Is there an inaccurate or unauthorized charge on your credit card? If so, the Fair Credit Billing Act, or FCBA, gives you the tools you need to help resolve the situation. Here’s what you need to know about the FCBA.
What Is the Fair Credit Billing Act?
The FCBA is a federal law that was designed to help protect consumers against unfair credit billing practices. It provides guidelines for consumers and creditors for managing disputes regarding billing statements, plus rules for removing any interest accrued due to the billing error if the dispute is resolved in favor of the consumer.
The FCBA allows consumers to file a dispute in order to get rid of billing errors, including:
- Unauthorized charges. Federal law limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges to $50
- Charges that list the wrong date or amount
- Charges for goods and services you didn’t accept or that weren’t delivered as agreed
- Math errors;
- Failure to post payments and other credits, like returns
- Failure to send bills to your current address — assuming the creditor has your change of address, in writing, at least 20 days before the billing period ends; and
- Charges for which you ask for an explanation or written proof of purchase, along with a claimed error or request for clarification.
How Do I Use the FCBA Rules?
While the FCBA stipulates that billing complaints should be put in writing, many issuers will handle these matters over the phone. So before you start writing a letter, call to see how the card issuer can assist you. Of course, if your issuer is non-responsive or refuses to assist you (or if they disagree with you and say the billing issue is legitimate), it’s time to put your complaint in writing. Here’s how to do that:
- Write to your credit card company using the address for “billing inquiries.”
- Include in your letter your name, mailing address, account number and description of the billing error, including the date, amount and any other pertinent details
- Mail the letter within 60 days after receiving the bill with the disputed error
Once a card issuer receives your letter, the dispute must be resolved within two billing cycles, according to the FCBA. You also have the right to withhold payment on the disputed charges during a credit card company’s investigation.
Billing errors and unauthorized or even fraudulent charges happen, so it’s always a good idea to your credit card bills each month. It’s also a good idea to keep close tabs on your credit score. The free tools on Credit.com can help you do just that. You’ll get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, plus expert advice on improving your credit.
This article has been updated. It was first published July 15, 2014.