Have you ever been going through your credit card statement and found you were billed for items you never purchased? Or have you ever found you were billed for the same item twice? Fighting these charges can be stressful but, fortunately, the Fair Credit Billing Act has your back.
Read on to find out more about the Fair Credit Billing Act and how it can protect you.
What is the FCBA?
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) applies to open-end credit accounts like credit cards and revolving charge accounts, like department store accounts. It doesn’t cover installment contracts such as any type of loan that is paid off in increments.
The legislation regulates procedures that come into play in the case of a billing error. Here are some examples of the billing errors it applies to:
- Unauthorized charges
- Charges that list the wrong date or amount
- Charges for goods and services you didn’t accept or that weren’t delivered as agreed
- Mail errors
- Failure to post payments, returns, and similar transactions
- Failure to send bills to your current address assuming the creditor has your current address on file at least 20 days before the billing period ends
Getting the FCBA to Work for You
If you are trying to fight a charge on your statement you must write the creditor at the address provided for ‘billing inquiries’. The dispute must contain your name, address, account number, and a description of the error.
A dispute letter should reach the creditor within 60 days of receiving the bill with the error. It’s always a good idea to send important correspondence, such as a billing dispute, certified mail so you have proof it was sent. It is also smart to keep all mail receipts as well as any documentation relevant to the transaction.
Once the creditor receives your letter, it will have 30 days to acknowledge its receipt in writing. The creditor must then resolve the dispute in 2 billing cycles or 90 days, whichever comes first.
What is the Investigation Process Like?
You will not be required to pay the disputed amount or any related charges while the investigation is taking place and the creditor can not take any legal action against you during that time. The charge, however, may be applied against your credit limit.
The creditor will also be unable to threaten your credit rating, report you as delinquent, accelerate your debt, or restrict or close your account during the investigation. It will be unable to deny you credit or discriminate against you in any way because you are challenging a charge.
An investigation may have one of the following three outcomes:
- The creditor may find that the charge was a mistake. If this is the case, it must notify you in writing to let you know the charge was an error and it must remove the charge and any related fees from your account.
- The creditor may find you owe a portion of the amount. In this situation, the creditor must inform you in writing of the amount you owe and why it is owed. You may request documentation that supports the creditor’s claims.
- If the creditor finds the charge is correct, it must notify you in writing to let you know the amount you owe and provide you with a written explanation of why you owe that amount. It is then up to the consumer to pay the full amount as well as any relevant fees. The consumer may also request paperwork that backs up the creditor’s findings.
If the creditor fails to properly follow any part of the investigation procedure or fails to honor your dispute, you may have rights against the creditor.
Additional Billing Rights
There are other regulations within the FCBA that applies to businesses that offer open-end credit. These businesses are required to do the following:
- Provide a written notice when you open an account, and periodically from then on, that describes your right to dispute billing errors.
- Provide a statement for each billing period in which you owe or are owed more than one dollar
- Send you a bill at least 21 days before a payment is due on a credit card and at least 14 days before a minimum payment is due to avoid being late
- Credit all payments to your account on the day they were received unless there is no penalty that will result from their failure to do so.
- Promptly credit and refund overpayments.
Filing a Complaint
If you are having trouble with a company that you feel has violated your FCBA rights, contact an attorney today. You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
If you take legal action, you may be awarded monetary damages plus twice the amount of any finance charge paid. You may also recover legal fees and costs associated with the litigation.
If you are looking for an FCBA lawyer in the state of Louisiana, the Scott, Vicknair, Hair & Checki team can help. With years of experience in the field of consumer protection, they will work hard to bring you justice.
Samuel Ford of SVHC offers free consultations and, if you have a claim, you may be able to recover all associated costs and attorney’s fees, meaning SVHC may be able to represent you at no cost to you! Contact Samuel Ford today!