:

    Wells Fargo lowered my limit and says they sent me a letter. They lowered it from $5000 to $150 after I paid off a $3000 balance. They stated to me over the phone that it was over a delinquency reported by Experian however when I contacted Experian they indicated I had not delinquencies on my credit report. HOWEVER, the owner of the home I bought after foreclosure filed bankruptcy and did have delinquencies. If Well Fargo is just running the address with no personal information then they may get some thing back on this former owner. If indeed they are mixing my credit with their credit then it is just wrong and certainly negligent.

    Also I have an on going saga with Discover over a $100 dispute with Miscrosoft MSN TV2 which I canceled with in the 30 day window (I canceled after 3 days) it has been almost a year and Discover is still trying to figure out why Microsoft will not issue the credit but until Microsoft issues the credit Discover will not take off the charge even though they agree it is not valid. I think Discover has a roll over attitude towards merchants and is also so incompetent in its dispute resolution process to be negligent as they made the first two determinations that it was a valid charge. I made several phone calls and even after I walked them through the evidence provided by Microsoft they agreed over the phone that the charge was not valid they sent me a letter indicating it was valid. So here I a again going through round 3 of this dispute. FINALLY two weeks ago I found some one smart enough to follow the documentation and agree that the charges are indeed not valid. I am still waiting to find out since September of this past year.

  26. Philip Moore Says:

    How do I sign up for the class action law suit against credit cards and loan companines in Illinois.

  27. alaine williams Says:

    How do I sign up for the class action law suit.

  28. larry wells Says:

    My wife and I owned a C-store from 2004 thru 2008 which we accepted most credit cards mc and visa and others. We would like to get the addres/web link to join the class action lawsuit for fees charged to us to accept the cards

    Thank you

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