Rebuilding Your Credit: Billing Disputes

Once your bankruptcy is resolved, the work of rebuilding your credit begins.  You’ll want to ensure your credit report is accurate, and if not, contact the credit reporting agencies to make corrections. It’s also important to keep an eye on your bills and credit card statements to ensure accuracy. Sometimes a company may bill you twice for a purchase, your credit card company may not process a payment you’ve made, or you may discover that you’re a victim of credit card fraud. If you do notice errors, thankfully the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) may make it easier to get things resolved.

You’re Protected

The Fair Credit Billing Act applies to accounts such as credit cards and revolving charge accounts. This does not cover loans, mortgages, etc., but it’s also very unlikely that you’d ever need to dispute these kinds of bills, since they are the same every month. If you do discover a discrepancy, your first step is to contact your creditor and to give them a written notice of your dispute. Once you give your creditor written notice of your dispute, they must meet requirements set by the federal government of addressing the issue. Within 30 days of your complaint, they must give you a written acknowledgement that they received your dispute. Your account must be corrected or an explanation must be issued within two billing cycles (this cannot be longer than 90 days.) During this process, your creditor may not close your account or tell you that they are going to report that you have skipped a payment. They also may not attempt to collect the disputed amount.

Planning Your Written Notice

As you prepare to contact your creditor with a written notice, it’s important to ensure that certain elements are included. You’ll need to address the notice to your creditor and include all of the pertinent information about your account, such as the account number and your full name. Give them all the details about the bill you’re disputing, including dates, vendor, and amounts. Include a statement that you believe this item or bill is incorrect and why you’re disputing the bill (you didn’t make the charge, company charged you twice, identity theft, etc.) Timing is important; you’ll need to send this notice within 60 days of receiving the bill with the mistake on it. You can find examples and templates of dispute letters online that may be helpful.

Back on Track

It can be frustrating to see an error on a bill, especially if you’ve worked hard to get back on your feet and clean up your credit after bankruptcy. Everything can be fixed, though. It does take some time and effort, but you can get back on track and continue to build your financial future. If you’ve been having financial difficulties and aren’t sure if you’ll be able to keep up with your bills, bankruptcy might be an option for you. I can help you make a solid plan to put your debt behind you.