There are few things more frustrating than receiving your monthly credit card bill and not understanding all of the charges included. You undoubtedly recognize the vast majority of your purchases, such as your fuel expenses, groceries, and dining out. What about the charges that do not occur with regularity on your bill? Did you take a vacation this month and rack up some extra dining charges? What about a shopping trip to a local outlet mall?
From time to time, billing errors may occur on your statement. In some cases, the errors are the result of innocent mistakes. Other times, billing errors are purposeful incidents meant to charge you for products and services you never used. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) gives you the power to fight back against errors on your bill.
What Constitutes a Billing Error under the FCBA
A primary goal of the FCBA was the establishment of definitions and examples of billing errors that fall under the provisions of the act. According to the FCBA, the following errors are identified as disputable:
- Charges not actually made by you, the consumer. For example, if your card is stolen and charges made before you can cancel it, you can dispute those charges and avoid liability.
- Inaccurate charge amounts. For example, if a waiter at a restaurant inaccurately reports your total bill, you can dispute the charge so the accurate amount is reflected.
- Charges for goods or services not received.
- Charges for goods or services not delivered as agreed upon. For example, if you’ve paid for a new product that does not arrive in the promised condition, you have the right to dispute the total charge.
- Charges for goods that were damaged upon delivery.
- Failure to properly reflect payments or credits to an account. For example, if you return an item to a retail store and it is accidentally placed on your account as another charge, rather than a credit.
- Calculation errors.
- Charges you request proof of or request clarification of.
- Statements that are mailed to the incorrect address.
- Charges for products/goods that differ significantly from those described at the time of purchase.
Financial liability is at the heart of the FCBA. You should not be held responsible financially for charges that are incorrect, inaccurate, or altogether falsified. Not only should you not be held responsible for these charges, you deserve the right to fight back against a creditor that insists you pay the charges regardless of the circumstances.
Additional Regulations under the FCBA
In an effort to avoid the issue of billing errors, the FCBA also provides additional guidelines and regulations that try to prevent clashes between consumers and creditors. Among those regulations are the following:
- Creditors must provide billing statements at least 14 days before the payment is due, allowing for a grace period before adding finance charges to your payments.
- When banks report payments as delinquent to a credit bureau, they must also report when a charge is disputed.
- Credit card companies are prohibited from blocking merchant discounts to consumers who pay with cash or check instead of credit.
- Your bank may not use money in your checking or savings account to pay a delinquent credit account you have open with that same institution.
- Under the FCBA, you have the right to sue a credit company in a dispute about the quality of the goods or services received, but only to the extent of the dollar amount of the charges in question.
Seek Help with the FCBA
The Fair Credit Billing Act is a complex law, and unless you’re a legal expert, you may feel overwhelmed. If you have noticed billing errors on your credit accounts and aren’t sure what recourse to take, you can contact the lawyers at Vullings Law. It is our job to understand the FCBA from front to back, and we’re here to advise you on your options and represent you in court if necessary. Contact us today if you need to challenge billing errors by your creditor(s).