Disputing Credit Card Charges FAQ
- What Law Governs Credit Card Disputes?
- What Kinds of Charges Are Covered by the FCBA?
- How Do I Dispute the Charges?
- What Should I Put in My Dispute Letter?
- How Should I Send My Dispute Letter?
- Can I Make My FCBA Dispute Over the Phone?
- How Long Do I Have to Dispute the Charges?
- How Long Until My Dispute Is Resolved?
- What Happens While My Dispute Is Pending?
- What If the Creditor Doesn't Comply?
- What Additional Resources Are Available?
- Common Cases
- How Much Are Your Fees?
Many consumers will find that they receive a credit card bill containing improper charges. Those improper charges may include items that were never received, goods that were defective and not replaced, or identity theft charges. For thee improper charges. Federal law provides a an effective remedy for these improper charges under a statute known as the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). That statute provides both a process for dispute, as well as substantive and procedural remedies for violations.
The FCPA applies to "open end" credit accounts, like credit cards, and revolving store charge accounts. The FCBA does not cover installment contracts (like car notes of home improvement contracts) or mortgages. People often buy cars, furniture, and major appliances on an installment basis, and repay personal loans in installments, as well.
Additionally, the FCBA only covers "billing errors." Eligible billing errors include the following types of charges,
- unauthorized charges. Federal law limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges to $50;
- charges that list the wrong date or amount;
- charges for goods and services you didn't accept or that weren't delivered as agreed;
- math errors;
- failure to post payments and other credits, like returns;
- failure to send bills to your current address — assuming the creditor has your change of address, in writing, at least 20 days before the billing period ends; and
- charges for which you ask for an explanation or written proof of purchase, along with a claimed error or request for clarification.
To take advantage of the law's consumer protections, you must write to the creditor at the address given for "billing inquiries," not the address for sending your payments, and include your name, address, account number, and a description of the billing error. Use our the sample letter provided by the FTC.
Your letter should also include documentation to support your dispute. For instance, if your bill included charges for items that were defective, provide photos. If you never receive the goods, you may want to include a declaration that the items were not received. If you have correspondence from the merchant supporting the claim, include that as well.
As with all consumer disputes, be sure to save a complete copy of the document and enclosures. Send the dispute by certified mail to the address specified by the credit card company. The right address fro credit card disputes is usually found on the reverse side of your credit card statements or on the company's web site.
Send your letter so that it reaches the creditor within 60 days after the first bill with the error was mailed to you. Be sure to keep your return receipt and a copy of the letter with your other important credit documents.
NO! Many credit card companies invite their cardholders to notify them over the phone of disputes. While the credit card companies offer this service, phone disputes are not valid under the FCBA. More importantly, credit card companies can take longer than 60 days to complete an investigation into a phone dispute. And even if the company agrees with you and does not charge you, the credit card company can change its mind after 60 days. In either event, if the consumer waits beyond the 60-day period, for what ever reason, the consumer loses their right to make a proper FCBA written dispute.
If you have been charged for a "billing error," you have 60 days from the time you receive your credit card bill to dispute the charge with a card issuer. Charges must be over $50 to be eligible for dispute. You MUST make your complaint in writing to the issuer at the address they provide you. Most credit card companies list their address for disputes on the back of their credit card statements. The Federal Trade Commission has posted a sample letter to its website.
Once you have made your dispute, the card issuer has 30 days to acknowledge your complaint and two billing cycles to complete its investigation. The creditor must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles (but not more than 90 days) after getting your letter.While your dispute is pending, the credit card company may not collect the disputed portion of the bill or report that amount to credit bureaus as late.
If the card company agrees with your dispute, it must correct the error and credit your account for any charges, fees or interest you have been charged. If it does not agree, it has to explain why and, upon your request, provide you with the documentation it relied on for its conclusion. Many consumers who write disputes to their credit card companies find those disputes to be more likely to succeed than their disputes with the merchant. We hope that this works for you.
While your dispute is pending, the credit card company may not impose any fees or interest based on the disputed charges. Additionally, the credit card company may not credit report the disputed charges.
The FCBA provides remedies for consumers whose rights are violated. First and foremost, the consumer can file a law suit over the disputed charges. The consumer may also seek remedies for the continued credit reporting.
- Want to see a list of the credit bureaus who keep data on you? Check out our Credit Bureau List.
- If you need help deciding which reports you need, you can read our article on Credit Reports to Order.
- Need help getting your credit report, see our article on How to Get Your Credit Report.
You may have a case under the Fair Credit Reporting Act if you notice the following things on your background report:
- Fraudulent identity theft accounts on your credit credit report.
- Someone else's Information on your credit report.
- Paid accounts still showing a balance due.
- Reporting your accounts in good standing as charged off or in collections.
- Discharged debts still reporting as owed.
- Paid tax lies showing as still owed.
- Derogatory accounts more than 7 years old still on your report.
- Previously deleted accounts that have been reinserted on your report.
- Duplicate reporting of the same account.
If you would like help with one of these problems, call (888) 400-CREDIT | (888) 400-2733 or contact us through this site.
We only charge a fee if we are able to recover for you, and The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the other side to pay your attorney's fees if you win. You pay nothing up front and we take our fee from the other side.
After your case is done, we will help you to regularly check and monitor your background checks with free annual reviews of your background checks and credit reports to insure that you stay free of false conviction information.Work with a Credit Report Attorney
If you have been the subject of an inaccurate credit report, you may have be able to seek a correction and compensation for any harm. Our firm can help. For more than 25 years, the attorneys of Lyngklip & Associates have represented victims of bogus credit reports credit reports and been a resource for Michigan consumers who need the help of an experienced lawyer.
To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a credit report lawyer, contact our law firm today or call (888) 400-CREDIT | (888) 400-2733 or contact us through this site. In Michigan, you can reach our office at (248) 208-8864.