I received a bill from a credit card company which I believe has a mistake in it. How do I get it straightened out?

Federal law allows you to dispute charges that appear on your credit card bills. The law is titled the Fair Credit Billing Act, or the billing error provisions of the Truth in Lending Act. 

You must notify the credit card company of the error within 60 days of receiving the bill, in writing and via the provided address for billing inquiries. The notice must be on a separate sheet of paper from your bill and contain all of the following information: 

•your name, 
•your account number, 
•the nature and amount of the error, 
•the date of the error, and 
•the reasons why you believe it is wrong. 

After the credit card company receives the notice, the company has 30 days to either acknowledge the notice you sent, or resolve the dispute. If the company simply acknowledges the notice, it has 90 days to resolve the dispute. 

The phrase “resolve the dispute” does not necessarily mean that the credit card company is going to agree with you. The company might agree with you, reject your claim, or agree in part and reject the claim in part. If the credit card company agrees, then it must make the corrections to your bill. If it rejects your claim, then it must send you a written explanation or clarification. During the time that the transaction is in dispute, the credit card company cannot charge you interest on the disputed amount, report you to a credit agency, file an adverse credit report, or charge you late fees. When the dispute is resolved, the credit card company must tell you how much you owe and when it is due. 

Good record keeping is critical to being able to use the law to exercise your rights. Keep all documents that support your position, as well as all correspondence with the company. These documents will be useful if the company is in violation of the Truth in Lending Act or the Fair Credit Billing Act. 

It is important to note that this section refers to disputes between you and the credit card company. It does not cover situations where there is a dispute between you and a merchant when you paid by credit card.  

For more information, see: Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601-1616 (2015); Fair Credit Billing Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1666 (2015).