If you’ve ever been billed for goods that you either returned or never received, or if your credit card company has ever charged you twice for an item or failed to credit your account with a payment, there are a few steps you can take to correct these errors .
1. Fair Credit Billing Act
The Fair Credit Billing Act applies to “open” credit accounts such as credit cards and revolving fee accounts such as department store accounts. Installment contracts — loans or loan extensions that you pay back on a fixed schedule — are not included. Cars, furniture and large appliances are often bought on installments and personal loans are also repaid in installments.
2. Billing Errors
The Fair Credit Billing Act only applies to “billing error” disputes. For example:
– Unauthorized Charges. Federal law limits your liability for unauthorized charges to $50;
Charges that contain the wrong date or amount.
– Charges for goods and services which you have not accepted or which have not been delivered as agreed.
– Calculation error.
– Non-posting of payments and other credits, such as returns.
– Failure to send invoices to your current address – provided the creditor has your change of address in writing at least 20 days before the end of the billing period.
– Charges for which you require an explanation or written proof of purchase, along with a claimed error or request for clarification.
3. Exercise your rights
In order to be able to claim statutory consumer protection, you must:
– Send your letter so that it reaches the creditor within 60 days of the first erroneous invoice that was sent to you. It is a good idea to send your letter by registered mail; ask for a return receipt so you have proof of what the creditor received. Include copies (not originals) of sales receipts or other documents that support your position. Keep a copy of your objection letter.
– The creditor must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days of receipt unless the issue has been resolved. The creditor must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles (but no longer than 90 days) of receiving your letter.
4. The investigation
You may withhold payment of the disputed amount (and associated fees) during the investigation. You must pay any non-disputable portion of the bill, including financing charges on the undisputed amount.