If you discover a problem with your credit card statement there are several actions you can take to dispute a credit card bill.
The most common credit card disputes arise from unauthorized use of your card, incorrect amount owed on your card, and problems with the quality of the goods or services purchased.
Fortunately for consumers with credit cards, there are laws that give you clout.
One such law is the Fair Credit Billing Act which is part of the Truth in Lending Act. Under the law, you have the right to dispute a credit card bill. To protect your rights, you must dispute in writing a charge within 60 days of the date the statement on which the charge appeared was mailed to you. The credit card company is allowed to take up to two billing cycles to resolve any errors it finds.
How to Dispute a Credit Card Billing Error
Under the FCBA there are several billing errors that can be disputed:
Most billing errors are simply just errors that can result from a simple mistake or something more serious like a fraudulent transaction. Billing errors can be incorrect charges or fees on your credit card statement, any transaction you didn’t make, or give permission to anyone else to make.
Unauthorized charges can result from a merchant failing to credit your card back after a return, when you’re charged the wrong amount for a purchase, when a vendor accidentally overcharges you, or charges you twice for a product or service.
Any transaction you didn’t make or give permission to anyone else to make. These are usually fraudulent transactions made by someone who got access to your credit card details. For example, you may notice a charge from a store you’ve never been to or a recurring monthly payment you haven’t authorized.
Charges for goods or services you didn’t receive
You may get charged for a product or service that you didn’t accept or wasn’t delivered to you. A merchant may fail to post a return or a charge is simply unclear on your statement causing you to require more information
Charges for goods and services you are unsatisfied with
The FCBA allows you to dispute a charge if the goods, services, or merchandise you ordered are not satisfactory and even if they were never delivered as promised. You can declare it as a billing error. You must put your complaint in writing to the credit card company at the address for billing errors and inquiries.
The credit card company will contact the merchant and get them involved in the dispute. The merchant will be asked to provide an explanation. Typically the credit card company will either tell you that they have credited your account or get back to you with the merchant’s reply to your dispute.
Often a merchant whose billing is challenged will back off rather than risk losing the privilege of accepting business by credit card. You don’t have to pay the disputed amount while this investigation is underway, but you do have to pay the rest of your bill.
Plus, purchase protection will reimburse you to replace an eligible item you’ve purchased if it’s lost, stolen, or damaged accidentally within a predetermined period—typically 60 to 120 days.
Charges for the wrong amount
If you were charged incorrectly, have an unwanted recurring charge, or simply don’t recognize a charge or believe you made the purchase, you can dispute any charges under the Fair Credit Billing Act as it may be considered a billing error. To protect your rights, you must dispute a charge within 60 days of the date the statement on which the charge appeared was mailed to you. Put your dispute in writing to the address on your statement for billing errors and inquiries. Information about how to raise a dispute appears on
Math errors on your credit card statements
Mathematical errors sometimes occur, but very rarely. However, if you discover made a mistake when calculating your monthly balance or interest owing, that type of error should be challenged.
Payments or credits that didn’t post to your account
When a merchant fails to credit your card back after you’ve made a return, this can result in a billing error.
Dispute bills that weren’t mailed to you
When your creditor doesn’t send you a monthly statement you can dispute late charges and fees you may incur, unless you failed to notify your credit card issuer of changes to your address at least 20 days before the end of the billing cycle.
Time is of the essence
You have 60 days from the date your monthly statement is issued to notify your credit card issuer of an error. If more than 60 days have passed, the credit card company has no obligation to take action.
Under the federal Truth in Lending Act your obligation for unauthorized use of your credit card is limited to $50. If your credit card is stolen or someone uses your card or card number without permission your credit card company can charge you a maximum of $50 no matter how much the thief has charged on your card but you must report the error within 60-days of receiving the account statement.
Most credit card issuers will waive the $50 “co-pay” if you notify them immediately after discovering the unauthorized charges. And if your card number was stolen and used without presenting the card (over the Internet, for example), you cannot be held responsible for that $50 under the same law.
Only credit cards are covered by the FBCA
The Fair Credit Billing Act only applies to revolving credit accounts, like a credit card or a line of credit. Installment loans or other types of fixed credit agreements aren’t covered by the law.
How to Properly Dispute a Charge
Sending your letter via certified mail will give you a timestamp in case you ever need to prove that you made your dispute in time. A dispute must be received in writing within sixty (60) days of the first bill with the inaccurate charge and you must include the following information:
- Your name and account number
- The dollar amount you dispute and information as to when it was charged
- The name of the merchant
- Reason for the dispute.
Reasons for disputes can include the following:
- Did not authorize the charges
- Did not receive the goods ordered
- Goods returned
- Defective goods returned but did not get a credit
- Merchant sent the wrong goods
- Merchant did not complete the services or performed them incompletely
- Merchant billed wrong amount
- Merchant double billed me
- Cancelled the contract with the merchant or contractor before the work was performed
Remember: To protect your rights, you must dispute a charge within 60 days of the date the statement on which the charge appeared was mailed to you. Put your dispute in writing to the address on your statement for billing errors and inquiries. A phone call does not protect your rights.