What to do if AmEx wrongly locks your account

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You have legal rights with American Express if they lock your account without reason

Locking your credit accounts is a way for you to freeze your credit purposefully. However, there might be times when American Express wrongly locks your account without your permission or knowledge. What can you do? We explain.

Many customers have dealt with issues from large companies like American Express that have to do with bad customer service, failure to truly investigate fraud, or billing mistakes. But worst still are situations where customers are locked out of their account for no reason and not allowed to use their card. 

As one user explained:

“I want to know why they keep locking my account for no reason then have me try to verify myself over and over again. Especially right after I loaded money into my account which didn’t have money in the first place.”

In another situation a user was ignored entirely after their account was locked:

“I loaded my AmEx Bluebird card and could not use the card at all. I could not check the balance, and was declined at stores. I could not reach Customer service and was held for hours then disconnected. My account says it’s locked. I called AmEx and they tried to reach Bluebird. Nothing.”

What your American Express contract says about locking your account

American Express has slightly different contracts for each card. To find the exact copy of your particular card visit the American Express cardholder agreements list here.

However, section 17.2 of the Card Member Agreement with American Express that pertains to termination stipulates that American Express can close your account at any time and restrict your use of your American Express credit card. Any outstanding bill is due immediately and American Express expects customers to cut their card in half and return both halves to the company.

Section 25.1 says that American Express is allowed to suspend your right to use your card without cause. If they suspend your American Express privileges you are unable to use your account until such time as they have received satisfactory payment for any outstanding charges. 

The term “lock” does not appear in most account agreements so it can be very frustrating when American Express wrongly locks your account. 

The reasons American Express is allowed to lock your account

To that end, American Express is allowed to lock your account for basically any reason they decide. The language of the cardholder agreement is incredibly broad and gives them the opportunity to lock or suspend, or even close your account at their discretion, whenever they see fit. 

However, that does not mean that they can lock your account especially if you have money in there, and then completely ignore you. In most cases there is a reason behind locking your account such as failure to pay a bill in which case they might lock the account until you have made a payment arrangement. 

This can be particularly tricky if there are issues of fraud involved and you are not making a payment in accordance with your right because fraud is being investigated. According to the FTC, you have many legal rights when it comes to fraudulent charges under what is called The Fair Credit billing act or FCBA. These rights stipulate that you are not held responsible for any fraud charges or any current bills that are being investigated, but American Express might not always honor that and see your failure to pay as justification for locking your account. 

What you can do if American Express locks your account

If American Express locks your account, you have options. You should always start with reaching out to American Express first and trying to resolve the issue, but if that doesn’t work, there are alternative legal measures you can pursue.

Contact Customer Service

American Express urges that you start by contacting them and their account center at 1-800-446-6307. If the issue has to do with payments, contacting customer support is the fastest way to find a resolution and get your account unlocked. 

But what happens when American Express is the problem?

If American Express has locked your account unfairly, the FTC urges you to file a complaint. This gives the FTC an opportunity to investigate the situation and urge American Express to unlock it.  

Use Consumer Arbitration to get American Express to Unlock Your Account or Compensate you

The FTC also states that if your creditor violates the FBCA, such as through locking your account without cause, you can potentially be awarded damages. This is where arbitration becomes a valuable solution. 

Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution where you can present your situation to a neutral, third party arbitrator, and potentially get compensation. The law allows compensation up to $5,000. 

You can start an official claim for free below.

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