Advice on When and How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge

Written by , January 5, 2012

Advice on When and How to Dispute a Credit Card ChargeEach year it seems that we do more and more of our shopping with credit cards. It’s hard to argue against the convenience of swiping a credit card over writing a check at (or making sure that you bring enough cash to) the grocery store. And it’s very difficult to try to purchase anything from an online merchant by a method other than a credit card.

But unlike those other methods of payment, credit cards are subject to more problems and vulnerabilities when it comes to unknown or unauthorized charges showing up on your account. If you think that there’s a charge on your credit card statement that you didn’t make, do you know how and when to dispute that charge, and try to get it reversed from your account?

Here’s some advice on when and how to dispute a credit card charge.

  • Make Sure the Charge is Truly Unauthorized. If you want to dispute a credit card charge that you don’t think you made, first be sure that the charge is actually an unauthorized one. Sometimes the billing name of a merchant will be different than the name of their store or the name that you know them by. If possible, compare your credit card statement with the receipts of what you’ve purchased over the past month before initiating a dispute. Furthermore, the unknown charge might actually be a renewal of a periodic membership that you previously authorized – so eliminate this possibility before beginning the dispute process.
  • Dispute the Charge After Contacting the Merchant. If you authorized the charge but are having a problem with the product or service, then you must attempt to resolve the charge with the merchant before contacting your credit card issuer. For the most part, if you have a valid dispute over the product or service you purchased, the merchant will be forthcoming in fixing the problem – they’d rather not have the dispute escalate to the credit card company, as this can affect the fees that they must pay to Visa or MasterCard.
  • Dispute Online if Possible. Many major credit card companies offer an online dispute mechanism. The process generally consists of logging into your credit card account, then using a web form to provide the details of the disputed transaction. If the transaction is one you’ve made, but which has some other problems, you’ll be asked to verify that you’ve tried to resolve the dispute first with your credit card company.
  • Dispute the Charge as Soon as Possible. Once you’ve discovered the questionable charge on your credit card statement, you should dispute the charge as soon as possible. If your credit card company requests supporting details or information, it’s easier to provide that information soon after the transaction occurred.
  • Your credit card provides you with protections against unauthorized charges, as well as protection against merchants that sell you defective products or inadequate services. In order to take advantage of these protections, make sure you follow the proper procedures for disputing any of those charges.

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