How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge

Laura Slawny • May 18, 2016

If you find a suspicious charge on your credit card, you have every right to fight it.

These days, disputing a credit card charge is easier than ever and it may stop identity theft.

It’s up to the merchant to prove you made the charge in the amount they claim.

Here’s how you can protect yourself

What’s covered:

  • Unauthorized charges to your credit card
  • Incorrect amounts or dates and double billing
  • Charges for goods that were damaged or never arrived
  • Failure to send bills to your current address 20 days before due
  • Failure to post credits

What to do

1. If you have charges you don’t recognize and suspect fraud, call the credit card company right away.

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you are only responsible for the first $50 and many companies will waive that fee if you report the charges quickly.

If the error is a simple math mistake or you were charged for damaged goods, call the merchant directly and ask them to resolve the problem. If they agree, give them a short window to make it right.

You only have 60 days from the statement date to report the error and some require a written statement within that time frame.

2. If the merchant will not cooperate, collect as much information as you can about the charge before you call the credit card company.

Collect receipts and paperwork pertaining to the charge to streamline the complaint process.

Keep in mind that you have 10 days to appeal  with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

3. Call your credit card company and report the error.

You may be asked to send a written complaint or other documentation. Be sure to get the correct address or fax number for billing inquires to avoid lost paperwork.

4. Ask the customer service agent to remove the charge from your bill until the matter is resolved.

Most will agree, however, you are still responsible to pay the remainder of that bill, including all finance charges.

5. Keep notes on the time and day you called, who you talked to and what they told you to do next.

According to the Fair Credit Billing Act, issuers have to acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days. Then they have 90 days to resolve the dispute.

Resolutions

  • If the charge is confirmed to be a mistake, the credit card company must send you written notice as to how they will fix it and remove any finance charges and late fees.
  • If they determine you owe a portion of the disputed charge, they must send you written details, but you can request copies of the documents that proved you owe the money.
  • If the investigation determines you owe the entire charge, they must send you a written explanation. You will also have to pay finance charges and fees.

At this point, the credit card company can hand it over to a collection agency.

However, any reports to credit reporting agencies must include a note that you dispute the charge.

You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or sue a creditor for damages if the amount is between $500 and $5,000.

Federal law gives you several ways to protect your money and it’s as easy as following a few simple steps.

Looking to open a new credit card? Check out our list of 2014’s best credit cards.

Photo source: thenest.com.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Laura Slawny

Laura Slawny is an award-winning executive news producer with more than 15 years experience writing about issues that impact families all over America. Since 2012, her focus on personal finance has helped consumers in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Laura believes complex financial concepts should be easy for everyone to understand. Her work appears on multiple consumer websites, both as an author and ghost writer. She also enjoys writing about leadership and healthy living. Connect with Laura on Google+.