Errors in your billing statement from incorrectly assessed late fees and finance changes are frustrating and sometimes a challenge to resolve. You scan your statement and notice the errors, wondering if you’ve missed others. You don’t recall making any late payments and you haven’t been notified of changes to your finance rates. Resolution requires timely reporting of the errors to the appropriate regulatory agency. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, different federal agencies enforce the laws that regulate credit-billing errors and banking fee mistakes.
Late Fees and Math Errors
You bank might assess late fees against your account if it fails to post your own-time payment correctly. A simple math error can result in incorrect fees. The Fair Credit Billing Act, or FCBA, includes provisions for resolving issues with late fees and math errors on your bank credit or account statements. The FCBA – – which applies mostly to open-end credit accounts, revolving accounts and credit cards – – requires your bank to post your payment on the date it was received unless there are no fees involved for posting it on a later date. The Federal Trade Commission, in its online Facts for Consumers – Fair Credit Billing, states that the FCBA allows your bank to require receipt of payments by a certain time for posting on a given date.
Some creditors increase finance charges if a consumer submits late payments. Your bank might have failed to properly notify you of an impending finance charge change or the error could result from human error. Federal legislation regulates finance charges and provides methods to resolve disputes. The Consumer Credit Protection Act requires that creditors base finance changes on the sum of all credit transactions, excluding fees unless special provisions are included, according to the FDIC. The Fair Credit Billing Act requires your bank to send your bill to you at least 14 days before the payment due date. This allows you to pay part or all of your account balance without incurring finance charges on the paid amount.
Triggering FCBA Legal Safeguards
A written notice to the bank officially triggers the legal safeguards of the Fair Credit Billing Act. You must send the written notice about the billing error to the bank within 60 days after the first incorrect bill is mailed to you. The act requires you to send the notice to the address provided by the bank for disputed statements and not to the billing address. Include your name, account number and a statement that you believe your bill contains a billing error. The FDIC recommends adding the reason you think the bank made the error and the total dollar amount of the error. Include copies of supporting documents and add a list of enclosures to the letter. Send your letter by certified mail and request a return receipt.
The bank must acknowledge in writing receipt of your complaint within 30 days after receipt of your complaint. The FCBA requires creditors to resolve the complaint without two billing cycles, but no more than 90 days after receipt of your letter. If the bank finds that it made an error, it must send you a written statement explaining the error and the corrections it will make. The FCBA requires the bank to remove late fees, finance charges and other charges that resulted from the error. The bank also must send you a written explanation if it determines that you owe only a part of the disputed amount.
You may withhold the contested part of the payment while you contest the billing statement, according to the FTC. However, you must pay the uncontested part of the bill. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits creditors from denying you credit or discriminating against you in other ways because you disputed your bill. You may contact the bank in writing within 10 days of receiving the decision if you disagree. However, if you refuse to pay the disputed amount the creditor may begin collections against you. If the creditor reports the matter to a credit bureau, it must also report that you believe you do not owe the money. Remember to check with your state Attorney General or consumer protection office to learn about other legal protections.