The Fair Credit Billing Act (“FCBA”) provides a consumer the right and ability to dispute errors on their credit card or bank statements. The dispute occurs, by definition, before the debt is placed with a debt collection company.
If you notice an improper charge on your credit card or bank statement, you have 60 days from the date the first error was mailed to you to send written notice to the creditor, disputing the error, at the address it provides for billing inquiries (as opposed to the address you would typically mail a payment).
Your dispute notice must identify your name and account number, the belief that the credit card or bank statement contains a billing error, the amount of the error, and the reason you believe the statement contains a billing error.
The creditor then has 30 days from receipt of your written dispute to send you a written acknowledgement that it has received your dispute; 90 days within which to conduct a reasonable investigation and either correct your account (and notify you of any such corrections), or send you a written explanation of why the creditor believes the disputed statement is accurate.
You can also dispute your credit card or bank statement in situations where you buy something at the store or over the internet and the goods are not delivered to you. The creditor cannot charge you for the amount unless it can show the goods were actually delivered to you.
For as long as the creditor is investigating your claim, the creditor is prohibited from taking any action to collect the disputed amount. For example it can’t threaten your credit rating, report you as delinquent, accelerate your debt, or restrict or close your account because your bill is in dispute.
In the event you disagree with the results of the investigation, you have 10 days to send a second written notice to the creditor stating the amount is still in dispute. At that point the creditor cannot report the amount to a third party as delinquent without also notifying the third party that the amount is in dispute, and at the same time, notify you of the name and address for each party to whom the creditor reports any information regarding the disputed amount.
This act does not apply to disputed finance charges made by your creditor.
You have 1 year from the date of the violation to file a lawsuit under the FCBA.