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FDIC Consumer News
Special 10th Anniversary Edition - Fall 2003
Problems With Plastic: Tips for Tackling Your Top Concerns
Here are common problems that consumers report with credit cards or debit cards (which deduct payments automatically from your deposit account) along with guidance on how to prevent and resolve those problems.
Billing errors, defective purchases and other disputed transactions:
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) protects you from paying for a purchase that wasn't yours or that you didn't agree to. But you must write the creditor using the address given for billing inquiries (not the payment address) and your letter must reach the creditor within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you. The FCBA allows you to withhold payment for defective goods or services purchased with a credit card until the problem has been corrected. In general, the purchase must be for more than $50 from a merchant in your home state or within 100 miles of your home. Your card issuer may offer additional protections.
Application denied or loan terms less favorable than expected:
Credit report errors can prevent you from getting the best possible loan terms, so periodically review your credit report to make sure everything is correct. If you find an error, write to the credit bureau that prepared the report. For more information, including details about a new law making it easier to obtain and correct your credit reports, see "Your Credit Record".
Late payment fees:
Allow enough time for your payment to reach your card issuer. Remember that financial institutions mark credit card payments as "paid" on the day they are received, not the day you mailed it. Find out your bank's cutoff time for card payments. And if you know your "late" payment arrived on time, contact your card issuer.
Confusion over promotional offers:
You're probably familiar with deals like "zero percent interest" on a credit card or "no payment on merchandise until next year" if you put your purchase on your charge card. These offers usually are for limited purposes and time periods, something many consumers don't focus on until they run up unexpected charges, so be sure to read the fine print.
Excerpted from "Problems With Plastic: Our Tips for Tackling Your Top Five Concerns," Fall 2002.
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