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Lawsuit Aims To Stop Predatory Tactics On Credit Card Holders

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Estimated 35,000 credit card victims in Hawaii
HONOLULU -

The next time you get your credit card statement, look it over carefully -- you may be a victim of what the state is calling a widespread and illegal practice on the part of credit card companies.

The state said the practice has been going on for years and is the reason for a major lawsuit filed Thursday.

The practice is called "slamming" and it's estimated there are about 35,000 people in Hawaii who may be victims of what the state said credit card companies have been doing for years.

Investigators say slamming is the process by which the companies get consumers to sign up for products or services they did not agree to nor, in some cases, qualify for.

"The company calls you up, says, 'Would you like some information about a card holder protection plan that we have or a credit protection plan that we have, or some other kind of payment protection plan,'" said state Attorney General David Louie.

On Thursday, Louie filed lawsuits against seven major credit card companies -- Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, and HSBC -- to stop the alleged illegal practice in Hawaii.

It's believed the credit card companies have made millions of dollars through slamming.

"It's not a big charge. It's a small charge. It's a dollar every hundred dollars or something like that, but it's a small charge that you may not have noticed," said Louie.

The attorney general said victims may have been unknowingly billed an average of $150 in the scam.

"Even more diabolical about this is if you call up and you want to get paid, the people who are making these calls have no authority to do that," said Rick Fried, an attorney that has been hired by the state on a contingency basis.

The lawsuit doesn't mean victims will get their money back, but it is aimed at making sure there are no future victims.