Were you charged for an item on your Visa or MasterCard that you didn’t purchase? Here’s how to fix a mistake on your credit card bill and ensure you don’t have to pay for stuff you didn’t buy!
“Always review credit card statements carefully,” says Ethan Ewing, president of Bills.com. “Be sure you recognize every charge on a statement. Fraudulent activity on a credit card can begin with a few small charges as criminals test. That is, a thief can test whether Visa or MasterCard cardholders pay attention to their bills. If you suspect someone is making fraudulent charges to your account, contact your credit card provider immediately.”
My husband reviews our Visa credit card bill online every few days; if there are wrong charges, he catches them fairly quickly (though we haven’t had a wrong charge on our credit card for years!). Catch those errors early, my friends. For more general financial info, read Money Management for Those Who Don’t Have Any.
And, read on for Ewing’s advice about fixing mistakes on your credit card bills…
How to Fix Mistakes on Your Credit Card Bill
1. Gather information about the mistake on your credit card. Collect data to explain specifically why you are disputing the wrong charge on your credit card bill. Is the amount incorrect? Is the charge for a purchase you did not receive? Is the merchant unknown to you? Collect receipts, warranties or any other paperwork that supports the case. And, read 3 Tips for Managing Credit Card Accounts for additional info on keeping your Visa or MasterCard credit cards secure.
2. Contact the merchant who mistakenly charged your Visa or MasterCard. If a server misreads a tip amount or a store charged another customer’s purchase to your card, many businesses are willing to correct the wrong charge themselves. This is the fastest and easiest way way to fix a mistake on your credit card bill.
3. Contact the credit card issuer (eg, Visa or MasterCard). When a merchant cannot or will not correct a transaction, the credit card issuer can help. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), customers must notify the credit card issuer that they are disputing a transaction within 60 days of the error. Notify the card issuer in writing to protect your legal rights, with a letter such as this sample dispute letter. To report unauthorized credit card use, calling is acceptable and prudent (to stop potential fraud quickly). Send correspondence via certified mail to obtain proof of delivery. The credit card company is legally required to correct the billing error within 90 days of receiving the written notice.
4. Know the credit card rules. The FCBA only applies to revolving accounts without a set balance, such as credit cards. Installment loans — such as loans to purchase a car or appliances — do not qualify. Laws limit consumers’ liability for unauthorized credit card use to $50, but most banks do not hold cardholders responsible for that amount. While a charge is being disputed, the customer does not need to pay the contested amount or interest that accrues on the credit card bill. He or she must, however, pay for other charges and related interest as usual. If the dispute is denied, the credit card company can charge interest back to the dispute date, in addition to the charge itself.
5. Take serious action to fix mistakes on Visa or MasterCard Bills. If the dispute is denied and you believe the decision is unfair, you have the option of filing a complaint with your state attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission. You also could file a lawsuit, but legal cases can be long and expensive. If you choose this route, consider seeking an attorney who will accept awarded damages as payment, in case the case is longer and costs more money than you anticipate.
For more info on credit cards, read 7 Types of Credit Card Fees — And How to Avoid Them.
And if you’re struggling with credit card debt, read 30 Ways to Make Money on the Side.
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