If your credit card has ever been charged by a third party for something you did not authorize or for goods or services that you never received or did not accept, you can dispute the charges. The Fair Credit Billing Act sets out guidelines for disputing charges made by an open-end credit account like a credit card account. This act, however, does not apply to installment accounts such as a car loan.
Write a letter to the credit card company. You are required by the FCBA to write a letter to the credit card company within 60 days of receiving the bill with the disputed charges. In the letter, you must include your name, address, the account number and you must describe the error. For instance, if a third party charged you for merchandise that you did not purchase, you would inform the creditor that this was an unauthorized charge. Your letter should also include the amount in dispute and you should end the letter with a request for the creditor to fix the error as soon as possible. If you have supporting documentation, you should send this with the letter.
Mail the letter. You must send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. This will ensure that you have proof that you mailed the letter and that the credit card company received it. It is important to keep a copy of the letter and the originals of any documents you send with the letter. The creditor must send you a written acknowledgement of your letter within 30 days of receiving it. The creditor has two billing cycles, or no more than 90 days, to reach a resolution.
Withhold payment for the amount for which you were incorrectly billed. While the credit card company investigates the dispute, you are not required to pay this amount and the related finance charges. The credit card company is not allowed to restrict access to your account or to close it.
- After the creditor investigates your dispute, it will determine whether the bill is correct. If the creditor finds that the charge from the third party was correct, it will charge you the disputed amount, plus any additional finance charges. You have 10 days to object to this determination in writing. At this point, if you do not pay the amount charged, the creditor can report that you are delinquent, but it must make a note on the credit report that you dispute the charges.
Jessica McElrath has been a freelance writer since 2000. McElrath is the author of "The Everything John F. Kennedy Book" and "The Everything Martin Luther King Jr. Book." McElrath has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.