Chase, American Express, Citibank, and others don’t believe that you didn’t charge a vacation to Las Vegas? Your bank doesn’t believe that you did not buy a thousand-dollar television at BestBuy or on Amazon?What should you do when your credit card does issuer does not agree that you are a victim of fraud?

The answer is probably not what you think!

Your natural instinct is probably to dispute the charges with the credit card issuer again and again. That is an option. But once Chase or Amex tells you that it refuses to reverse fraudulent credit card charges, your real rights come from Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA is a great law, passed by Congress, that provides specific guidance about how to deal with this very situation. Rather than beating your head against the wall attempting to convince a bank to reverse fraudulent charges, your best option is to dispute the reporting of those charges by credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and/or Trans Union (among other credit bureaus) — on consumer reports about you that the credit bureaus sell and from which the credit bureaus profit. 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act explicitly instructs consumers to dispute responsibility for fraudulent credit card transactions (any other inaccurate information) directly to the credit bureaus. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, those types of disputes are called “indirect disputes” because, instead of disputing the inaccurate information directly to the actual creditor, you are disputing that information to the creditor indirectly by using one or more consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) as an intermediary for your dispute. 

Once Equifax, or Experian, or TransUnion receive a dispute from you (which can be written with the guidance of Sherman & Ticchio or another qualified attorney), the credit bureau is required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to do two things. First, the credit bureau must Inform the credit card issuer (the “furnisher” in FCRA terms) about your dispute. That notification triggers a duty for the creditor to perform a “reasonable investigation” of the dispute, and to modify, update, or delete items you disputed that the creditor/furnisher that be cannot affirmatively verified as correct. At the same time, the CRA must do its own, “reasonable investigation” of your dispute. Like a furnisher, a 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, after investigating your dispute, the credit bureau continues to report the inaccurate information, that usually means that the creditor told the credit bureau to keep reporting it and the credit bureau is merely parroting the instructions of the creditor. If, after the investigation of your dispute (which must be completed within 30 days) one or more credit bureaus continues to report the disputed information, you — as a consumer — now have a right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to sue in federal court (a) the creditor/furnisher that reported the fraudulent charges, and (b) each credit bureau that continues post-investigation reporting.

Sherman & Ticchio can easily guide you through the dispute process and, if necessary, litigate your FCRA claims in federal court. Also, because the FCRA is a fee-shifting statute (meaning that the defendants must pay your attorney’s fees), Sherman & Ticchio will never charge you a penny out of pocket.