How to Fix Incorrect Credit Card Bills
Credit card statements frequently contain billing errors. As a consumer, it’s up to you to verify your expenses each month and notify your lender of any mistakes. When doing so, it’s important to follow the rules to be taken seriously and achieve speedy resolution.
Watch out for these common mistakes: returned items, not credited, fees for items or services not received, charges made by someone else, unidentifiable charges, calculation errors, or statements not provided with regularity.
When you find charges on your account that either don’t belong to you, or are incorrect, you can dispute them to have them removed or corrected. Creditors are required to provide you with a formal process to make corrections in a timely manner.
When you find an error, the first thing you need to do is document the mistake in letter format and send it to your creditor. Don’t just mark up your statement and return it. That is not considered formal notification. Include your name, explanation, and dollar amount involved in the letter. Also reference your account number and send supporting documentation with it.
Creditors usually have an address designated just for such complaints, so be sure to use that one. Remember to keep a copy of everything you send in your letter. You have sixty days from your billing date in which to file a dispute.
When you receive you next bill, you still need to make payments on any undisputed charges. However, you don’t have to pay anything on the portion in dispute or the related finance charges.
You must receive acknowledgment of your complaint within thirty days, unless corrections are already made. Within ninety days, or two billing cycles (whichever is less), the creditor is required to either resolve your dispute or offer their explanation for not dropping the charges. While your case is pending, automatic payments and finance charges related to the dispute must cease. Payments and finance charges for unrelated purchases are allowed to continue.
Your creditor is not allowed to report the amount in dispute as delinquent to the credit bureau during the investigation period. They also cannot send your account to collections during this time.
You may continue to see the disputed charges on your statement, until the issue is resolved. The disputed amount can however, still be used in calculating your overall credit limit, lowering your available credit. You will also probably continue to accrue interest on the disputed amount. All related interest must be dropped if the issue is resolved in your favor.
If your complaint is not settled in your favor, you have ten days in which to respond if you are not satisfied Restate your explanation in a second letter sent to your creditor. If your creditor chooses to report your account as delinquent to the credit bureaus as this time, your explanation must accompany the report. They then have to tell you the name and address of anyone they reported the delinquency to.
If your dispute is finally resolved, anyone who received notice of your delinquency must be given the updated status. Any creditor that fails to follow through on these actions will have to credit you the disputed amount, plus interest up to $50., even if they were right.
The frequency of credit card errors makes it prudent to review your statements every month. You have the right to dispute inaccuracies and unauthorized fees. However, you have to follow certain protocols, just like the credit card companies do. You can avoid paying more than you owe if you take prompt and decisive action when you recognize there has been a mistake.