You may have unwittingly given up your rights to sue your credit card or bank. Stop doing business with companies that have forced arbitration in their contracts with you. It is their way of cheating you.

Many consumer contracts, including credit cards, cell telephone contracts, loan contracts, car contracts, and alike, contain mandatory binding arbitration clauses buried in the fine print of the terms and conditions. The clauses are very broad and encompass virtually any dispute between the consumer and the company. Increasingly, creditors are invoking mandatory binding arbitration clauses to collect debts. Rather than sue consumers and pursue a court judgment, credit card companies are forcing consumers into arbitration.

Arbitration is a dispute resolution process that, according to supporters, produces a resolution in less time and for less money than litigating a case in court. Unlike a judge, who is publicly elected and accountable, an arbitrator is chosen by a private arbitration company. The arbitrator is not required to issue a written decision, so the parties rarely get an explanation about the arbitrator’s ruling. And unlike a court ruling, arbitration rulings are final and not subject to appeal.

The arbitration clause usually mandates what arbitration company will hear any disputes. Predictably, creditors choose arbitration companies that pander to their interests. Since credit card companies provide the arbitration companies with thousands of cases, which generate huge sums of money for the arbitration companies, its not surprising that they rule against consumers the overwhelming majority of the time. The failure to do so means no more business for these “impartial arbitrators.” There are even stories of arbitrators being blacklisted by arbitration companies for ruling in favor of a consumer.