Have you ever been billed for merchandise you
returned or never received? Has your credit card company ever charged you twice
for the same item or failed to credit a payment to your account? While
frustrating, these errors can be corrected. It takes a little patience and
knowledge of the dispute settlement procedures provided by the Fair Credit
Billing Act ("FCBA").
The law applies to "open end" credit accounts,
such as credit cards and revolving charge accounts (ex. department store
accounts). It does not cover installment contracts - loans or extensions of
credit that you repay on a fixed schedule (ex. cars loans, furniture and major
What types of disputes are
The FCBA settlement procedures apply only to
disputes about "billing errors." For example:
charges for goods and services you didn't
accept or weren't delivered as agreed
failure to post payments and other credits,
such as returns
failure to send bills to your current address
To take advantage of the law's protections, you
write to the credit card company 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.
send your letter so that it reaches the credit
card company within 60 days after the first
bill containing the error was mailed to you.
Send your letter by certified mail, return
receipt requested, so you have proof of what the credit card company received.
Include copies (not originals) of sales slips or other documents that support
your position. Keep a copy of your dispute letter.
Click here for a Sample Credit Card Billing Dispute
The credit card company must acknowledge your
complaint in writing within 30 days after receiving it, unless the problem has
been resolved. The credit card company must resolve the dispute within two
billing cycles (but not more than 90 days) after receiving your letter.
What happens while my bill is
You may withhold payment on the disputed amount
during the investigation. You must pay any part of the bill not in question,
including finance charges on the undisputed amount.
The credit card company may not take any legal
or other action to collect the disputed amount and related charges (including
finance charges) during the investigation. While your account cannot be closed
or restricted, the disputed amount may be applied against your credit limit.
Will my credit rating be
The credit card company may report you as
delinquent while your bill is in dispute. However, the credit card company may
report that you are challenging your bill.
the bill is incorrect?
If your bill contains an error, the credit card
company must explain to you - in writing - the corrections that will be made to
your account. In addition to crediting your account, the credit card company
must remove all late fees or other charges related to
the error. If the credit card company determines
that you owe a portion of the disputed amount, you must get a written
explanation. You may request copies of documents proving you owe the money.
the bill is correct?
If the credit card company's investigation
determines the bill is correct, you must be told promptly and in writing how
much you owe and why. You may ask for copies of relevant documents. At this
point, you'll owe the disputed amount, plus any finance charges that accumulated
while the amount was in dispute. You may have to pay the minimum amount you
missed paying because of the dispute.
If you disagree with the results of the
investigation, you may write to the credit card company, but you must act within
10 days after receiving the explanation. The credit card company may begin
An important caveat
Disputes about the quality of goods and
services are not "billing errors," so the dispute procedure does not apply.
However, if you buy unsatisfactory goods or services with a credit card, you can
take the same legal actions against the credit card company as you can take
under state law against the seller.
To take advantage of this protection regarding
the quality of goods or services, you must
have made the purchase for more than $50 in
your home state or within 100 miles of your current billing address
and you must make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute with the
Please click here to
contact our office if you are
experiencing a problem with a credit card company.