Rebuilding Your Credit: Billing Disputes

After your bankruptcy is behind you, you may be financially free, but you’ll also need to focus on strategically rebuilding your credit. It’s important to first check your credit report to ensure that everything is accurate and anything that was discharged through your bankruptcy is listed as such. If you see any errors, you’ll need to contact the credit reporting agencies to get them corrected. It’s also wise to pay attention to your monthly bills and credit card statements to make sure there are no errors. You may discover that one of your payments was never processed or you were charged twice for a purchase. You may have even been a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft. Mistakes happen, so the federal government passed the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) to protect consumers and make these challenges easier to deal with.

Legal Protection

Accounts such as credit cards and revolving charge accounts are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Since mortgages and loans typically do not have variable charges and payments, they are unlikely to be disputed; therefore, they do not fall under the FCBA. If you see something amiss on your bill or statement, contact your creditor right away. You’ll need to provide a written notice, and then your creditor must respond within 30 days. To comply with federal requirements, they must let you know they received your dispute, in writing. They then have two billing cycles (not to exceed 90 days) to either correct the issue or give you an explanation as to what happened. Your account is protected during this process. Your creditor cannot close or block your account, and they also cannot report that your account is delinquent if you haven’t paid the disputed amount. Additionally, they cannot contact you to collect this amount, either.


Writing Your Dispute

In order for your creditor to correctly resolve your dispute, your written notice must give them the details they’ll need to launch an investigation. Address the letter to your creditor, and be sure to include your full name and account number. Tell them everything you can about the disputed transaction, including the date and amount, as well as the vendor involved, if applicable. State that you are disputing this bill and why. Be sure to send your written notice within 60 days of the bill date. If you’re uncertain how to write your letter, you can find lots of templates and examples online.


Moving On

Our time is precious, and no one wants the headache of making calls and sending letters unless they absolutely have to. Dealing with a mistake on your bill or bank statement can be frustrating, but there are processes in place that can get the problem resolved quickly. Then you can focus on more important things like working, saving, and planning for the future.