Surprise Credit Card Cancellations: Are You at Risk?


Just because you have a credit card that works today, doesn't mean that you can count on it working for your next charge.

As recently reported in The Wall Street Journal, credit card companies can legally cancel accounts without first informing the card holder (they actually have 30 days after the cancelation to inform the customer, and often do so by mail). Now issuers, including American Express (Stock Quote: AXP), Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC), Citigroup (Stock Quote: C), J.P. Morgan Chase (Stock Quote: JPM)and HSBC Holdings (Stock Quote: HBC) are reassessing which accounts they feel are too risky, and canceling them.

The account cutting, which is being made in advance of (but is not required by) 2010's new credit card reform laws, is resulting in consumer confusion, especially when they attempt to use credit cards and are declined.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act can bring some clarity on the matter. Issuers can cancel, without notice, a defaulted or delinquent account, or a card has not been used in more than a year. However if your account was active and it was in good standing and then it is closed you have the right to find out why it was closed.

What You Can Do:

1. Call customer service
Call up your issuer and ask for specifics, keep track of who you speak with and who you are referred to.

2. Get a copy of your credit report
Take advantage of the free reports you are eligible for each year, being aware of where you stand credit-wise can minimize future surprises.

3. Take Action
If you believe that a creditor is discriminating against you, the FTC lists contact information for the agencies you are most likely going to need to contact.

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