Knowing how to quickly repair a credit card error will protect you from credit fraud or even identity theft. These tips for fixing Visa or MasterCard mistakes are from a financial guru who’s “been there, done that.”
I left my Visa at the SPCA three weeks ago, when I used it to buy my dog. They said they’d put it in the mail right away, but it hasn’t hit my mailbox yet. So, I gathered these tips for fixing credit card errors because I’m thinking that I may need to put them into action soon!
And paying interest on credit card debt that’s not yours is even worse.
How to Fix a Credit Card Error – Visa or MasterCard Mistakes
“Always review credit card statements carefully,” says Ethan Ewing, past president of Bills.com. “Be sure you recognize every charge on a statement. Fraudulent activity on a credit card can begin with a few small charges as criminals test. That is, a thief can test whether Visa or MasterCard cardholders pay attention to their bills. If you suspect someone is making fraudulent charges to your account, contact your credit card provider immediately.”
My husband reviews our Visa credit card bill online every few days; if there are wrong charges, he catches them fairly quickly (though we haven’t had a wrong charge on our credit card for years!). The best tip for fixing a credit card error is catching it early, and taking these steps right away…
Gather information about the credit card error
Collect data to explain specifically why you are disputing the wrong charge on your credit card bill. Is the amount incorrect? Is the charge for a purchase you did not receive? Is the merchant unknown to you? Collect receipts, warranties or any other paperwork that supports the case. To fix a Visa or MasterCard mistake, you need to have as much info as you can.
Contact the merchant who made the credit card error – he may fix it immediately
If a server misreads a tip amount or a store charged another customer’s purchase to your card, many businesses are willing to correct the erroneous credit card charge themselves. Settling with the merchant is the fastest and easiest way way to fix a credit card error.
Contact the credit card issuer (eg, Visa or MasterCard themselves)
When a merchant cannot or will not correct a transaction, the credit card issuer can help. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), customers must notify the credit card issuer that they are disputing a transaction within 60 days of the error. Notify the card issuer in writing to protect your legal rights, with a letter such as this sample dispute letter from the Federal Trade Commission.
To report unauthorized credit card use, calling is acceptable and prudent way to stop potential fraud quickly. Send correspondence via certified mail to obtain proof of delivery. The credit card company is legally required to correct the billing error within 90 days of receiving the written notice. This tip on how to fix a credit card error is really important!
Know what to do when the credit card dispute is still open
While a credit card error is being fixed (or the charge is disputed), you don’t need to pay the contested amount or interest that accrues on the credit card bill. But you have to pay for other Visa or MasterCard charges, of course, plus interest on your credit card debt. If the dispute is denied, the credit card company can charge interest back to the dispute date, in addition to the charge itself.
Take swift, serious action to fix credit card errors
If the dispute is denied and you believe the decision is unfair, you have the option of filing a complaint with your state attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission. You also could file a lawsuit, but legal cases can be long and expensive. If you choose this route, consider seeking an attorney who will accept awarded damages as payment, in case the case is longer and costs more money than you anticipate.