When people write to us asking for help getting their money back, the first thing we tell them to try is to dispute the charges with your credit card company. We have found it to be one of the most effective ways in recovering money lost to scams. Unauthorized credit card charges are some of the most common ways these scammers steal money from you. Use the following tips to ensure that you don’t lose any more money.
Talk to the Merchant First
Contact whoever charged your credit card first. This works surprisingly well granted you are able to get in contact with an actual person. Explain to them that you want a refund or you did not authorize them to charge your credit card. If you find that the merchant doesn’t list any type of contact information, or they refuse to acknowledge your request, it’s time to get in contact with your credit card company.
The key here is that you are more likely to win a dispute after you’ve demonstrated that you have tried to talked to the merchant who charged you in the first place.
The Fair Credit Billing Act
There is a lovely piece of federal law that was enacted quite a few years back that protected consumers against unfair billing practices called the Fair Credit Billing Act. This act protects you against many unjust practices including:
- Unauthorized charges not made by you
- Charges that list the incorrect amount or date
- Charges for goods that were undelivered or that you didn’t accept
- Math errors
- Failure to post payments and other credits to your account;
- Charges that you want clarified or request proof of
To take full advantage of the law and start a dispute, you must first write to your creditor. This means you have to write out or type up and actual letter and mail it in. It must be sent to your creditors “Billing Inquiries” mailing address and you must include a full description of the error along with your name, address and account number. All of this must be done within 60 days of receiving the bill that contains the fraudulent or erroneous charge.
The FTC recommends that you send your letter through certified mail and that you have a return receipt requested. The also say to make copies of sales slips or any other document that will help support your decision. Do not mail away the originals! Keep a copy of the dispute letter for your own sake as well.
Your creditor now has 30 days to acknowledge that you are opening a dispute on a charge made on your credit card. Now you play the waiting game as your creditor looks into the charges and determines whether or not a refund should be issued. They are required to respond to your request within 90 days.
Before you start the above process, I highly recommend you speak with a customer support representative from you credit card holder. They will be able to explain the process in full and they will give you all the information you need in order to open a dispute. Be sure to see what your creditor has to say first.
This post was designed to give you the basics on how to dispute credit card charges. There’s no guarantee that the above will work, but it will get you started in the right direction. For more information, visit the FTC’s page on Fair Credit Billing.