What to Do If There's an Error on Your Debit or Credit Card Statement

Here's what to do if you find an error on your ATM, debit, or credit card statement.

Once in a while, you may find an error on your ATM, debit, credit, or charge card statement. Because you may lose the right to challenge the error if you don't act quickly, it pays to learn about your rights and obligations if you do discover an error.

ATM Statements and Debit Card Receipts

If you find an error on an ATM statement or debit receipt, you have 60 days from the date of the statement or receipt to notify the bank. Always call first and follow up with a letter. If you don't notify the bank within 60 days (sometimes longer in extenuating circumstances), the bank has no obligation to respond -- which means you're probably out of luck.

If you notify the bank within 60 days, the bank has ten business days to investigate the problem and inform you of the result. If the bank needs more time, it can take up to 45 days, but only if it deposits the amount of money in dispute into your account. If the bank later determines that there was no error, it can take the money back, but it first must send you a written explanation.

Credit or Charge Card Statements

The law regarding errors on credit and charge card statements is similar to that for ATM or debit cards. You must notify the credit or charge card company of any errors within 60 days from the date of the first statement where the error appeared. Otherwise, the credit or charge card company has no obligation to investigate or respond. Notify the company in writing and enclose copies of supporting documents, such as receipts showing the correct amount of the charge.

The credit or charge card company must acknowledge receipt of your letter within 30 days, unless it corrects the bill within that time. Then, within two billing cycles (but not more than 90 days), the company must either correct the error or explain why it believes the amount on the statement is correct. If the company does not comply with these time limits, it forfeits up to $50 of any amount you might owe. In California, if the company doesn't comply with the 90-day limit, you don't have to pay any portion of the disputed balance.

During the two-billing-cycle/90-day period, the credit or charge card company cannot report the amount as delinquent to a credit bureau or other creditors. But it can apply the disputed amount to your credit limit and charge interest on the amount. Of course, if the company later agrees that you were correct, it must drop these interest charges.

If the company sends you an explanation but doesn't correct the error, and you are not satisfied, you have ten days to send another letter explaining why you still refuse to pay. If the company then reports your account as delinquent, it must also report that you believe you don't owe the money.

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