The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) is a subsection of the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA). It is an important federal law for all consumers since it contains the billing error procedures at sections 1666 and 1666(a). These billing error procedures most commonly assist consumers when they are disputing credit card transactions on their credit card statements for which they do not believe that they should be held liable. The billing error procedures under the FCBA are one option available to consumers. They are separate and apart from other dispute rights under TILA, such as protections for unauthorized use of a credit card and a credit card holder’s right to assert claims and defenses against the credit card issuer. Failure to invoke the billing error procedures does not prevent a consumer from asserting these other protections but, in our view, it is always a good idea to assert FCBA rights for any transaction on a credit card billing statement that a consumer does not think is correctly his or hers.
To invoke the provisions of the FCBA, a consumer must submit a billing error notice in writing to the creditor no later than sixty days after the creditor first transmitted the first periodic statement that reflects the billing error. The sixty day period begins to run when the creditor first sends a statement to the consumer who alleges the billing error. As a result, we urge consumers to immediately review each and every credit card statement that they get immediately upon receipt. If there is an error, then they must immediately dispute it in writing by identifying the transaction, the transaction date, who the listed creditor is, the account number, the amount and any other identifying information. The consumer also needs to make sure that he or she clearly identifies himself or herself in the dispute. The dispute should be in writing, signed and dated and mailed by certified mail, return receipt to insure that the consumer can prove receipt of the billing dispute. The dispute should be mailed directly to the credit card billing statement and a copy should also be mailed to the merchant that is showing the error. We urge consumers to keep copies of all of these documents and proof of receipts of the signed green card from the postal service. If the error is not corrected, then the consumer may pursue remedies under the law.
In sum, consumers should immediately review all credit card billing statements to make sure they are correct. If there is an erroneous entry or charge on the credit card billing statement, it must be disputed immediately in writing and proof of receipt of the dispute is critical and it must be done no later than sixty days from the date of the statement though our strong recommendation is to dispute an erroneous credit charge immediately.
If you have any questions regarding this law as it relates to your credit card statements or any other issues, please feel free to contact one of our offices nearest to you.