DON’T PANIC. YOU HAVE RIGHTS.
Credit cards and debit cards are frequent targets of identity thieves. Why? Because they’re easy to fake, give access to instant cash, and there are literally thousands of them available for sale on the Dark Web. Plenty of financial advisors and TV personalities offer advice on how to prevent identity theft. Companies like LifeLock make millions selling a sense of security to their customers. But the unfortunate truth is that it is simply impossible for you to be completely safe from identity theft. Company databases are hacked all the time, and unless you’re willing to live in the stone age and not use credit cards or debit cards, you’re going to have to accept the risk. Thankfully, there are laws that can protect your credit and your assets – even if you’ve been the victim of identity theft.
So for those of you who have already been the victim of identity theft, or have seen unauthorized charges on your credit or debit card, what can you do about it?
It’s surprisingly easy: send the bank a letter. In the letter, you should identify yourself, the account, and the transactions that were fraudulent. Include the dates and the amounts of any unauthorized charges. Then, request that they correct the error immediately. Send the letter by certified mail (not required by law, but definitely a wise choice) to the address for disputes on the back of your most recent statement. It would also be a good idea to include a copy of the statement showing the fraudulent charges, which should be underlined or highlighted. Do not call them on the phone – that’s a waste of time and oral disputes are harder to prove in court.
Credit card errors are governed by the Fair Credit Billing Act, and debit card errors are governed by the Electronic Fund Transfers Act.
If they don’t fix it in a timely manner (14 days for debit cards, 60 days for credit cards), then you can take them to court for a full refund, plus lawyer’s fees. We handle EFTA and FCBA cases all over Alabama.
Here are two examples of what these dispute letters look like:
If you have been unlawfully charged for fraudulent credit or debit card transactions in Alabama, we would be happy to help. The consultation is free, so call our office any time. 251.272.9148. Or, you can just fill out the questionnaire below, and we’ll set up an appointment with you to discuss your case: