• Fair Credit Billing Act

  • The Fair Credit Billing Act is part of the Truth In Lending Act. This law safeguards consumers against unfair billing and lays out the way errors are supposed to be corrected. This law can be used to get satisfaction from unfair business practices such as:

    • You are charged for something you didn’t buy.
    • The amount you are charged is wrong.
    • You never received the items, you received the wrong items, they weren’t delivered as agreed or were damaged when you got them.
    • You don’t get credit for your payments.
    • Statements are sent to the wrong address.

    This law gives the consumer a lot of fire power but you must know the rules. First, if you find a mistake, send a letter to the “billing inquires” address of the creditor, and not the address you send payments to. Once you spot the error on your statement, you have to make sure the creditor gets your dispute letter within sixty days of that statement date. For these reasons, it may be best to use an overnight mail delivery service or registered mail.

    Sometimes creditors allow you to dispute claims via online websites but that route may waive your protection under this law. Remember, you aren’t protected under the law if you can't prove you have taken action as prescribed by the law, so phoning in your gripe won't cut it.

    The creditor has to acknowledge they received your letter within 30 days and they have 90 days to either make the correction or explain to you why they aren’t going to. If you get turned down, you have the right to request all the creditor’s documentation proving there wasn't an error.

    Quick Note: This law has a hidden provision you can use with your credit card company. If you make a credit card purchase in your home state or within 100 miles of your home address and the dollar amount is more than $50, you can dispute the quality of what you received with the credit card company. As long as you make a "good faith" effort to work things out with the vendor, the credit card company will likely refund the amount you spent once you return the product or stop using the service.

    Enforcement

    The Federal Trade Commission administers this law so you can take up your grievance with them. Of course you can also file a lawsuit. assuming you win the suit, you might recover your actual damages plus twice the mistaken finance charges plus your attorney fees and other costs.