What Is the Meaning of "Credit Card Dispute"?

by Barb Nefer ; Updated July 27, 2017

Credit cards are a handy way to pay for purchases, but sometimes you may find a mistake on your billing statement. The County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs website explains that you have a write to complain about such errors by making a credit card dispute. The law spells out how to do this, including the time frame and the process by which your card issuer must handle the complaint.

Definition

Credit card disputes come in several different types. The Fair Credit Billing Act lets you challenge charges for an item that you did not order or for delivered goods or services that are damaged or of poor quality, the Bankrate website explains. You can also dispute mathematical mistakes on your statements, incorrectly applied money or payments that do not show up at all.

Process

Put your credit card dispute in writing and mail it with a receipt requested, the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs advises. Your billing statement has a postal address for disputes. Explain in your letter what you think is wrong and why. Include proof of your own attempts to resolve the issue if you are challenging a bill for goods or services. For example, give the date of phone calls or send copies of letters that show you tried to negotiate with the merchant or service provider in question. Merchandise and service disputes are limited to purchases over $50. The purchase must take place in your home state or within 100 miles of your residence, although the Bankrate site explains that many credit card companies waive the distance requirement. The waiver protects you when you make Internet or mail order purchases from distant retailers.

Time Frame

You have 60 days from the credit card statement date to dispute an erroneous item. Your credit card issuer gets 30 days in which to acknowledge receipt of your dispute letter, according to the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs, and two billing cycles or 90 days to either fix the error or tell you why it believes there is no mistake.

Considerations

You may refuse to pay the disputed portion of your bill, and any interest on that amount, while the matter is under investigation. Your credit card issuer cannot charge a late fee or turn the matter over to a collection agency. You are still liable for undisputed portions of your bill, the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs. The card issuer will expect payment if it rules against you in the dispute.

Fraud

Contact your credit card issuer immediately rather than writing a dispute letter if you notice potentially fraudulent charges. The issuer can close the account and give you a new card and number. The Indiana Department of Financial Institutions explains that your liability is limited to $50 if your card is stolen or your account is compromised, although many banks waive this amount.

About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."