PIRATES OF THE CREDIT SEA – Part 2: What are my rights?
What are my rights in the situation that I summarized in my previous article: “PIRATES OF THE CREDIT SEA: My Treasure Is Taken!”? Well, the answer is very simple. I have a contractual right to get my treasure back. I also have a right to fair, honest, and ethical treatment under my credit card contract with Citibank. I have fulfilled the obligations of my agreement with Citibank to the best of my knowledge and ability. They should fulfill theirs. Already, however, it does not look like it is going to be a walk in the part to get my treasure back.
< — Go to Part #1: My Treasure Is Taken!
Go to Part #3: I want my treasure back!! (Please) –>
Why do I believe I have a right to get my treasure back? This is not a difficult intellectual or legal exercise. If you enter into a contract, and your fulfill your side of the agreement while the other party does not, then you should always have a right to restitution until the statue of limitations expires. My rights to my treasure have not expired, just because I missed a 60-day window. The statute of limitations related to meeting contractual commitments is never just 60 days.
When you deal with a credit card company, however, things just seem not to be that easy after 60 days. Unless, you watch every billing statement like a hawk and contest any problems in writing within 60 days, which we did not do, your road to recovery could be more difficult, if the credit card company wants to make it harder.
What is this 60-day window? I have missed the very short window on one of the very few consumer protections with any teeth that are available to credit card customers under law. I have missed the “60-day-complain-about-your-bill-in-writing” window of the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) of 1974 which was enacted as an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.).
It looks like my road ahead will be harder because I missed this 60-day window. What can you do to ensure that you do not get into my situation? How can you get your financial institution to fix things promptly and responsively?
To keep things simple, remember these two things:
1) CHECK EVERY BANK STATEMENT, CREDIT CARD STATEMENT, CREDIT UNION STATEMENT, AND EVERY OTHER FINANCIAL STATEMENT THAT YOU GET IN HARDCOPY OR ELECTRONICALLY FOR ACCURACY IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOU GET IT. LOOK AT EVERYTHING ON THE BILLING STATEMENT — NOT JUST THE FIRST PAGE THAT TELLS YOU WHAT THE FINANCIAL INSTITUTION ALLEGES THAT YOU OWE. IF ANYTHING SEEMS NOT TO BE CORRECT, IT IS RED-ALERT TIME. THE CLOCK IS TICKING.
With my personal situation, I now understand more clearly that any billing statement is only the other party’s perhaps erroneous interpretation of your financial obligations, and this billing statement “interpretation” of your contract is only good for easy correction for sixty days. After 60 days, your billing statement is likely to becomes a fossil in your relationship with your financial institution. If your statement is wrong, you may find, as I have, that your financial institution will erect operational and communications stone walls to make it very difficult to bring any over-60-day fossilized billing statement back to life and to make it subject to revision. I used to have more trust in company-customer goodwill, but that has vanished. Silly me.
2) REPORT ANY PROBLEMS IN WRITING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, BUT DEFINITELY WITHIN 60 DAYS. YOU MUST INCLUDE ALL REQUIRED INFORMATION UNDER THE FAIR CREDIT BILLING ACT, AND YOU MUST MAIL IT TO THE APPROPRIATE COMPANY ADDRESS. YOU MUST WRITE TO PROTECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS UNDER THE FCBA.
You can use the telephone to try to fix things, but you will lose your rights under the FCBA, if your credit card company does not keep its verbal commitments about what they say they will do, and you did not write a letter. See the links below for the requirements for such letters. If the amount at issue is substantial to you, you may wish to mail your letter through the post office with return receipt requested or send it through some other shipper that will provide proof of delivery.
To protect your rights under the FCBA, you should investigate what these rights are and what you must do to preserve your rights. The Skilled Investor will not attempt to summarize the FCBA or interpret it for you. There many useful web resources on the FCBA. Try these links to start and use your favorite search engine if you need more information:
Federal Trade Commission — Facts for Consumers — Fair Credit Billing Act
Federal Reserve Board — Consumer Handbook to Credit Protection Laws
Full text of The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) of 1974, as amended (in .pdf format)
The FCBA was enacted to give consumers limited rights in dealing with banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions that deal with the public. I hate to imagine what things were like prior to the enactment of the FCBA in 1974. The FCBA has some legal teeth, and the credit card companies take it seriously. FCBA violations cost financial companies money, and they have structured their operations to hop to it, when they get an FCBA compliant letter.
However, a 60-day window is pretty darn short to preserve your corrective rights and to compel credit card companies to take action. Furthermore, once you miss the window, it seems that credit card companies feel that they can ignore you. In practice, they can ignore you, because they face no penalties that are easy for a consumer to trigger, when a dispute falls out from under the FCBA. At best, the credit card industry is “lightly” regulated, and many credit card companies have found that they can take advantage of customers without any significant financial consequences that would cause them to change their rapacious behaviors.
That is the situation that I am in now. However, I know that I am not S.O.L. I know that I still have contractual rights. However, it looks like it will be harder, more time consuming, and perhaps more expensive to enforce my rights. Nevertheless, this is still my treasure — not Citibank’s, and I want my treasure back!
In conclusion, you might also find the information at these other websites to be useful to you:
U.S. Department of the Treasury — Comptroller of the Currency — Administrator of National Banks — Consumer Complaints and Assistance
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA)
Consumers Union (CU) — publisher of Consumer Reports magazine
Don’t Get Taken! Protect Yourself Legally From Common Abuses and Rip-Offs
Next: PIRATES OF THE CREDIT SEA: I want my treasure back!! (Please)
Tags: truth in lending act
Personal Financial Planning
- Searching for Superior Investment Fund Managers is a Waste of Your Time (
Searching for superior investment fund managers is a waste of your money and time
A previous article, “The Solution - ONLY follow financial strategies that are scientific, passive, diversified, savings focused, risk controlled, low cost, and tax efficient,” suggested that individuals are much better off with a well-considered financial viewpoint. A stable set of financial beliefs [...])
