Lost and Stolen Debit/Check Cards and Stored-Value Cards
Report a lost or stolen ATM
or debit/check card to the issuer immediately.
• If you report an ATM
card missing before it’s used without your permission, you are not
responsible for any unauthorized withdrawals.
• Federal regulations
limit your liability to $50 if you report the loss within two business
days after you realize your card is missing, and to $500 if you report
the loss between 2 and 60 days.
• Self-imposed industry
rules limit your liability to zero if you report the loss within two business
days, and to $50 if you report it more than two business days after realizing
your card is missing.
Stored-value cards contain
cash value stored electronically on the card itself. Stored-value cards
and the transactions you make using them may not be covered by the Electronic
Funds Transfer Act. This means you may not be covered for loss or misuse
of the card.
Credit Billing Disputes
The Fair Credit Billing Act
applies to problems with credit card and charge accounts and overdraft
checking such as:
• billing errors;
• unauthorized use of
• goods or services
charged to your account but not received or not provided as promised;
• charges for which
you request an explanation or written proof of purchase.
To dispute an amount, request
proof of purchase, or complain regarding goods or services received:
• Write to the creditor
or card issuer within 60 days after the first bill containing the disputed
charge is mailed to you. (Even if more than 60 days have passed since
you were billed for the item, you still may be able to dispute the charge
if you only recently found out about the problem.)
• Send your letter to
the address provided on the bill. Do not send the letter with your payment.
• Be specific. In your
letter, give your name and account number, the date and amount of the
charge disputed, and a complete explanation of why you are disputing the
Send your letter by certified
mail, with a return receipt requested, if you want to be sure it’s
If you follow these requirements,
the creditor or card issuer must acknowledge your letter in writing within
30 days after it is received and conduct an investigation within 90 days.
While the bill is being investigated,
you need not pay the amount in dispute. The creditor or card issuer may
not take action to collect the disputed amount, including reporting the
amount as delinquent, and may not close or restrict your account.
If there was an error, the
creditor or card issuer must credit your account and remove any finance
charges or late fees relating to the amount not owed. For any amount still
owed, you have the right to an explanation and copies of documents proving
you owe the money.
If the bill is correct, you must be told in writing what you owe and why.
You will owe the amount disputed plus any finance charges.
Out of Control Debt
Counseling services provide
assistance to persons having difficulty budgeting money and paying bills.
Credit unions, cooperative extension offices, military family service
centers and religious organizations are among those that may offer free
or low-cost credit counseling.
Members of the National Foundation for Consumer Credit (NFCC) provide
educational programs on money management and help in developing debt payment
plans. These locally managed, nonprofit agencies operate under the name
Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS). To locate the nearest NFCC
member, call toll-free, 24 hours a day, 1-800-388-2227 or visit www.nfcc.org.
Myvesta.org is a nonprofit, Internet-based debt counseling service. It
assists families and individuals with debt, credit, money and financial
problems through its website at www.myvesta.org,
as well as through one-on-one counseling at 1-800-680-DEBT.
Negative Credit Information
in Your Credit Report
If there is inaccurate or
incomplete information in your credit report:
• Contact both the credit
reporting agency (CRA) and the company that provided the information to
• Tell the CRA in writing
what information you believe is inaccurate.
Under The Fair Credit Reporting
Act, the information provider is required to investigate and report the
results to the CRA. If the information is found to be incorrect, it must
notify all nationwide CRAs to also correct your file. If the investigation
does not solve your dispute, ask that your statement of the dispute be
included in your file. A notice of your dispute must be included anytime
the CRA reports the item. See Your Rights: Credit Reports.
If the information is accurate,
only time, hard work, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve
your credit report. Credit repair companies advertise that they can erase
bad credit for a hefty fee. Don’t believe it.
Under the Credit Repair Organizations
Act, credit repair companies can’t require you to pay until they
have completed promised services. They must also give you:
• a copy of the “Consumer
Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law” before you sign
• a written contract
that spells out your rights and obligations; and
• three days to cancel
without paying any fees.
Some credit repair companies
promise to help you establish a whole new credit identity. You can be
prosecuted for fraud if you use the mail or telephone to apply for credit
with false information. It is a federal crime to make false statements
on a loan or credit application, to misrepresent your social security
number, or to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal
Revenue Service under false pretences.
Your state may also regulate
credit repair companies. If you have lost money to credit repair scams,
contact your state or local consumer affairs office or the National Fraud