Fine print is more than just the stuff of cartoon characters with magnifying glasses in outrageous situations. The “fine print” is a very real, legally actionable section in most contracts that should receive just as much attention as the rest of the document. Unfortunately, many people feel rushed or pressured when presented with contracts. This often leads consumers to skim the fine print in their contract or worse – not read it at all. However, you never know what’s hidden in your contract until you read the entire thing from title to fine print, so it’s always in your best interest to take a moment before signing your “X” on the line.

Looking for Something in Your Contract? Check the Fine Print.

When most people think of the fine print on a contract, they think of all the nefarious terms unscrupulous businesses are trying to hide from their consumers. You’ll often find the terms in the fine print a little harder to swallow although they may not always be mean-spirited. Disclaimers, terms and conditions, footnotes, and other exclusionary clauses usually comprise the fine print. These may affect the actionability of the contract. In short, fine print is where you might find the not-so-exciting parts of a contract.

Many companies are banking on their consumers not reading the fine print at all, in fact. After all, it would be difficult to get your customers to sign a contract if all your dirty laundry were in bold at the top of the page. Financial companies like banks, credit unions, and credit card companies are notorious for attempting to hide extra fees and potentially unfair conditions in the fine print. So, if you suspect a corporation may be hiding fees or penalties, for example, check the bottom of your contract. Need more reason to be suspicious? Some companies may be hiding arbitration clauses in their fine print. These could prevent customers from filing a lawsuit, having a jury trial, or becoming part of a class action. They could even stop a judge from ruling against the company’s unfair or illegal practices.

Fine Print Knowledge is Contract Power.

Similar to those hidden fees, you might also find important information detailing when and how your contract is actionable. While the company may be protecting their interests, you can also benefit from knowing exactly what your contract covers. That is: if a company tries to deny a claim you make against them, having full knowledge of your contract’s terms can prevent them from wiggling out of their obligations.

You may see these fine print conditions in contracts provided by insurance companies or even on warranty paperwork.

It’s Time to Develop Good Habits.

It seems simple enough, but most Americans simply haven’t built up the will to read a whole contract. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Deloitte, 91 percent of people don’t bother reading terms of service agreements before accepting. It’s no wonder. Most companies write their contracts obtusely, leaving those consumers who do read through the entire document scratching their heads.

However, your signature (or e-signature) has legal weight so you should give it sparingly. Reading the entire contract can help you feel more comfortable. It may also help you develop a list of questions to ask the company before signing. It may seem like overkill, but staying abreast of your legal obligations can protect you in the long run.

Protect Yourself from Unfair Practices

Reading the fine print in your bank and credit union contracts will prove the most beneficial for your financial health. With hidden fees and qualifying conditions often hiding out in the bottom of your credit card agreements or account disclosures, you could end up saving yourself money by simply staying informed. However, the concept of “fine print” has come under fire for being deceptive. McCune Wright Arevalo’s class action attorneys are highly experienced against large financial institutions. With a $203 million trial verdict against Wells Fargo and dozens of other investigations underway, our team is poised to seek justice for consumers across the country.

If you believe you’ve been taken advantage of by banks charging exorbitant overdraft or NSF fees, contact us today or call (855) 976-3154.