Federal Law Protects Your Use of Credit
- Prompt Credit for Payment.
Your account must be credited the day that payment
is received. Exceptions are if the payment is
not made according to the creditor's requirements,
or the delay in crediting your account won't
result in a charge.
Follow the issuer's mailing instructions. Payments
sent to the wrong address could delay crediting
your account for up to five days. If you misplace
your payment envelope, look for the payment
address on your billing statement or call the
issuer. Better yet pay on-line.
- Refunds of Credit Balances.
If you have returned something or overpaid your
balance you can keep the credit on your account
or write your issuer for a refund if it's more
than a dollar. A requested refund must be issued
within seven business days. If a credit stays
on your account for more than six months, the
issuer must make a good faith effort to send
you a refund.
- Errors on Your Bill.
Issuers must follow rules for promptly correcting
billing errors. You’ll get a statement
outlining these rules when you open an account
and at least once a year. Many issuers include
a summary of these rights on your bills.
If you find a mistake on your bill, you can dispute
the charge and withhold payment on that amount
while the charge is being investigated. The error
might be a charge for the wrong amount, for something
you didn't accept, or for an item that wasn't
delivered as agreed, you still have to pay any
part of the bill that's not in dispute, including
If you decide to dispute a charge:
- Write to the creditor at the address indicated
on your statement for "billing inquiries."
- Include your name, address, account number,
and a description of the error.
- The letter must reach the creditor within
60 days after the first bill containing the
error was mailed to you.
- Send the dispute via certified mail for documentation
The creditor must acknowledge your complaint
in writing within 30 days of receipt, unless the
problem has been resolved. The dispute must be
resolved within two billing cycles, but not more
than 90 days.
If you report the loss before the card is used,
you can’t be held responsible for any unauthorized
charges. If a thief uses your card before you
report it missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized
charges is $50.
Report the loss as soon as possible. This will
reduce your liability. Some issuers have 24-hour
toll-free telephone numbers to accept emergency
information. It’s a good idea to follow-up
with a letter to the issuer, in it include your
account number, the date you noticed your card
missing, and the date you reported the loss.
Disputes about Merchandise or Services.
If you are unhappy with something you bought
or received unsatisfactory services you can dispute
- You must have made the purchase in your home
state or within 100 miles of your current billing
- The charge must be for more than $50. (These
limitations don't apply if the seller also is
the card issuer or if a special business relationship
exists between the seller and the card issuer.)
- You must first make a good faith effort to
resolve the dispute with the seller. No special
procedures are required to do so.
If these conditions don't apply, you may want
to consider filing an action in small claims court.
It’s important to know your rights.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was created to
promote accuracy, fairness and privacy of information
pertaining to the files of a credit bureau. It
gives the consumer the following rights:
- If you are denied credit or employment due
to a credit report, the denying party must give
you the name, address and phone number of the
bureau providing the information.
- You have the right to see your file upon
your request. You may get a free copy, if you
have been denied due to the information in your
file and you request a copy within 60 days after
receiving notice of action.
- You may now also receive a free copy once
- Inaccurate information must be corrected
or deleted. This is usually done by the bureau
within 30 days of the dispute. The bureau is
not required to remove accurate data from your
file unless it is outdated or cannot be verified.
A disputed item can only be reinserted into
your file if the information source verifies
its accuracy and completeness. The bureau must
notify you of the reinsertion. This notice must
include the name address and phone number of
the information source.
- You can dispute inaccurate items with the
source of the information (the creditor that
reported them). The source must report to the
bureau that you dispute an item. They may not
report the information without including a notice
of your dispute. Once you have notified the
source of the error, in writing, they may not
continue to report the information.
- Information stays on your credit report for
7 years, bankruptcies for 10 .Outdated information
cannot be reported.
- Although access to your file is limited,
certain people with a recognized need by the
FCRA can review the report including creditor's,
insurer's, employer's, landlord's or other businesses.
- If you don’t want unsolicited credit
and insurance offers you may choose to opt-out.
The offers should have a phone number for opting
out and you can also contact the credit reporting
- You may seek damages from violators. If a
bureau, user, or information source violates
the FCRA you may sue them in State or Federal
Disputing With Credit Bureaus
If you find outdated or incorrect information
on your credit report you may open a dispute with
the credit bureau. The following are actions the
bureaus must take:
- They must investigate the items (usually
within 30 days) with the original source, unless
the dispute is frivolous.
- The source must review your evidence and
their findings with the bureau.
- The bureau is required to give you a written
report of the investigation and a copy of your
report, if the investigation results in a change.
- If your dispute does not resolve the situation,
you may add a brief statement to your file.
This statement is normally included on future
- If an item has been deleted or a disputed
statement is filed, you may request anybody
who recently received a copy of your report