Everybody makes mistakes and errors from time to time, even the credit card companies. When it concerns your accounts, doesn’t it seem like the credit card companies make more than their fair share of mistakes? And to make matters worse, doesn’t it appear that they do not like to fix them? This had become such a wide spread problem that Congress had to get involved. They enacted legislation that required credit card companies to improve their error checking and correction policies. Called the Federal Fair Credit Billing Act, it was designed to protect you against the very real and very cruel billing practices of credit card companies.
Before this legislation was enacted, it could take months or even years to get your account straighten out if there was a mistake on your bill. Unfortunately this problem has resurfaced and it appears some credit card companies are using this tactic to offset the record write offs they are experiencing in today’s uncertain economic conditions. The Act established specific procedures for clearing up errors on your bill that the company must follow and limits the amount of time the card company may take to correct the error. If they fail to comply, the Act has set up substantial financial penalties the card company is required to pay you.
Credit contract fine print allows credit card companies to institute any reason rate hikes and late fee traps that are costing consumers additional millions everyday. The government is addressing this issue and drafting new legislation to put an end to these tactics. Some of the governmental recommendations include: credit-card issuers offer a basic “plain-vanilla” card as a default option for consumers, new protections so that card users won’t face sudden surprising jumps in fees, rules that require card companies to publish their contract in plain laymen’s language with no more fine print, the availability of customer-friendly comparison shopping on credit-card offers, and greater regulatory enforcement and penalties so that violators feel the full weight of the law.
If any of these irregularities results in errors on your credit card bill, you can do something about it. Under the current legislation, if you call it a billing error, the law says the credit card company must treat it as a billing error. If the card company does not follow the procedures established by the Federal Fair Credit Billing Act for handling billing errors, you do not have to pay the company the amount in dispute whether your were right or wrong about the error, up to a predetermined maximum amount.
To get billing errors fixed you must write to the card company within 60 days of the mailing of the bill with the problem charged on it. Do not telephone, if you do, you may possibly lose all your legal rights. In your letter you should include the phrase “billing error”. Make sure you send the letter to the correct address. This is probably not the same address you send your card payment to. Most card companies specify where they want you to send questions or billing error inquires. You must include in your letter, your account number, your name, address and date your letter, a copy of the credit card statement that has the billing error on it and the reason that there is a billing error.
You should keep a copy of the letter for your records. It is also a good idea to use some type of delivery confirmation such as return receipt request via the U.S.P.S. The card company must respond within 30 days, to notify you they have received your letter and are addressing the problem. The card company must complete their reasonable investigation and respond to your request for correction of billing error within 90 days or 2 billing periods from the time it gets your original letter, whichever is shorter. If the card company ignores your letter, the Fair Credit Billing Act clearly says they cannot collect the amount you claim is a billing error, up to $50.
The credit card company should credit it to your account automatically when they discover they have indeed made an error or they failed to respond to your billing error request in the allotted time. If the credit card company ignores your timely submitted billing error notice you should submit another delivery confirmation letter to the card company. With the second letter, in which you notify them they failed to respond to original letter, you should include a copy of all the documents you submitted with your first letter. Continued failure of the card company to respond to your billing error can be resolved with a complaint directly to the Federal Reserve Board, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs.
You, the credit card user have rights. Any reason rate hikes and late fee traps are unfair. They create numerous billing errors. It is your right to get the credit card company to correct these errors. Here is your blueprint on how to do it. Use this information to reclaim your money. You can do something about credit card billing errors and win. Do it!