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Educational Consumer Tips

Unauthorized Credit Card Billing

Author: Rachel Gelb
Category: Finance

In 1975 the U.S. Congress passed the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) to help consumers resolve their dispute with creditors and to ensure the fair handling of credit charges.

If you find an unauthorized credit card billing, you have 60 days to contact your credit card issuer after your statement was mailed to you. Often, card issuers cannot do anything to resolve a dispute until the charge appears on your statement. Therefore, under circumstances where you have given your credit card number to a solicitor over the telephone, contacting your credit card issuer before you receive your statement with the unauthorized charge may prove useless.

Better Business Bureau routinely recommends that consumers not give their credit card information when solicited over the telephone.

When you have received your statement with the unauthorized charge, contact your card issuer and be prepared with your credit card number and an explanation of when and how the charge might have occurred. Send a letter by certified mail with a return receipt request to the person you spoke with at the card issuer office; that way you'll have proof of dates of the mailing and a receipt. In that letter include the following:

1.     A copy of your credit card statement showing your name and credit card number and the unauthorized charge in dispute.

2.     A statement explaining the billing error and the dollar amount involved.

Your card issuer must respond to your letter within 30 days after it is received unless the problem is resolved within that period.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces FCBA for almost all creditors. While the FTC cannot represent individual, private disputes, any information regarding consumer experience in these matters is vital to the enforcement of the FCBA. For information about the FCBA in your state, contact your local FTC office.

About the Author: Rachel Gelb is Communications and Marketing Manager for BBB serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Find Rachel on Google +.

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