Credit cardholders may need to file a dispute for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are unauthorised charges or a difference in the billed cost of an item or items. Typically, the credit card company investigates the charges in conversation with the merchant during the dispute process. Most credit card companies include information on how to resolve a credit card dispute on the customer’s credit card statements or on their website. Consumers have certain rights when it comes to credit card disputes, as they are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA); however, there is usually a time limit within which consumers can dispute a billing error (usually 60 days), and consumers may still be liable for the first $50 of unauthorised charges. Customers have up to one year to assert “claims and defences” rights on any unpaid disputed charge. Knowing your rights and the options available to you can help you save time and frustration if you need to dispute a charge.
Method 1 Catching a Discrepancy
1. Examine your credit card statements. Every month, carefully review your statement for any instances of fraud or unauthorised charges. You may also be able to access your statement online, which can assist you in keeping track of your account on a daily or weekly basis. If you have a debit card, you should also check the balance of your online checking account on a regular basis.
Keep your receipts. You’ll need your receipt if you need to return something, and having a receipt can help you double-check how an item was rung up at the register.
2. Try to work out a solution with the merchant. Whether you were overcharged for an item, rang up multiple times for the same item, or believe you’ve been the victim of credit card fraud, contacting the merchant may be a good place to start. Some merchants are willing to work with customers in-store to resolve credit card disputes. In cases where a customer disputes the quality or condition of goods/services, the customer may be required to try to resolve the issue with the merchant before filing a charge dispute with the credit card company, emphasising the importance of alerting the merchant as soon as possible.
Be courteous and polite. Remember that, in the case of fraud, it may not be the merchant’s fault. Customers who are angry and demanding are less likely to respond politely and respectfully.
Even if you try to resolve the problem with the merchant, you should also notify your credit card company about the discrepancy. This is due to the fact that, in the case of fraud, the abuse may have originated within the store where the unauthorised charge occurred.
3. Learn about your consumer rights. You have certain rights under the Fair Credit Billing Act if there is a charge discrepancy (FCBA). Some merchants, however, may attempt to limit those rights. Some online retailers, for example, have sales policies that limit a customer’s right to dispute charges and threaten to include disputing customers on a chargeback abuser list. This is a violation of both the FCBA and the user policies in place at the majority of major credit card companies.
Customers have the right to dispute any billing errors, incorrect charges, or fraudulent charges.
Under the FCBA, credit card companies may not harm or threaten to harm a consumer’s credit for refusing to pay disputed charges while the charges are being investigated.
Credit card companies are not allowed to demand payment for disputed charges while they are being investigated. While a charge is being disputed, credit card companies are also prohibited from filing a collection lawsuit against the consumer.
Consumers have the right to withhold payment for incomplete or unsatisfactory services until the credit card company investigates the claim and makes a decision. A consumer who wishes to stop payments must notify the credit card company and be willing to make the payment if the investigation determines that the consumer was still responsible for making that payment. The consumer is expected to attempt to resolve the dispute with the party or parties who provided the unsatisfactory/incomplete services.
The FCBA requires that all disputed transactions be investigated and resolved as soon as possible in order to protect consumers from fraud and abuse.
4. Learn about the limitations and defences to chargeback claims. Disputing a charge under the defence of “claims and defences” entitles you to notify the bank that issued your credit card of the unauthorised charge for up to one year from the date of the statement that detailed the charge. You may be eligible for a chargeback if you meet the requirements for a claims and defences dispute. However, a chargeback, which is the reversal of an unauthorised charge, has its own set of limitations and restrictions. It is just as important to understand your limitations as it is to understand your rights.
The amount in dispute must be greater than $50.
If you have already paid off your credit card debt, you can no longer dispute an unauthorised charge using the “claims and defences” defence. If you have only paid a portion of your bill, you may still dispute the balance that you haven’t paid.
The disputed transaction cannot be with a merchant who is more than 100 miles away from your home or who is located outside of your state of residence. If, for example, you use your credit card to purchase an item while on vacation out of state and return home to find that the box was empty or contained the incorrect item, you still have 60 days to notify your bank and exercise your “billing errors” rights. However, because the item was purchased outside of the covered region for claims and defences, you will be ineligible to file a claims and defences dispute if you miss the 60-day window.
