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Credit Card Applications » Questions » User Questions » Other » I recently got my first credit card and I am wondering how am I protected and who I should turn to in the ...

I recently got my first credit card and I am wondering how am I protected and who I should turn to in the event I have a problem with the issuer.

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The first thing to do should you ever find yourself in a dispute with your credit card issuer is to attempt to settle the problem by calling up your credit card company and speaking to one of their customer service representatives. Sometimes more than one call is required to completely resolve a situation. If you have made several attempts to resolve a problem with your credit card issuer but have not had any success or if you are displeased with the outcome, then you have a number of different outside resources to choose from to turn to for assistance, depending on the nature of the problem.

Know that there is something called the Truth In Lending Act that protects you from any unfair lending practices demonstrated by credit card companies. This act is in place to ensure that any offers extended to you by an issuer must really and truly be available to qualifying applicants. Likewise, all the terms and conditions on any card you apply for must be fully disclosed by the issuer in comprehensible written form, such as the interest rate and other costs associated with that account.

There is also something called the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act which is the most recent consumer protection law enacted by the Federal Government. The law covers a lot of ground, but a couple key points you should definitely be aware of are 1) that under the CARD Act all consumers must be notified of any fee, rate or finance charge increases 45 days before the card issuer applies them to your account and 2) provided that you pay your credit card bill on time and in accordance to the terms originally agreed upon, the APR on any existing balances cannot be increased.

Should your credit card ever get lost or stolen and fraudulent charges appear posted to your account, the Fair Credit Billing Act restricts your financial responsibility for those unauthorized charges to $50. Likewise, you do not have to pay for other incorrect charges such as double charges, items that you ordered yet never received or any goods or services that were not as described or that you refused to accept.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is in place to ensure that the information on your credit report that is reported to credit bureaus by banks or lenders is correct. This act gives you the right to have access to your credit information in the form of one free credit report annually or any time you suspect fraudulent activity on your account. Also under the act, you have the right to dispute any incorrect entries on your credit report. Once you have submitted a dispute, any unverifiable or false information will be removed from your records. And finally this act places a limit on the length of time any negative information can stay upon your credit report, such as late payments and defaults which vanish after 7 years and Chapter 7 bankruptcies which disappear after a decade.

Contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau located in Iowa City, Iowa if you cannot settle any credit card grievances with your card issuer. Their website is www.consumerfinance.gov and their phone number is (855) 411-2372.

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