You have 60 days from the date a periodic statement containing a problem or error was sent to you to notify your financial institution. The best way to protect yourself if an error occurs – including erroneous charges or withdrawals from an account, or for a lost or stolen ATM or debit card – is to notify the financial institution by certified letter, return receipt requested, so you can prove that the institution received your letter. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
If you fail to notify the institution of the error within 60 days, you may have little recourse. Under federal law, the institution has no obligation to conduct an investigation if you’ve missed the 60-day deadline.
Once you’ve notified the financial institution about an error on your statement, it has 10 business days to investigate. The institution must tell you the results of its investigation within three business days after completing it and must correct an error within one business day after determining that the error has occurred. If the institution needs more time, it may take up to 45 days, in most situations, to complete the investigation – but only if the money in dispute is returned to your account and you’re notified promptly of the credit. At the end of the investigation, if no error has been found, the institution may take the money back if it sends you a written explanation.
An error also may occur in connection with a point-of-sale purchase with a debit card. For example, an oil company might give you a debit card that lets you pay for gas purchases directly from your bank account. Or you may have a debit card that can be used for various types of retail purchases. These purchases will appear on your periodic statement from the bank. In case of an error on your account, however, you should contact the card issuer (for example, an oil company or a bank) at the address or phone number provided by the company. Once you’ve notified the company about the error, it has 10 business days to investigate and tell you the results. In this situation, it may take up to 90 days to complete an investigation. If no error is found at the end of the investigation, the institution may take back the money if it sends you a written explanation.