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If You Found an Error on Your Bill

You should always review your credit card bill every month as soon as you receive it. If you find something wrong, a charge you didn’t make, a credit you didn’t receive, a double charge or anything like that, contact your card company immediately and follow the billing rights instructions on the back of your billing statement. If you don’t follow upright away they might not have to fix the problem.

Billing errors do occur, but they are easy to fix if you know how to use the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). To be protected under this law, you must send the creditor a written notice about the problem to avoid paying for any charges you dispute. You may call them instead, however just calling does not protect you the way writing to the company does..

Billing Errors

The law defines a billing error as any charge:

  • for something you didn't buy or for a purchase made by someone not authorized to use your account;
  • that is not properly identified on your bill or is for an amount different from the actual purchase price or was entered on a date different from the purchase date; or
  • for something that you did not accept on delivery or that was not delivered according to agreement.

Billing errors also include:

  • errors in arithmetic;
  • failure to show a payment or other credit to your account;
  • failure to mail the bill to your current address, if you told the creditor about an address change at least 20 days before the end of the billing period; or
  • any questionable item, or an item for which you need more information.

The Fair Credit Billing Act requires creditors to correct errors promptly and without damage to your credit rating.

In order to be able to take full advantage of your rights under the law, you need to: .

  1. 1. Write to the bank, the financial institution, or retailer who issued the card. Your letter must be received within 60 days after the issuer mailed you the first bill containing the error. In your letter include: your name and account number; the date, type, and dollar amount of the charge you are disputing; and why you think there was a mistake. It’s also a good idea to photo copy the bill and include that as well.

    Some examples of reasons for dispute are:

    • I did not authorize this charge.
    • I did not receive the goods I ordered.
    • I returned the goods I ordered because they were defective, but did not get a credit.
    • The merchant sent me the wrong goods.
    • The merchant did not complete the services I contracted for or performed them incompletely.
    • The merchant billed me for $100 when I agreed to pay $10.
      I canceled the contract with the merchant or contractor before work was performed.

    Although I agreed to buy something from this merchant, I did not authorize him or her to bill my account.

  2. Be sure to send the letter to the correct address for billing inquiries, as designated by the card issuer. You can find the proper address on your bill under a heading such as "send inquiries to."
  3. Make sure you do not put your letter in the same envelope as your payment. It is a good idea to send the letter by certified mail in order to be able to track the inquiry later.
  4. Pay your bill on time, do not withhold funds. You do not need to pay the amount you are disputing but everything else must be paid on time.,

When they receive your dispute the creditor must:

  1. Acknowledge your letter in writing within 30 days after it is received, unless the problem has been resolved within that time.
  2. Conduct a reasonable investigation and, within no more than 90 days, either explain why the bill is correct or correct the error.
  3. Include documents showing that the charge was correct, if the creditor states the bill is correct and you asked for "proof" in your letter.

If the credit card company made a mistake then you do not need to pay the disputed amount nor any accrues interest. They must correct your account, and they must notify you with an explanation of any amount you still owe. If no error is found, the creditor must send you an explanation of the reasons for that finding and promptly send a statement of what you owe, which may include any finance charges that have accumulated and any minimum payments you missed while you were questioning the bill. You then have the time given on your type of account to pay any balance, but not less than 10 days.

Under the FCBA, the card issuer cannot close your account just because you disputed a bill.

Your dispute rights also apply to certain purchases on credit card if you have problems with the quality of the goods or services you purchased. See Defectives page.

If you continue to have problems with the card issuer, you might wish to seek legal advice or contact your local consumer protection agency. For more information about this law, contact the FTC for a free brochure. Write: "Fair Credit Billing," Public Reference, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C. 20580.

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