Receiving your credit card statement with charges that you are not familiar with, can raise your blood pressure to a notch higher than your normal level. Don’t get too emotional and stay calm. There’s a law that protects you from all sorts of erroneous or fraudulent billing. You have sixty days to raise your concerns and dispute the charges. Document every questionable entry and write a formal letter to inform the retailer or credit card issuer. You can also hold payment on the disputed amount and you are free from paying interest for non-payment of the account. If you fail to institute action within 60 days from the billing date, you can still pursue your dispute by asserting your claims and defenses. This is allowed as long as you do it in good faith and with a well-documented support.
You Can Win
Always think positive when problems on your credit card billing appear. Errors are common and even theft or fraud is possible involving some charges on your bill. But every debit or credit on it can be rectified if you follow specific rules. The Federal Fair Credit Billing Act of 1975 enumerates your consumer rights. What you need to do is understand its provisions. Just stay calm as you call the retailer or your credit card company to relay your observations. Use words that are not speculative but factual and polite. When you talk on the phone, don’t raise your voice and stay civil as you try to make your points about the disputed account. Remain persistent if you believe that your claim is valid and fully documented. Be sure that all your letters are registered with return receipt for documentation purposes. These are your best weapons to win your dispute handily.
Your Guide to Dispute Convincingly
A fair understanding of the Fair Credit Billing law is a helpful guide in disputing any charge on your credit card bill that you feel questionable. Remember that you have all the rights to dispute a debit or even a credit which you think is erroneous or tainted with fraud. Errors have several causes and they come in different versions. It is also important that you know the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement, so that you can raise your dispute more convincingly. Here is a guide on what to do when a charge is disputed by you.
- For suspected fraudulent charges-if some debits that you don’t remember you have made appear on your statement, call the retailer at once upon discovery of the charges. These could be attempts to steal from your account through these fraudulent charges by people who were able to access your credit card account. If your merchant or retailer doesn’t respond favorably, follow this up with a formal letter detailing what you have relayed. Provide extra copies of your letter and furnish a copy to your credit card issuer and the other for your files. Make it a point to have your letter sent by registered mail with return receipt for future need. Indicate in your letter the complete data, the date of the transaction, the amount and attach a copy of your billing with supporting document for ready reference. Don’t wait for the 60 day period upon receipt of your billing statement to expire before filing your dispute. The timeliness of your complaint could be a vital key to the early resolution of your dispute either by the retailer or by your credit card company. During the period of your dispute, you have the right to withhold the payment of the account under question. The credit card company cannot impose interest on your non-payment, except when you lose your dispute.
- They have two billing cycles or no more than 90 days to investigate and settle the issues on the account under dispute. When you call your credit card issuer, don’t forget to request for a cancellation of the credit card that you are disputing and negotiate for the issuance of a new credit card replacement. Simultaneous with your communication with the retailer and or credit card company; file also a report to the police or execute a fraud affidavit with the nearest Fair Trade Commission office in your area.
- For overbilling due to errors- billing errors on credit card statements like double entry and computational errors are common occurrences. There are also some charges that were not in conformity with delivery dates or quantity ordered that the customer rejects and claims for refunds. These types of errors that result in overbilling are best addressed by directly contacting the retailer or supplier of the services or goods under question. A simple error of double billing or transposition could be easily reconciled if you have the documents for easy reconciliation. A phone call can resolve such simple cases. However, if that is not possible, a written complaint is necessary to document your dispute. Provide extra copies of your letter that is properly delivered by registered mail to your credit card issuer for notification purposes. Under the law, you also have the right to withhold payment on the disputed amount just like when the charge in case of a theft or fraud. However, the amount that you are questioning could be deducted by the credit card company from your credit limit pending resolution of the issue. If your dispute is not favored, you have to settle it upon notification or else you could be charged with interest for late payments. In case you incur late settlement, it can hurt your credit report just like with your regular account disposition.
Your dispute must be resolved by your credit card company not later than 90 days after receiving your letter. If it acted favorably within two billing cycles, that would be a great advantage to you.
Conditions of Your Right to Dispute
While the law accords you with the privilege to question a billing charge within 60 days from receipt of your credit card statement, the same is subject to the following conditions.
- That you do not recognize the charge.
- That the amount on the billing statement is wrong.
- That there was no delivery of the services or goods being questioned.
- That there was an error in the computation of the charge under dispute.
- That what was delivered was not in accordance with the agreement made.
- That the sale must be over $50.
- That the transaction transpired in your home State or within 100 miles from your billing address.
Although it appears that the venue of the sale excludes most phone and online sales, most retailers and credit card companies are not very strict on this provision as they put more value on the business transactions that they can generate from these sources.
You can always win your case against disputed charges on your bills as long as you do it promptly and fully supported with documents. If you do it within the prescribed time and procedures, there’s no question that you can have it taken off from your bill. Deal nicely with your retailer and credit card company. They would desire to have you on their list of loyal customers if you deal honestly.