Stand up to your credit card company
Got a beef with your credit card company? If customer service won't help, you may want to bring your credit card dispute to someone who carries a bigger proverbial stick.
You have a lot of choices. A number of agencies are ready to stand with you during disputes over interest rates, mysterious charges, stolen credit card numbers and a host of other credit card issues.
Bankrate has compiled a list of some of the biggest players, ranging from nonprofits to government agencies. Check out where they're located, how they can help and the best ways to contact them.
Credit card police: The BBB
The Better Business Bureau is a nonprofit that takes complaints from consumers, publishes free reviews on credit card companies and assigns the companies "grades" based on its opinion of the business. The headquarters vary by state.
When to use: You have mysterious charges on your credit card.
How they help: If you cannot work out your grievance with your credit card company, the agency offers free mediation and arbitration services. Most issues are typically resolved within 30 days.
Contact: File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
Credit card police: The FTC
The Federal Trade Commission is a government agency that's responsible for preventing unfair business practices for consumers. The headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
When to use: You want to file a complaint against your credit card company.
How they help: The bureau does not resolve individual consumer complaints, but it documents them and works with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, to regulate consumer financial products and services.
Contact: Contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Credit card police: The CFPB
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a government agency that polices banks and other financial companies with the goal of restricting unfair or deceptive acts. The headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
When to use: You have billing and annual percentage rate/interest rate disputes, issues with closing an account, or concerns about identity theft or fraud.
How they help: Once you file a complaint, the bureau will forward the grievance to the credit card company, giving it 15 days to respond, with the expectation of resolving the issue within 60 days. The bureau can take civil action against companies.
Contact: File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Credit card police: Your state attorney general
The state attorneys general are chief legal advisers and law enforcement officers for each state government. The headquarters vary by state.
When to use: The state is investigating claims of shady practices by your credit card company.
How they help: Your attorney general can file a lawsuit against your credit card company but only as counsel for the state (not for you personally).
Contact: Check out the contact list for all state attorneys general offices nationwide to determine if your complaint warrants attention.
Credit card police: The Secret Service
The Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency that's responsible for protecting the nation's financial infrastructure and payment systems. The agency is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
When to use: Your credit card number has been "skimmed" on an ATM, or you're a victim of some other kind of ID theft.
How they help: The Secret Service conducts criminal investigations on those who have committed identity theft and fraud.
Contact: Your local Secret Service field office can determine if the issue falls within Secret Service jurisdiction.
Credit card police: The FBI
The Federal Bureau of Investigationis an investigative agency that tackles complex, elaborate cases of fraud posing a severe threat to the U.S. economy. The agency's headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
When to use: You're a victim of a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.
How they help: The FBI cannot levy fines but will refer your complaints, as needed, to the appropriate law enforcement or regulatory agency.
Contact: Find your local FBI office to determine if the violation falls within FBI jurisdiction.