When using credit cards, there is always the risk of human or computer error on the part of credit card companies. With the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), however, there are some safeguards put into place just in case credit card companies mess up. With these safeguards, consumers have recourse to correct errors – and if necessary, they can correct these errors through legal means.
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Some examples of errors that the FCBA covers are clerical errors, such as incorrectly billed amounts; charges for damaged goods; and charges the consumer never actually made. These are not by any means the only things that the FCBA covers. They are, however, some of the most common.
How to Resort to the Fair Credit Billing Act
Hopefully, you won’t ever have to resort to the FCBA to resolve credit card disputes. Unfortunately, however, you may need to do so at some point. Challenging a credit card dispute with reference to the FCBA is not a difficult process, although it is a precise one. There are some clear steps that you should take if you have dispute an item on your credit card statement.
- Send a written dispute. You need to send a dispute, in writing, to your credit card company’s “billing inquiries” address. Make sure you send it so that the credit card company receives it within 60 days of the original credit card statement. Also take special care to ensure that you send it via the United States Postal Service. The dispute should make clear not only which credit card item you are challenging but should also state reasons for the dispute.
- Wait for a response. The credit card company will have 90 days to investigate the dispute. If the credit card company decides that a refund is necessary, then it will both refund the money to your account and will also charge back the vendor with whom you have the dispute. If the credit card company decides that your dispute is not valid, then it must say so in a written response to you.
- Ask for proof. If you dispute the credit card company’s decision, then you can ask for written evidence of their decision. This documentation will include receipts, invoices, and other such documentation.
Other Relevant Information
Resorting to the Fair Credit Billing Act certainly isn’t fun, but the question that a consumer should ask is: “Compared to what?” If the process of dealing with the FCBA (and the Federal Trade Commission, the enforcer of the FCBA) will result in the reversal of an unjust or improper charge to your credit card account, then it is certainly worth the hassle.
Keep in mind, however, that under the FCBA, you can only sue a company for a charge of $50.00 or greater. The consumer must also at least try to resolve the dispute with the vendor before resorting to legal action. These restrictions are in place in order to cut down on frivolous lawsuits.
Hopefully, no one will need to resort to the FCBA, and all disputes can be handled without a mediator. This is not always the case, however, and – imperfect and arduous though it may be – the FCBA is often the primary method by which consumers can protect themselves against improper charges on their credit card statements.
By following the aforementioned steps, consumers can protect themselves against unnecessary charges. In fact, the very existence of such a law means that credit card companies often preemptively run quality control to make sure that all charges are valid and just!