Credit cards offer protection. When customers have credit card disputes or debit card disputes, the bank that issued the credit card or debit card is expected to abide by the rules set by the card company.
Unauthorized Use and Genuine Mistakes
Consumers can find themselves involved in a variety of credit card disputes. These may result from card theft, stolen identity or the illicit use of the card or card number. The technical term for such acts is “unauthorized use.” If and when this happens, the law does not hold the cardholder liable. Neither will the bank.
Disputes also arise regarding the bill itself. Genuine mistakes happen. Your monthly statement may include a charge for services or products you did not order. Or services or products you did order but never received. Or services or products that the merchant, for whatever reason, did not provide.
From time to time consumers may also notice an inadvertent overcharge for a legitimate purchase. Call the merchant immediately if you discover this sort of problem. Keep in mind, however, that billing error rules recognize only certain specific billing error disputes.
Gray charges are those that you agreed to pay to the merchant when you bought a certain product or service. Not every merchant will inform you about them at the time of purchase. They typically appear in small print. Online, you typically find them under “Terms and Conditions.” Some examples are automatic renewals, mysterious subscriptions, cost creep, or “free” products that wind up costing money. There may be a symbolic or minimal initial charge. But after a period of time you may be paying for something you didn’t want. If so, you enjoy legal protection if this came about as a result of a credit card purchase.
And sometimes merchants may refuse a refund when one is justified. Like not providing the goods or services that you contacted. One example of these types of credit card disputes is the cancellation of a flight or another travel-related reservation. This problem became much more widespread with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many would-be travelers discovered that while booking their reservations was easy, it was far more difficult after the cancellation. But if they paid by credit card or debit card, at least they had a dispute to fall back on.
Dealing with Credit Card Disputes
As a consumer, you can minimize your credit card aggravation by doing the following:
- Ensure that you reconcile your bills regularly, diligently and on time
- Disprove unauthorized charges instantly – preferably before the next two billing cycles
- It is preferable to purchase your products or services using a credit card rather than a debit card − a credit card offers more security features and provides the consumer with more protection
- Exercise patience and kindness when dealing with your bank’s dispute department − yelling isn’t a good strategy
- Consider hiring an attorney only after you exhaust all other avenues, since the fee for representation can exceed the amount of money you want to recover
Credit Card Companies Will Investigate
You can dispute any charge that appears on your monthly bill. You should do so immediately if it is an expenditure that you did not authorize. Some lenders may tell credit card and debit card holders that you can report an authorized transaction only by notifying the bank in writing no more than 60 days from the day you received the bill. The truth is that the card companies guarantee you 120 days to do so. Under certain circumstances, that period can be even longer. Moreover, you can submit your notification by phone, not only in writing.
A card company or its duly authorized agent must investigate your claim within a reasonable period of time once it receives your request. The ensuing investigation can include an analysis of the signature on the credit card slip, a review of any relevant police report or a comparison of your address with that of the merchant.