Fair Credit Billing Act
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 The Law Office of Andrew M. Doktofsky, P.C. to speak with an experienced consumer law attorney in Long Island to begin crafting your best legal strategy.
Long Island Fair Credit Billing Act Lawyer
Contact The Law Office of Andrew M. Doktofsky, P.C. at 631-812-7712 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.
Fair Credit Billing Act
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:
- Car loan payments
- Student loans
- Personal loans
The FCBA was enacted to protect consumers against unfair billing practices and to provide a method for consumers to address billing disputes.
New York Credit Card Billing Errors Covered Under The FCBA
The Fair Credit Billing Act applies to the following errors and disputes:
- Unauthorized charges, including charges or extensions of credit made by someone without the authority to use the account or purchases that weren’t made by the consumer;
- An incorrect amount is shown on the billing statement;
- Payments or credits were not posted to the credit account, including returns;
- Charges that are not identifiable from the information provided on the statement and the consumer requested an explanation or written proof of purchase, along with a claimed error or request for clarification;
- Charges for goods or services the consumer did not accept;
- Charges for goods or services that were not delivered or accepted as agreed, including non-delivery, late delivery, delivery of the wrong item or quantity, or the terms of delivery were not followed.
- Charges that list the wrong amount of the charge;
- Math or computation errors on the billing statement;
- Bills that were not sent to the current address.
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.
How To Preserve Your Rights Under The FCBA In New York
To preserve your rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must:
- Send written notice of the billing error to the creditor at the address provided by the creditor for “billing inquiries,” not the address where payments are sent. Notice given by telephone is not sufficient. In most situations, notice can be submitted electronically only if the creditor indicates in the periodic statement that it will accept electronic notices and provides instructions on how to do so.
- The notice must include your name, address, account number and the description of the billing error.
- The creditor must receive the notice within 60 days from the day the initial bill with the error was mailed to you.
- The notice should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested in order to have proof of delivery. Make sure to retain copies of any sales receipts, documents and a copy of the letter giving notice of the dispute.
- Include your name and account number. Indicate that you believe that the statement contains a billing error, and indicate the type, date and amount of the error.
- Pay for any part of the bill not in dispute, including any finance charges or fees that may have arisen from the disputed amount.
Long Island Creditor Obligations Under The FCBA
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.
Remedies For New York Fair Credit Billing Act Violations
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 and statutory damages (two times the amount of any finance charges, with a minimum of $500 and a 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.
Long Island Fair Credit Billing Act Resources
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 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.
The Law Office of Andrew M. Doktofsky, P.C. | Long Island Fair Credit Billing Act Attorney
Contact The Law Office of Andrew M. Doktofsky, P.C., at 631-812-7712 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.
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