Before you can dispute the charge with the bank that issued the credit card, you must first make a good faith effort to obtain a refund or store credit from the merchant. Sending a written correspondence or a cancellation notice to the merchant counts as an attempt to obtain a refund or store credit.
Be prepared for a customer service representative who is unfamiliar with “claims and defences” rights and may attempt to refuse your dispute if more than 60 days have passed. In this case, make it clear, either in your letter or over the phone, that you are exercising your “claims and defences” rights under state and federal law, and that those rights are not subject to the 60-day limitation that “billing error” rights are.
Method 2 Resolving Billing Errors
1. Write a letter apologising for the billing error. When you suspect a billing error has occurred and the merchant fails to resolve the issue for you, you must notify the card issuer within 60 days of discovering the error. Send all correspondence via certified mail so you can obtain a receipt confirming the date each letter was sent/received. Let the card issuer know the date of the disputed purchase(s), and provide as many details as possible to help build your case. The credit card company must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days, and the issue must be resolved within two billing cycles, not to exceed 90 days. On the Federal Trade Commission’s website, you can find a sample letter that you can use as a template for your billing error letter.
Include your full name, mailing address, and account number.
List the date of the disputed charge, the amount charged, and your reasoning for believing the charge was made in error.
If you still have the receipt, include a photocopy of it.
Instead of writing a letter, you can file a dispute online at your card issuer’s website or over the phone at your card issuer’s customer service number.
2. Maintain a professional and courteous demeanour. If you have a billing error on your account, it is most likely not the fault of the credit card company. Even if the credit card company made a mistake, the customer service representative you call or write to isn’t liable, and he’s probably your best bet for getting the problem resolved. “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” as the saying goes, and this is especially true in customer service correspondence.
Be well-organized. Before you call or write to the credit card company, make sure you have all of the information you’ll need. That way, you won’t get frustrated looking for something when you really need it.
Maintain a professional and courteous demeanour. If the representative provides his name, address him by name. If the representative you’re speaking with is unable to assist you, politely and calmly request to speak with a supervisor.
Maintain a detailed written record of all correspondence with the credit card company. That way, if necessary, you can refer back to previous letters or conversations.
If you call a customer service representative, make sure you have enough time to talk. It’s not going to be resolved right away, so make time to call when you don’t have any other commitments.
3. Wait for the card company to conduct an investigation. Though waiting for the credit card company to investigate your dispute can be stressful, it’s important to know what to expect during this time.
During the investigation, you are not required to make any payments toward the disputed charge. You must, however, continue to make payments on all other charges that are not in dispute.
While the charge is being reviewed, the card issuer cannot take legal action against you to collect on the disputed charge. The card issuer may also not threaten the consumer’s credit rating or report the consumer as a delinquent cardholder.
4. You will be informed of the outcome. The decision must be sent to the consumer in writing no later than 90 days after the card issuer receives the initial dispute letter. That decision must either explain what steps will be taken to correct the charges if they are found to be incorrect, or it must explain how much money you owe and why if the charges are found to be correct.
Even if the charges are found to be correct, you may not be required to pay the disputed amount if the card issuer took more than 30 days to respond to your initial dispute letter or conducted the investigation over more than two billing cycles. You are also exempt from payment if the card issuer threatened or actually reported you as a delinquent card holder while the charge is being disputed.
Method 3 Resolving Fraudulent Charges
1. Notify your card issuer right away. If you believe you have been a victim of credit card fraud, you must immediately notify your card issuer. Most major credit card companies have 24-hour hotlines where customers can report stolen cards and fraudulent purchases. These numbers are typically found on the back of your credit card and on billing invoices sent by your card company. If your credit card is linked to your bank account, you may also need to notify your bank of the incident.
2. You should cancel your credit card. When you report the fraudulent charge, your card issuer will most likely cancel the card (s). If the card issuer does not cancel your card at that time, you should notify the customer service department at your card company that your card’s security has been compromised. When you call to cancel your old card, you can also request a new card.
3. Think about submitting a legal report. Victims of credit card fraud may be able to report the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center or file a police report.
Include your full name, mailing address, and phone number.
Include the name and location of the business, as well as its website and email address, if you believe it was involved in the fraudulent charges.
Give as many specifics as you can about how and when the fraud occurred.
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