What happens when you have fraudulent credit card charges and your credit card issuer does not believe you? The short answer is this: you pursue your rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
At Sherman & Ticchio, we are frequently contacted by consumers who have unauthorized/fraudulent charges on their credit reports and credit card issuers who do not believe that those consumers did not make or authorize the fraudulent charges. Often, consumers we speak to about credit card disputes are both frustrated and highly stressed. And that is understandable. These types of credit card issues are unquestionably anxiety-producing. Fortunately, you are not out of options if a credit card issuer denies your claims of unauthorized/fraudulent charges. In fact, the best way to address unresolved credit card charge disputes is to avoid dealing directly with the credit card issuers themselves. Rather, your best option to ‘convince’ a credit card issuer that disputed charges were in fact fraudulent is to dispute responsibility for the charges to one or more credit bureaus pursuant to procedures set forth in the FCRA.The FCRA specifically permits consumers to dispute responsibility for fraudulent credit card charges directly to the credit bureaus that are reporting those charges (generally Equifax, Experian, and/or Trans Union). Ironically, the FCRA refers to such credit bureau disputes as “indirect disputes.”
Once a credit bureau (or, in FCRA terminology, a “Consumer Reporting Agency” or CRA) receives your dispute, that CRA then has to do two things –
- Inform the credit card issuer (in FCRA terms, the “furnisher”) about your dispute, which triggers an obligation by the creditor to conduct a “reasonable investigation” of your dispute and modify or update disputed items that it cannot affirmatively verify as correct; and
- conduct the CRA’s own, parallel investigation. Like the furnisher, the credit bureau is required by the FCRA to modify or delete disputed information — such as credit card charges — that it cannot verify as accurate.
If a consumer’s dispute of fraudulent credit card charges is “verified” (meaning that the furnisher and/or CRA has, after investigating a dispute, somehow ‘found’ that the reporting of fraudulent charges is appropriate), the consumer then has a case that is ripe for filing in federal court pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.A qualified consumer attorney — whether Sherman & Ticchio or another firm with attorneys who are, like us, members of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, can easily guide you through the dispute process and, if necessary, file claims under the FCRA on your behalf.Sherman & Ticchio will never charge you a penny to help with your disputes, and — because the FCRA is a fee-shifting statute (meaning that the defendants must pay your attorney’s fees) — our firm will never charge you a penny out of pocket. Our fees come entirely from case proceeds (settlements or verdicts).