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.

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Join the Discussion

  • mike

    If I missed the “60 days”, do I still have chance to dispute fraudulent credit card charge?my friend said I have up to 6 monthes to disput fraudulent credit card charge,time a little longer than billing dispute.what is my rights and what legal action can I take if I miss the “60 days”.thank you very much for your help.

  • Katelyn

    I got suckered into a company called Scooter’s Flashcast in Hollywood. They’re a non -agency kid’s talent show (something like that). When they emailed me and told me that my son’s picture was so cute that I can go in for an interview. Nothing was printed saying there was a fee.

    I went there and waited for hours patiently and they told me that they’ll be a fee of $1495. They moved you from one person to another. They keep complimenting us and distracting us from reading any fine letterings. I just gave him my credit card and he just send us off. I went home and did a search on this company and found that this company is a scam and they owner Carl is a convicted felon crook. I tried filing a fraud and they said it’s not a fraud because I authorized it. They wanted me to dispute with the merchant , but I’m not confident. I signed and initialed everything he wanted me to. He’s probably got lawyers and everybody all setup and ready for things like this. Even the district Attorney in Los Angeles Mark Lambert is afraid of him.

    Do you have any suggestion or advice for me as to how I can go about getting my money back? Thank you for reading.

  • Benjamin

    I have disputed many credit card charges for myself and assisted others with doing so as well. I can say that the time limit is the most important thing to remember. Dispute early, and document your dispute in a verifiable manner! If you have a legitimate issue, handling it early will almost always result in a satisfactory conclusion. Handling it late will give them the perfect excuse to deny you, even if the charge is bogus. Every month, look at your credit card bills and question any charges that you do not recognize.

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