Credit Card Disputes

Credit cards offer protection.  When a customer has a credit card dispute, the bank that issued the credit card is obliged to abide by the rules set by the credit card company.

Unauthorized Use, Genuine Mistakes and Grey Charges

Consumers can experience a variety of problems with credit cards.  These can result from card theft, stolen identity or the illicit use of the card or card number.  These acts are termed “unauthorized use.” If and when this happens, the consumer is not held liable under law.

Disputes may also arise on the bill itself.  Genuine mistakes are bound to happen.  You may be billed for services or products you did not order, or ordered but were undelivered or innocently overcharged for a legitimate purchase.  Call the merchant immediately if you experience this problem.  Only certain kinds of billing error disputes, however, are allowed under billing error rules.

Grey charges are those that you agreed to with a merchant by buying a certain product or services.  These may appear as automatic renewals, mysterious subscriptions, cost creep, or “free” products that end up costing money.  The initial charge may have been symbolic or minimal, but after a period of time it may be cost more than initially agreed.  You enjoy legal protection if this comes about as a result of a credit card purchase.

As a consumer, you can minimize your credit card aggravation by doing the following:

  • Ensure that your bills are reconciled 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 all other avenues have been exhausted, since fees for representation in such cases may eventually prove to be prohibitive

Credit Card Companies Will Investigate

You can dispute any charge that appears on your monthly bill and should do so immediately if it is an expenditure that was not authorized by you. Credit card holders may often be told by some lenders that an authorized use can only be reported by forwarding a written notification not more than 60 days from the day the bill was received.  The truth is that the credit card companies guarantee you 120 days to do so, and under certain circumstances that period can be extended even longer.  Moreover, the notification can be made by phone, not only in writing.

A credit card company is required to 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.