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FORCED ARBITRATION: TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE ORDINARY CITIZEN

In a recent lawsuit filed against Bank of America, nearly 130,000 active-duty servicemembers and their families were victims of the bank charging them higher interest rates than was allowable under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Under this law, financial institutions are required to reduce all interest rates to 6% on debts owed by servicemembers before going on active status. The bank reported to the servicemembers via statements that the interest rates had been reduced, when in fact they had not.

Fortunately for the servicemembers, and to its credit, Bank of America does not force its credit card customers to sign arbitration agreements banning class actions. As a result, the military families who were overcharged by the bank in this case were able to obtain fair compensation for the bank’s wrongdoing. If a forced arbitration provision had been in place, the servicemembers’ ability to obtain justice would have been severely compromised.

Many banks force credit card customers to enter into arbitration agreements to avoid class actions. Unbeknownst to many when signing such contracts, the “fine print” includes a mandatory arbitration clause. In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that over half of all credit card contracts include arbitration provisions and nearly all ban class actions. The study also found that the end result is devastating to individual victims: 99.9% of such cases just disappear and the consumers do not receive any compensation.

Our personal injury lawyers have a national reputation for their experience in handling complex cases and class actions. Understanding whether or not you have a claim based on a complex contract can be worrisome and frustrating. Our attorneys are here to help and will evaluate your potential case free of charge.

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