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Fraudulent or unauthorized credit card charges can be disputed

You receive your credit card bill in the mail. As you start to scan it, you see strange purchases that you haven't made. Or maybe you see that you have been overcharged for something you purchased. What do you do?

Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), you have the right to dispute purchases on your credit card bill that are fraudulent, unauthorized or otherwise unsatisfactory. The FCBA also allows you to withhold payment without hurting your credit. The card issuers must investigate any disputed charges, and fix them if they are wrong.

Below are some of the details regarding the FCBA, and how it can protect your consumer rights:

  • You have 60 days from the billing date to dispute a charge. It is also a good idea to monitor your statements online, which can be particularly helpful for catching errors.
  • Mail in your dispute. Sent the letter to your credit card issuer by certified mail and include your account number, the dollar amount you are disputing and why you think it is a mistake.
  • Call if your card is lost, stolen or used without your consent. Call the issuer if your card is lost or stolen, or if you discover unauthorized usage.
  • The investigation will take a few months. During the investigation, they cannot report your disputed charge as a late payment to credit bureaus, try to collect payment of the disputed portion or charge interest on it.
  • The issuer must give you the decision in writing. If the issuer agrees with the error, they must fix it and send you a correction notice. If they disagree with your claim, they must send you a written explanation.
  • You have the right to dispute the findings. You can challenge the investigation within 10 days of receiving a written explanation. If you are suspicious about the thoroughness of the issuer's investigation, you can ask for the proof they used to deny your claim.
  • Contact a lawyer. If you feel your rights are being ignored by the credit card company, contact an experienced consumer fraud attorney. 

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