debt

Don't let bill errors empty your wallet

Errors on your credit card bill
Errors on your credit card bill © David Evison/Shutterstock.com

If there's a transaction you don't recognize on your credit card statement, a simple phone call may resolve the issue, says Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. "Maybe the merchant uses a different name for billing," Wu says. For example, the restaurant where you ate lunch may bill using the name of the adjacent motel because the same company owns both businesses.

But if the charge was made in error, remember, that phone call does not protect your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, Wu cautions. To be protected, you need to send your dispute in writing to the credit card company within 60 days, she says. During an investigation, your credit card company can't report the unpaid charge as delinquent. Nor can the company try to collect payment on that charge, she adds.

Takeaway: Call first when you notice bill errors, but write within 60 days if the problem isn't resolved.

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