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If your credit card statement contains a fraudulent charge or some kind of billing error, you may be eligible for consumer protection under a federal law called the Fair Credit Billing Act. This Act allows a consumer to dispute certain charges on their statement if they used their credit card or another “open end” credit account.
If you believe your statement contains a billing error, or you have a problem with the delivery of goods or services purchased with your credit card, contact an experienced consumer law attorney in Long Island to begin crafting your best legal strategy.
Contact the law firm of Andrew M. Doktofsky, P.C. at (631) 673-9600 for a consultation about your billing error or other consumer issues in New York. Call today to discuss your consumer law questions throughout the areas of Suffolk County and Nassau County, New York.
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), which is part of the federal Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. § 1601), provides consumers with certain rights and protections regarding billing errors.
The FCBA only applies to open-end credit. Open end credit covers credit card accounts and lines of credit, including home equity lines of credit. However, it does not cover anything that is repaid over time through a fixed payment plan or an installment repayment plan. Credit and loans not covered include:
The FCBA was enacted to protect consumers against unfair billing practices and to provide a method for consumers to address billing disputes.
The Fair Credit Billing Act applies to the following errors and disputes:
Disputes about the quality of the goods or services are not considered billing errors, so if the product is unsatisfactory, the consumer would have to pursue legal remedies against the merchant directly.
To preserve your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must:
During the investigation of the billing dispute, the creditor must not attempt to collect the disputed amount from you, including finance charges. Although the creditor cannot close or restrict your account during the investigation, they can apply the amount against your limit. Additionally, the creditor cannot report you as delinquent to credit agencies and cannot threaten your credit rating. They can, however, report that you challenged the amount on your bill.
You also cannot be denied credit from other creditors simply because you disputed your bill.
After you send the creditor notice of the disputed amount, they must acknowledge receipt of the notice within 30 days of receipt, unless they have already resolved the error. After receiving notice, the creditor has two billing cycles, but no more than 90 days, to resolve the billing error dispute.
The creditor must conduct a reasonable investigation regarding the billing error. If the creditor determines that there was no billing error, they must send you a written explanation as to the reasons why. They are also required to inform you of any amount you owe, including minimum amounts, finance charges and late fees. Additionally, if you make a request, the creditor must send you documentary evidence of your indebtedness.
If the creditor determines that there was a billing error, it must correct the error and remove all finance charges, late fees and any other charges related to the disputed amount.
If you continue to dispute the creditor’s bill amount, you have ten days to indicate that you do not intend to pay the disputed amount after receiving the creditor’s explanation. The creditor may then choose to begin collections against you. However, if you are reported as delinquent to credit agencies, your report must state that you refused to pay the balance because you believe you do not owe it.
If a creditor fails to follow the provisions of the Fair Credit Billing Act and comply with the requirements as set forth above, the consumer may bring a lawsuit against the creditor in either state or federal court.
If the court finds that the creditor violated the terms of the FCBA, the consumer is entitled to recover actual damages, statutory damages (two times the amount of any finance charges, with a minimum of $500 and maximum of $5,000), attorney’s fees and costs.
It is essential to contact an attorney as soon as a billing error or dispute with your creditor occurs. Consumers only have a one year statute of limitations (SOL) to file a lawsuit for a violation of the Fair Credit Billing Act, which begins one year from the date of the violation.
Federal Trade Commission – Fair Credit Billing – This link is to information about the federal Fair Credit Billing Act, including how to file a claim under the Act, disputes are that can be resolved under the Act, and any consumer remedies against creditors who violate the Act.
Fair Credit Billing Act – This link is to a PDF of the Fair Credit Billing Act in its entirety, which is codified in the Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. § 1601).The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) was created to provide consumers a remedy against unfair creditor practices and billing disputes.
The Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York - This court serves the Eastern District of New York, including the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn and Queens, and is a unit of the U.S District Court. All bankruptcy proceedings in the Eastern District of New York are filed in this court.
Contact the law firm of Andrew M. Doktofsky, P.C. today at (631) 673-9600 for a free consultation about your Fair Credit Billing Act violation claim throughout Suffolk County and Nassau County, New York. Andrew Doktofsky is an experienced consumer law attorney in Long Island who will advise you on the proper procedures to follow when disputing credit card billing errors.