No one looks forward to reviewing their monthly credit card statements. But, what should you do if you find an unauthorized charge? Although frustrating, the good news is that these kinds of mistakes are reversible. If you disagree with a charge on your credit card, or believe it was an error, you will have to dispute credit card charges with your card issuer.
What is the Timeframe to Dispute Credit Card Charges?
Disputing a Charge
When it comes to errors on your credit card statement, the sooner you act the better. You typically have 60 days to dispute credit card charges. The deadline applies to both fraudulent charges and contesting purchases that did not meet expectations. However, you should check the information included in your card member agreement or look it up online in case your credit card company has a different policy.
Keep in mind that the clock starts from the day your credit card company postmarked your statement or made it available to you online. Therefore, waiting for a hard copy of your statement could cost you valuable time. If you wait too long, you will be on the hook for the charges.
Appealing the Results of an Investigation
If you have already submitted your dispute, the credit card company must also adhere to strict deadlines. Once they receive your claim, the company has one month to respond or acknowledge it. They have an additional two billing cycles to conduct an investigation into the matter. Once the company completes their investigation, they must notify you in writing with the results and final decision. If the company chooses not to remove the charge, you have 10 days to respond. Otherwise, the law views it as a closed case with no further recourse.
When Should You Dispute a Credit Card Charge?
Although there are several situations in which you should dispute credit card charges, they usually fall under one of these categories.
An unauthorized charge is any purchase made without your permission. While this is usually the result of someone stealing your card, it also happens if a friend or family member uses your card without your express permission. In the most serious cases, unauthorized charges may indicate that you have become a victim of fraud or identity theft.
Billing or Clerical Errors
You should also dispute any charges due to billing or clerical errors. This covers a wide range of mistakes including mathematical errors in the amount charged, repeat transactions or double charging, and failure to post credits or payments to your account.
A Merchant Provides Unsatisfactory Services or Products
Lastly, you also can dispute charges if your purchase did not meet your expectations. As long as you have already contacted the merchant and attempted to resolve the problem about the transaction, your credit card company can help you dispute these charges. Furthermore, they can assist you with refunds on items that were damaged or never arrived. Unfortunately, this service is limited only for purchases of more than $50.
How Do You Dispute Credit Card Charges?
When you find unauthorized charges, you will need to contact your credit card company to remove it. Oftentimes, it’s a simple process since most companies have a zero-liability policy. This means you are not responsible for any unauthorized charges. However, there may be different processes for handling disputes depending on the credit card company.
Call the credit card company directly.
The easiest way to dispute a charge is by calling the number on the back of your card. You can speak directly with a customer service agent and report the charge. In most instances, they will remove it and file the dispute on your behalf. If necessary, they can follow up with you by email. However, if it requires more action, this is also a good chance to find out what the company needs from you to proceed.
Submit your dispute in writing.
Many experts advise that you also write a letter including details about the charge. You have to be careful when using the issuer’s website or app to file a dispute. Sometimes there are arbitration clauses that limit your rights to dispute a credit card charge in the fine print. Submitting your dispute in writing is a good way to follow up any phone conversations and establish a paper trail. Furthermore, a letter preserves rights to dispute charges that online options might eliminate.
Additionally, the credit card may also request more documentation from you. This would be a good opportunity to include copies of your statement, receipts, police reports, and any other relevant information. Make sure to keep the original documents for yourself, but send copies of everything to Billing Inquiries. It is also wise to use certified mail and ask for a return receipt in case you need proof later on.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
The best thing you can do for yourself is to know your rights. The Fair Credit Billing Act outlines all of the consumers’ rights when disputing a charge. There is a standardized procedure everyone must follow, including creditors. Any deviation from the process could result in a dismissal of the claim.
Another way to avoid unauthorized is by making it a regular habit to check your statements regularly and monitor your accounts using online banking. When you see a discrepancy, you can take immediate action on charges you do not recognize or did not make. You can also set notifications and alerts. If you respond to an issuer’s alert, it makes a much stronger case for removing disputed charges.
Finally, keep records of everything. Take detailed notes of every interaction with the credit card company and merchants. Be sure to write down names, ID numbers, dates, times, and a summary of your conversations. If it ends up in legal action, you will have everything prepared to support your claim. In all likelihood, you won’t need it. But, it is better to be prepared for anything, just in case.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.