- Are Your Financial Planning and Investing Strategies Scientific? (
Your financial planning and investing strategies should have a scientific basis
A previous article, "The Solution - ONLY follow financial strategies that are scientific, passive, diversified, savings focused, risk controlled, low cost, and tax efficient," suggested that individuals are much better off with a well-considered financial viewpoint. A stable set of financial beliefs can help you [...])
- State Street Global Advisors S&P 500 Index Fund (SVSPX) wins the Best +10 Fund Authority Score (The table below in this article presents The Skilled Investor's Fund Authority Score and other information for the SSgA S & P 500 Index Fund (SVSPX). The Skilled Investor has also published an article about lower cost S&P 500 index mutual funds that you can read, which is entitled: Low Cost S&P 500 Index Mutual [...])
- American Funds – Income Fund of America – Class A Shares (AMECX) rate a +2 Fund Authority Score (Fund Authority Scores rate mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) on the most important economic factors that influence individual investors' net long term diversified investment fund performance. The Skilled Investor developed the Fund Authority Score system to provide individual investors with concise and objective summaries of mutual funds and ETFs for comparisons within investment [...])
- Commodity Futures in Your Investment Portfolio (Commodity futures in your investment portfolio - Is there really any future for individual investors?
The Skilled Investor's previous article, "Be wary of the new investment asset classes," voiced skepticism about many supposedly new asset classes. This article delves into the financial science behind this skepticism, as it relates to one of these supposedly new asset [...])
- Risk-Free Investment Money Is Fantasy Money (
For Individual Investors Risk-Free Investment Money Is Fantasy Money
Securities with low investment risk and high investment returns are just fantasies.
No "risk-free" investment money is consistently and reliably available to individuals. Luck dominates skill in the securities markets. Clever investment selection is vastly over-hyped, and only the promoters tend to benefit. On average over long periods, [...])
- The Biggest Personal Finance Story of the Past 30 Years (
The Biggest Personal Finance Story of the Past 30 Years - Part 1
What could the biggest personal finance story of three decades be?
The growth of mutual funds and ETFs? Nope.
The dot com boom and bust? Nope.
Vanishing pensions? Nope.
The not-so-high quality of mortgage bonds? Nope.
A 0% personal savings rate nationally? [...])
- Two Examples of the Tax Assets Graphic in VeriPlan (Two examples of the Tax Assets graphic in VeriPlan
TAX ASSETS: Taxable and Tax-Advantaged Financial Assets (real $/yr)
Below are two examples of the blue-tabbed TAX ASSETS graphic, which come from VeriPlan's "Sue and Sam Saver" tutorial. This graphic separates their cash, bond, and stock assets by account taxability throughout their lifetime projections. Assets are separated [...])
- Roth IRA Contributions Versus Traditional IRA Contributions for Renters (Introduction: Roth IRA Contributions versus Traditional IRA Contributions for Renters
In a series of articles, The Skilled Investor compares different lifetime financial planning projections for Fran and Fred Frugal to illustrate the relative value of adopting different financial planning strategies. Fran and Fred, both ages 30, are a married working couple with $100,000 in combined annual [...])
- Traditional IRA and 401k Versus Roth IRA and Roth 401k Contributions (Traditional IRA and 401k versus Roth IRA and Roth 401(k) plan contributions
Many taxpayers puzzle over whether to contribute to traditional versus Roth tax-advantaged retirement plans. For most people, contributions to traditional tax-advantaged plans will probably provide a higher net present value over their lifetimes.
Given our tax-related software modeling capabilities, The Skilled Investor has some observations [...])
- Lifetime Investment Assets of Renters with Reduced Investment Costs (Lifetime investment assets of renters through investment cost improvements
Improving on Fran and Fred's lifetime financial plan through lower investment costs
Fran and Fred Frugal, both age 30, are a married working couple with $100,000 in combined annual earned income. They want to understand how valuable different personal finance strategies could be to their lifetime finances and [...])
- 22 Ways to Avoid Financial Advisor and Investment Counselor Frauds and Scams (Avoiding financial advisor and investment counselor frauds and scams - Overview
The best way to avoid being defrauded or scammed by a financial or investment advisor is to investigate carefully several different advisers before hiring one of them.
If you carefully choose a financial adviser or investment counselor, you have a far greater chance of finding one [...])
- Choose objective and competent financial advisers and investment counselors – Step 10 of 10 Financial Planning Steps in the Right Direction (CLICK HERE TO READ THE SKILLED INVESTOR's OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT THESE "10 FINANCIAL PLANNING STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Pick financial and investment advisers solely to obtain objective and high quality advice. Specific financial and investment advice is potentially of high quality, if it is carefully customized to your particular needs and is given by an [...])
- Advisor Costs and Strategies Determine Your Return on their Services (Financial advisor costs and the value of their investment strategies determine your return on investment from these investment advisor services
A previous financial article, “The Solution - ONLY follow financial strategies that are scientific, passive, diversified, savings focused, risk controlled, low cost, and tax efficient,” suggested that investors are much better off with a well-considered financial [...])
- Default under the Citibank Credit Card Contract (PIRATES OF THE CREDIT SEA - Part 6: Default under the Citibank credit card contract
This final article in this series discusses the seven conditions of default under the Citibank / ATT Universal card agreement.
It also expresses my opinions about contractual relationships in general and about the Citibank / AT&T Universal credit card contract in particular.