Like most consumers, you probably use credit cards as a convenient way to make everyday purchases. However, what if you find unauthorized charges on your billing statement? Do you know how to dispute those charges? What if you can’t resolve the problem on your own? Keep reading to learn when to contact a lawyer for credit card dispute situations.
Whether your card is lost or stolen, the credit card issuer makes a billing mistake, or you are a victim of identity theft, there’s a good chance you will discover unfamiliar charges on your statement at some point. Almost half of American adults have discovered fraudulent credit card charges. And more than 30% of cardholders have dealt with fraud more than once.
Here’s One Consumer’s Frustrating Story
Frances B. was excited to buy a new home in New York. She moved into her new residence in December 2020 after selling her previous house. Almost a year later, in October 2021, Frances reviewed her Bank of America credit card statement and noticed a charge that she didn’t recognize. A New Jersey company named Full Kitchen charged her credit card more than $4,400. Frances had never heard of Full Kitchen and never ordered any products or services from that company.
Immediately upon discovering this unauthorized charge, Frances contacted Bank of America to dispute it. She received a temporary credit while the Bank investigated the dispute and within a few days, Bank of America resolved the dispute and removed the charge along with related fees. Frances thought the matter was closed.
Until she received the next billing statement.
The Credit Card Charge That Keeps Coming Back
The Full Kitchen charge reappeared in her next monthly statement, so Frances disputed the charge again. In response she received two letters from Bank of America, both rejecting her dispute. One letter stated the rejection was based on a receipt or contract made by an authorized card user. When Frances requested a copy of the receipt or contract, Bank of America refused to provide it.
The second denial letter claimed that the charges were incurred by an authorized card user or someone with permission to incur the debt and that products or services were provided to one of Frances’ former residences. Bank of America said the charges were originally made in October 2020, but the work was not completed until October 2021.
Frances re-disputed the debt twice more, in December 2021 and February 2022. She provided several reasons why she is not responsible for the unauthorized charge including:
- She did not own the residence in question in October 2020,
- She did not hire any New Jersey companies for kitchen remodeling services and never signed a contract or receipt authorizing a credit card charge,
- Although she did some remodeling in her current home, she did not hire Full Kitchen and did not use a credit card to pay for the work,
- She never contracted with Full Kitchen and never authorized anyone to enter into a contract on her behalf, and
- She is a victim of credit card fraud and/or identity theft.
Bank of America refused to remove the charge and continued to demand payment. It was time to take her case to a lawyer for credit card dispute resolution.
A Lawyer for Credit Card Dispute Challenges Will Understand that Several Laws May Apply to These Situations
After her disputes were denied, Frances realized she needed to find a lawyer for credit card dispute denials. When Frances came to Schlanger Law Group, we listened to her story, analyzed the situation, and developed a legal strategy to help her resolve this problem. Based on our extensive experience litigating credit card billing disputes, the team at SLG determined that Frances was potentially covered by two federal laws, as well as New York’s general business law and common law principles.
The Truth in Lending Act
Under the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA), credit cardholders can only be held liable for unauthorized charges up to $50. Because Frances is facing a charge of more than $4,000, Bank of America cannot demand payment of this unauthorized charge or any related fees. In her lawsuit, we are seeking actual damages, statutory damages, a declaration of Bank of America’s violation, and Frances’ attorney’s fees and costs.
The Fair Credit Billing Act
Frances did exactly what she was supposed to do under these circumstances. When she received her credit card statement, she reviewed it immediately. Then, she quickly disputed the unauthorized charge multiple times. As soon as Bank of America was notified about the disputed charge, it was obligated to perform an investigation under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). At first, it appeared that the charge was handled correctly because the charge was reversed and removed from her account.
But when the charge reappeared and Frances re-disputed, the credit card company violated the FCBA by:
- Failing to perform a proper investigation,
- Failing to consider the evidence Frances provided,
- Failing to provide proof of the contract or receipt that Frances allegedly signed in support of the charge,
- Permanently reinstating the charge that was previously removed,
- Refusing to provide an adequate written explanation of its decision and supporting documents to justify the reinstated charge, and
- Continuing to demand payment of the charge and associated interest and fees.
Under the FCBA we are seeking actual damages, statutory damages, a declaratory judgment, attorney’s fees, and legal costs on behalf of Frances.
New York Deceptive Acts and Practices and Common Law
The lawsuit also alleges that Bank of America violated state and common law by:
- Unlawfully charging Frances for a transaction she did not authorize,
- Failing to investigate and correct the charge,
- Falsely claiming it did investigate,
- Billing her for amounts she doesn’t owe, and
- Trying to collect the unauthorized charge while adding interest and other fees.
We have also alleged that Bank of America’s actions are part of a recurring policy and pattern of practice suffered by numerous cardholders. As a result of this willful behavior, we are requesting punitive damages (a form of punishment), an injunction prohibiting future similar actions, a declaratory judgment that Bank of America has violated these laws, and payment of Frances’ fees and costs.
Why You Should Dispute Unauthorized Charges Before Contacting a Lawyer for Credit Card Dispute Litigation
You may be able to successfully resolve an unauthorized credit card charge on your own by disputing the charge directly with the credit card issuer as soon as possible. In general, you must notify the company within 60 days of the date on your billing statement. If you call or email first, always follow up in writing and include any information and documents that support your dispute. Always keep a copy of everything you send in case you need proof in the future.
If your dispute is rejected or simply ignored, it’s time to discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer who is familiar with the laws that apply to credit card dispute resolutions.
Credit card fraud, identity theft, and billing mistakes happen every day. If you can’t resolve a credit card dispute, call (212) 500-6114 or complete this short form to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation conference today.