Credit Laws

How to Dispute a Credit Card Billing Statement

how to dispute a credit card bill

The Truth in Lending Act gives consumers the right to challenge errors on their credit card statements.

If you discover a problem with your credit card statement there are several actions you can take to dispute a credit card bill. The most common credit card disputes arise from unauthorized use of your card, incorrect amount owed on your card and problems with the quality of the goods or services purchased.

Fortunately for consumers with credit cards, there are Credit Laws that give you clout. One such law is Fair Credit Billing Act that is part of the Truth in Lending Act. Under the law, you have the right to dispute a credit card bill. To protect your rights, you must dispute in writing a charge within 60 days of the date the statement on which the charge appeared was mailed to you.

Unauthorized Charges

Under the federal Truth in Lending Act your obligation for unauthorized use of your credit card is limited to $50. If your credit card is stolen or someone uses your card or card number without permission your credit card company can charge you a maximum of $50 no matter how much the thief has charged on your card but you must report the error within 60-days of receiving the account statement.

Most credit card issuers will waive the $50 “co-pay” if you notify them immediately after discovering the unauthorized charges. And if your card number was stolen and used without presenting the card (over the Internet, for example), you cannot be held responsible for that $50 under the same law.

You should dispute the charges with the credit card company via telephone and follow-up with a letter sent certified mail so you have a record that it was received.

Amount of Charges Don’t Add Up

If you were charged the wrong amount, have a recurring charge that won’t stop or simply don’t recognize it or believe you made the purchase; you can dispute any charges under the Fair Credit Billing Act as it may be considered a billing error.

To protect your rights, you must dispute a charge within 60 days of the date the statement on which the charge appeared was mailed to you. Put your dispute in writing to the address on your statement for billing errors and inquiries. Information about how to raise a dispute appears on the back of each billing statement – including the mailing address to use.

Unsatisfactory Goods or Services

The FCBA allows you to dispute a charge if the goods, services or merchandise you ordered are not satisfactory and even if they were never delivered as promised. You can declare it as a billing error. You must put your complaint in writing to the credit card company at the address for billing errors and inquiries.

The credit card company will contact the merchant and get them involved in the dispute. The merchant will be asked to provide an explanation. Typically the credit card company will either tell you that they have credited your account or get back to you with the merchant’s reply to your dispute.

Often a merchant whose billing is challenged will back off rather than risk losing the privilege of accepting business by credit card. You don’t have to pay the disputed amount while this investigation is underway, but you do have to pay the rest of your bill.

How to Properly Dispute a Charge

A dispute must be received in writing within sixty days of the first bill with the improper charge and you must include the following information:

  • Your name and account number
  • The dollar amount you dispute and information as to when it was charged
  • The name of the merchant
  • Reason for the dispute.

Reasons for disputes can include the following:

  • Did not authorize the charges
  • Did not receive the goods ordered
  • Goods returned
  • Defective goods returned but did not get a credit
  • Merchant sent the wrong goods
  • Merchant did not complete the services or performed them incompletely
  • Merchant billed wrong amount
  • Merchant double billed me
  • Cancelled the contract with the merchant or contractor before the work was performed

Remember: To protect your rights, you must dispute a charge within 60 days of the date the statement on which the charge appeared was mailed to you. Put your dispute in writing to the address on your statement for billing errors and inquiries. A phone call does not protect your rights.

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