With shakiness on Wall Street and stock prices and reputations on the line, more credit card companies are settling class actions rather than going through time-consuming and costly litigation, according to lawyers and experts who follow the industry. The two latest instances came to light last week: Providian Financial Corp. of San Francisco said Friday that it would pay $105 million to settle accusations against its marketing and sales practices, and Bank One Corp. proposed to pay nearly $40 million to settle complaints from customers of its First USA unit.

In both situations — as in cases that unfolded last year — the companies said they did not think they had done anything wrong but were eager to get pesky litigation out of the way.

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