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How do I Handle a Dispute with a Bank?

Lori Smith
Lori Smith

Banking errors can be frustrating and costly for consumers, especially when issues are not addressed immediately after they are discovered. As soon as you notice that a problem exists, you should contact the financial institution. Many times, a helpful representative can resolve issues for you over the telephone. In some cases, a dispute with a bank requires a personal visit or a formal written letter. Before contacting the bank, however, be sure you have all of the pertinent information needed to validate your claim, including your account number, receipts, statements or other documentation that will be helpful to you.

Whether a dispute with a bank arises from unjustified penalty fees or a deposit that was inadvertently credited to the wrong account, it is important to maintain your composure when speaking to banking representatives. To increase your chances of achieving a favorable result, handle a dispute with a bank in a diplomatic fashion. Customers who let anger get the best of them risk hurting their relationships with the financial institution and lessen the likelihood that banking professionals will go out of their way to help.

The drive-thru at a bank.
The drive-thru at a bank.

Most financial institutions require that customers follow general procedures whenever a dispute with a bank arises. For example, you may need to complete various forms or provide supporting documentation within a specified period. For this reason, it is important to notify the bank when the error is discovered, and follow instructions carefully. Failure to comply with the institutions policies and requests, or waiting too long to submit information, may delay or preclude an amicable resolution.

Many disputes arise when customers review their bank statements and notice unauthorized charges have been assessed. If this happens, you should contact your financial institution immediately. Sometimes, however, the name of an organization that charges you for a purchase is not always the same as one you may recognize. For example, XYZ Store might bill customers under the name ABC Store.

To avoid the time-consuming process of filing a dispute with a bank for what may turn out to be a legitimate charge, double check receipts and compare them to your check register. See if the dollar amount charged coincides with any other purchases you may have recently made. If you do find a match, call the store first to confirm that the organization that billed you is, in fact, an affiliate. If not, then you should contact your bank immediately.

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    • The drive-thru at a bank.
      By: Sheri Armstrong
      The drive-thru at a bank.