(MoneyWatch) Americans have been given a wide array of protections when dealing with companies that sell everything from automobiles to mortgages. But when it comes to credit rights, a surprising number of consumers have their rights all wrong, according to CreditDonkey, a credit shopping web site.
Do you know your rights? Take CreditDonkey's quiz to see. It's worth mentioning that this excerpt on credit rights is only part of what they asked consumers about this summer. The site also took a close look at how Americans handle their debt. For a glimpse of the payments the average American will skip when they're in economic trouble, the most debt they've carried at one time, and what they'd do with a windfall, check out Credit Donkey's Credit Card Debt in America survey here.
1. The Fair Credit Reporting Act limits your responsibility to pay unauthorized charges made on a credit card. What is the maximum amount that you could be held responsible to pay?
2. If you have a fixed-rate credit card, when does the Card Act allow your issuer to raise your interest rate? (More than one answer can be correct.)
a) After three months
b) After a year
c) When you miss more than one payment
d) When the fixed rate is only for an introductory period
3. When can a credit card issuer raise your rates on an existing balance? (Pick as many answers as apply.)
a) Any time
b) If you make a late payment on a different card
c) When you file bankruptcy
d) After 60 days notice
e) After 45 days notice
f) When you make a late payment
g) Following a disclosed introductory period
h) Only when it's a variable-rate card
4. How quickly must you dispute a charge on your credit card to qualify for federal consumer protections?
a) Within one billing cycle
b) Within 15 days
c) Within 45 days
d) Within 60 days
e) Within 6 months
5. Must you pay a disputed balance while the charge is being investigated?
1.) The maximum amount of unauthorized charges you could be held responsible for is $50, however most credit card companies won't even ask for that. The survey said: Equal numbers -- just under 30% voted for the correct $50 and the incorrect $500. Some 24% guessed $100.
2.) The B, C and D answers are all correct. The Card Act generally prohibits issuers from calling a card "fixed-rate" unless the rate lasts at least a year. However, if a consumer misses payments, or if the card has a two-tiered rate, the rate can rise more quickly. The survey said: 43.7% correctly answered that issuers could raise rates on a fixed card after a year. Slightly more people said they could raise rates after six months.
3.) The final three answers - F, G, and H are all correct. The survey said: Two-thirds of respondents got this one right, while nearly 17% said issuers could raise rates whenever they felt like it; and 14% said they would raise rates when you applied for too much credit.
4.) D, within 60 days. The survey said: 39% thought you had to dispute a charge within 30 days; 15.5% thought it was within 45 days; 22% thought you could take up to 90 days. Just 23.4% knew they had 60 days.
5.) No. You must make payments on the undisputed balance and you may have to pay interest on the disputed balance while it's being investigated, but you do not need to pay the disputed balance itself. The survey said: Respondents were almost equally divided, with 50.2% saying you had to pay the disputed balance, while 49.8% said you didn't.