On Day Two of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), it unveiled its online Credit Card Complaint form. It is available here: http://tinyurl.com/3o9p8pr. Enter a complaint and the CFPB says “We’ll forward your issue to your credit card company, give you a tracking number, and keep you updated on the status of your complaint.” In keeping with the unique look of the CFPB’s website, the form is neat, sleek and real simple, but there’s a problem – credit card holders may lose important rights when deciding to use the CFPB’s portal as their only form of making disputes.
Credit card disputes can come in many forms. One that immediately comes to mind is a dispute concerning an item appearing on a credit card bill. Credit card billing disputes are governed by the Fair Credit Billing Act, 15 USC 1666 (“FCBA”). The FCBA has very particular requirements to make an effective billing dispute. The dispute must be made by the “obligor,” contain certain information, be made at a certain time, sent to a particular address for the card issuer and received by the card issuer within a certain time. None of this information appears in the CFPB’s Credit Card Complaint form, on the same page or even in its website. Using the “search” function appearing on its main page, entering “credit card billing dispute” returned: “Sorry Nothing matched your search criteria. Please try using some different keywords.” See the result at this link: Search results for _credit card billing dispute_ _ Consumer Financial Protec
Will the CFPB dispute form qualify as an effective dispute within the FCBA? Maybe, but it is hard to discern until the disputes start appearing. The absence of any information in the CFPB Credit Card Complaint form concerning the timing of disputes and the particulars that must be contained in the dispute could cause problems for those who elect to use the form as their only method of making a FCBA dispute.
In comparison, the Federal Trade Commission’s website (http://tinyurl.com/8jzxqy) provides consumers with detailed information for making a billing dispute and provides a form letter to send to the card issuer. The FTC also offers some good advice that making a dispute: “takes a little patience and knowledge of the dispute settlement procedures provided by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).” Yes, it does. But, you will not receive that knowledge at the CFPB’s site. However, you will get a “tracking number.”