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Using Plastic: A Young Adult's Guide to Credit Cards

... Continued From Previous Page

There's a mistake on my credit card bill.
What do I do to correct it?

Always read your monthly credit card statement promptly and carefully. Check whether there are errors on your bill (such as wrong amounts or no credits given for a returned item), or whether someone has made illegal charges on your credit card. If you find an error:

  • Send the credit card issuer a letter right away— within 60 days after the first bill containing the error was mailed to you. Use the special "billing error address" given on your monthly statement or credit card contract. Remember that only a letter to the special address protects your rights under the law. Phone calls do not protect you.

  • Include in your letter: your name and account number; the date, type, and dollar amount of the charge you question; and why you think there was a mistake. You may be asked later to sign a statement under oath that you did not make the purchase in question.

  • Know that the credit card company must tell you that it has received your letter and corrected the mistake, or explain why the bill is believed to be correct.

  • Make sure to pay the charges on your credit card bill that are not in dispute.

Help! My wallet was stolen—with my credit card in it.
What should I do?

  • Call the credit card issuer immediately about the situation. Use the telephone number established by the card issuer for this purpose. Follow up the call with a letter giving your card number, when the card was missing, and the date you called in the loss.

  • Understand that if a thief uses your card before you notify the credit card issuer, you may be held responsible for up to $50 for unauthorized charges for each card.

  • Know that you cannot be held responsible for more than $50 in unauthorized charges for each card

I don't want anyone else using my credit card.
How can I protect my credit card account?

To safeguard your credit card—and your credit record—make sure you:

  • Never lend your card to anyone.

  • Never leave your card or receipts lying around.

  • Destroy all carbons and incorrect receipts.

  • Never put your card number on a postcard
    or on the outside of an envelope.

  • Never give your card number over the phone, unless you
    are certain the company or organization is highly reputable.

  • Sign your credit card in ink as soon as it arrives.

  • Keep a record of your card number, expiration date,
    and the phone number and address of the card company
    in a safe place, separate from your wallet.

  • Do not sign a blank receipt, whenever possible.

  • Draw a line through blank spaces on charge slips
    above the total so the amount cannot be changed.

  • Open billing statements promptly and compare
    them with receipts you have saved.

  • Write promptly to the credit card issuer if any
    questionable charges appear on your statement.

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