Credit Card Consumer Guide Credit Card Application
Credit Card Basics
Choosing credit cards
Reading fine prints
Interest rates
Billing errors
Balance Transfer
Credit Card Offers
Low APR credit cards
Low intro rate cards
Business credit cards
Student credit cards
Reward credit cards
Airline credit cards
Secured credit cards
Unsecured credit cards
Visa credit cards
MasterCard credit cards
Apply for a credit cards
Your Credit Rating
Your credit rating
Good credit
Bad credit
No credit
Credit Card Usage
Money Saving Tips
Unauthorized Transaction
Prevent Late Payments
Credit Card Usage TIPS
Credit Card Debt
Credit Card Debt
Debt Reducation Strategies
Debt Consolidation
Consumer News

Cardholder Protections

Federal Law Protects Your Use of Credit Cards.

  • 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 finance charges.

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 purposes

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.

Unauthorized Charges

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 charges.

  • You must have made the purchase in your home state or within 100 miles of your current billing address.
  • 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.

Consumer's Rights

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 a year.
  • 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 bureaus.
  • You may seek damages from violators. If a bureau, user, or information source violates the FCRA you may sue them in State or Federal court.

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 reports.
  • If an item has been deleted or a disputed statement is filed, you may request anybody who recently received a copy of your report be notified.

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