Ginny Otte

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(Photo by Xu Jinbai/VCG via Getty Images)

Recently, I decided to make use of a great credit score to get a new store-issued credit card and make use of the perks of having one. At the time, I didn’t realize that the card issuer was in the middle of an overhaul that affected online access to their cards, just as I was attempting to activate a brand-new card.

For three days now, I’ve been trying to access my new account and between their overhaul and my new account holder status, I’ve not been lucky. Until they are done with everything, I’m sort of in limbo; wondering how the delays and lack of access may affect me if  it will affect me, and wondering what resources a customer has under unusual circumstances such as this.

So I began to search for the answer to the general question: “what happens if a person becomes the victim of an error made by a credit issuer?” just to ease my mind as I’ve always been a “worst-case scenario” person, to drive myself to always be prepared.

The American Bar Association advises what to do if you spot an error on your credit card statement, starting with contacting the merchant involved and your credit card company.  They also mention the Fair Credit Billing Act, a 1974 Federal law designed to protect consumers in disputes involving a  manner of issues that a consumer may run into.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outlines 5 simple steps to take to protect your credit while disputing, and how to complain effectively.  One of the great pieces of information is the assurance that they cannot report your payments as late to a credit reporting company if you paid an undisputed amount on time.

So basically, I know that I should just hang tight and wait for a paper statement to be mailed to me, examine it, and stop using this card until whatever technical glitches that currently exist are fixed on the bank’s end. If you’re like me, you know the importance of maintaining impeccable credit:  you can have a  high credit score with a small income, just as you can have a terrible credit score with a high income.

Credit scores are based on many different factors, which you can have ultimate control of if you are protective of your information and vigilant in your shopping habits. So stay vigilant, and protect your credit score–that’s your financial reputation which measures if you are a good credit risk.

Finally, if you ever run into a situation where you’re not comfortable with a credit card issuer, stop using the card for new purchases until your issue is resolved, but continue to pay all charges that are not in dispute.  At the end of the day, it’s your financial reputation on the line. Protect it!

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