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How to Correct a Mistake on Bank and Credit Statements

Legal safeguards are triggered with a written error notice

It is important to check your credit account and bank account statements regularly.

The Fair Credit Billing Act and Electronic Fund Transfers Act establish procedures for resolving mistakes on credit account and bank account statements.

When many customers find a mistake on their bill, they pick up the telephone and call the company to correct the problem. You may do this if you wish, but telephoning does not trigger the legal safeguards under the Fair Credit Billing Act.

To be protected under the law, you must send a separate written billing error notice, to the creditor. Your notice must reach the creditor within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you. The written notice must be sent to the address provided on the bill for billing error notices (and not, for example, directly to the store, unless the bill says that is where it should be sent).

In your letter, you must include the following information:

  • Your name and account number.
  • A statement that you believe the bill contains a billing error and the dollar amount involved.
  • The reason you believe there is a mistake.

The Fair Credit Billing Act generally applies to "open end" credit accounts, like credit cards or revolving charge accounts (such as department store accounts).

The Electronic Fund Transfers Act applies to electronic fund transfers transactions involving automated teller machines, debit cards, other point-of-sale debit transactions and other electronic banking transactions that can result in the withdrawal of cash from your bank account.

Under the Electronic Fund Transfers Act, if there is a mistake or unauthorized withdrawal from your bank account through the use of a debit card, you must notify your financial institution of the problem or error within 60 days after the statement containing the problem or error was sent. For retail purchases, your financial institution has up to 20 business days to investigate after receiving notice of the error.

You must notify your institution immediately upon learning that your debit card or credit card has been misplaced or lost. If you do not report the loss within two business days after you realize the card is missing, and if someone uses the card without your permission, you may lose from $50 to $500. If you do not report an unauthorized transfer or withdrawal within 60 days after your statement is sent to you, you risk unlimited loss.

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