1/4/2013 2:15 PM ET|
Need help with a credit card spat?
Card issuers may help you dispute merchant charges, but what if your clash is with the credit card company itself? These agencies can help.
Have a beef with your credit card company? If customer service won't help, you may want to bring your credit card dispute to someone who will.
Thankfully, you have plenty of choices. A number of agencies are ready to stand with you during disputes over interest rates, mysterious charges, stolen credit card numbers and a host of other credit card issues.
Here are some of the biggest players, ranging from nonprofits to government agencies. Check out where they're located, how they can help and the best ways to contact them.
The Better Business Bureau is a nonprofit that takes complaints from consumers, publishes free reviews of credit card companies and assigns the companies grades based on its analysis. The headquarters vary by state.
When to use: You have mysterious charges on your credit card.
How they help: If you cannot work out your grievance with your credit card company, the agency offers free mediation and arbitration services. Most issues typically are resolved within 30 days.
The Federal Trade Commission is a government agency that's responsible for preventing unfair business practices for consumers. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
When to use: You want to file a complaint against your credit card company.
How they help: The bureau does not resolve individual consumer complaints, but it documents them and works with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, to regulate consumer financial products and services.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a government agency that polices banks and other financial companies with the goal of restricting unfair or deceptive practices. Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
When to use: You have a dispute over billing or interest rates, issues with closing an account, or concerns about identity theft or fraud.
How they help: Once you file a complaint, the bureau will forward the grievance to the credit card company, giving it 15 days to respond, with the expectation of resolving the issue within 60 days. The bureau can take civil action against companies.
Your state attorney general
The state attorneys general are chief legal advisers and law enforcement officers for each state government. The headquarters vary by state.
When to use: The state is investigating claims of shady practices by your credit card company.
How they help: Your attorney general can file a lawsuit against your credit card company, but only as counsel for the state (not for you personally).
Contact: Find your state’s attorney general on the National Association of Attorneys General website, then determine if your complaint warrants attention
The Secret Service
You may think of the Secret Service as the guys in sunglasses protecting the president. But the Secret Service is primarily a federal law enforcement agency responsible for protecting the nation's financial infrastructure and payment systems. The agency is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
When to use: Your credit card number has been stolen from a tampered-with ATM, or you're a victim of some other kind of ID theft.
How they help: The Secret Service conducts criminal investigations of those who have committed identity theft and fraud.
Contact: If the issue falls within the agency’s jurisdiction, find your local field office at the Secret Service website.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an investigative agency that tackles complex, elaborate cases of fraud pose serious threats to the U.S. economy. The agency's headquarters are in Washington, D.C.
When to use: You're a victim of a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.
How they help: The FBI cannot levy fines, but it will refer your complaints, as needed, to the appropriate law enforcement or regulatory agency.
Contact: Find your local FBI office to determine if the violation falls within FBI jurisdiction.
More from Bankrate.com:
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I filed a claim with the BBB of Western Washington state and they did nothing. I also contacted the attorney generals office of Washington state and they said there was nothing they could do to help either with the BBB lack of acton or the merchant who made unapproved charges to my card. (they found "no problem?) The credit card company (Visa)was unwilling to help and sided with the merchant even after they admitted in writing they did not know if the charges were approved or not. Also contact a new federal agency that is supposed to help with these situation and guess what - they did nothing either. You are on your own in these matters as it's all about the money and the card issuer is not your friend.
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