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Disputing a credit card charge

Nothing can be more frustrating than disputing a charge with a credit card company. The good news is that you have federal law on your side. The Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to challenge billing errors such as math mistakes, unauthorized charges, charges for goods and services you didn't accept or weren't delivered as agreed, or charges that list the wrong date or amount.

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You naturally want the problem solved as quickly as possible, so your first inclination probably is to pick up the phone and tell your card company about the mistake. That's fine. But follow up with a letter. In fact, if you've ever read the fine print on a credit card bill, you've probably seen this notice: Calling about billing errors will not preserve your rights.

Written correspondence gives you the opportunity to clearly state why the charge is an error or other reason that it should be removed from your account. Plus, when you send it by certified mail, return receipt requested, the document serves as a record that you made the effort to correct the problem charge. It can be a valuable reference tool if you need to follow up on the matter.

Just be sure you don't delay your correspondence duties. The deadline for notifying your credit card company of the incorrect charge is 60 days from the date the bill was mailed to you. Your credit card company also has deadlines. The creditor must resolve the dispute within two billing cycles, but not more than 90 days, after getting your letter.

To make the process go as smoothly as possible, send the letter to "Billing Inquiries," not to "Customer Service." Be sure to send it to the correct address; it probably isn't the same one to which you send your payments. The back of your statement should list the appropriate addresses for specific customer inquiries.

The form letter below should help you get your billing dispute under way. Personalize it by entering your specifics in the areas in red. You can print out this Web page and make your changes by hand or copy the body of the letter and paste it into a document where you can make your changes on your PC.


Billing Inquiries Department
Credit Card Company Name
Company's Address
City, State and ZIP Code

Re: Disputed charge on card name account number

Dear Sir or Madam:

On my most recent credit card statement, which closed on statement closing date and which I received on date, there was a dollar amount charge made at retailer name and address. This charge, made on date, posted to my account on date.

I am disputing the charge, which is circled on the enclosed copy of my statement.

I did not authorize any purchases at retailer to be charged to my account. Elaborate on your reason for disputing the charge. For example, the product was never ordered or delivered, the product or service was not what the merchant promised or the amount charged was incorrect.

If you did buy the item, but the amount of the purchase is incorrect on your statement, note here that you also are enclosing a copy of the original charge slip showing the correct amount for which you should be billed.

As required by the Federal Fair Credit Billing Act, please adjust my account in the above-referenced amount since repeat here why you are disputing the charge. Please remove the dollar amount charge from my bill and notify me in writing by sending me a new statement showing the correction.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me by mail at the address listed below or call me at your telephone number. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Respectfully yours,
Your Signature
Your Typed Name
City, State and ZIP Code

Enclosure: credit card statement and original charge slip if applicable

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: Oct. 23, 2003
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