How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge

It’s wise to check your credit card bills carefully each month, line by line, to make sure all the charges are accurate.  Occasionally you may find something that doesn’t belong there.

Or you may already be fully aware of something you are being charged for, but have an objection to it.

In either case, when you want to dispute a credit card charge, what do you do?

Actually the easiest thing to do, which will settle the matter the majority of the time, is simply to drop a call to your credit card company and explain the problem.  They will look into it and deduct the charge from your bill if they agree with you (and a lot of times even if they don’t, especially for disputes involving small amounts, just to keep a customer happy).

But sometimes things aren’t that simple, the credit card company (nor the creditor) is not amenable to a simple phone call, and it’s necessary to approach things more “formally.”

In that case it’s important to know your rights, and to know the proper way to proceed.

The 1974 Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) amendment to the Truth in Landing Act protects consumers from unfair credit and charge card billing, and provides ways to contest erroneous charges on your bill.

Under the FCBA, you are protected against the following illegitimate charges:

* Charges that are not yours.

* Charges with an inaccurate date and time.

* Charges with an inaccurate price.

* Charges for items that you refused or were not delivered as agreed.

* Charges for items that were received damaged or not in the condition agreed.

* Failure to include applicable credits for payments and returns.

* Bills sent to the wrong address, if address change had been provided at least 20 days earlier.

* Inclusion of charges for which you’ve already provided written notice of dispute and the dispute has not yet been resolved.

* Calculation errors.

In the case of any problems of these types, here’s what you should do:

1.  Report the problem in writing to the address provided on your credit card statement within 60 days.  Identify yourself and your account number, specify what the error is, and explain why you contend that it is an error.

2.  Wait for a response from the credit card company.  Under the law, their obligation is to acknowledge receipt of your dispute letter, conduct a reasonable investigation to determine if there is indeed an error, and suspend your obligation to pay the disputed amount until the investigation is completed. 

If the investigation determines that there has been an error, the credit card company is then obligated to correct the error, refund any related charges that occurred as the result of the error (e.g., interest), send a notice to you informing you of the correction(s) made, and report the resolution to any credit bureau to which they had erroneously reported a delinquency. 

If the investigation determines that there has not been an error, the credit card company must send you a letter explaining why they believe there is no error.

3.  If you are not satisfied with the response from the credit card company, report the matter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which enforces the FCBA.