People love credit cards for the rewards points and generous welcome bonuses they offer. But the good feelings can dissipate quickly if you become a victim of fraud. These days, when credit card fraud is so prevalent, it’s crucial that you know how to dispute a credit card charge. But while some laws give consumers the right to do that, there are stipulations within those laws, such as time limits on disputes, that are important for you to know. Understanding the right way to dispute a credit card charge will help you avoid getting ripped off.
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The Right Way to Dispute a Credit Card Charge
The right way to dispute a credit card charge will vary depending on why you’re fighting the charge. For instance, are you disputing because the charge was entirely fraudulent? Is there a billing error? Are you dissatisfied with the service you received, or was the service not performed?
I’ll explain how to dispute a credit card charge based on the type of transaction you’ve experienced.
Unauthorized Credit Card Charges
An unauthorized credit card charge is a charge applied to your credit card account without your authorization. Typically, unauthorized use involves some kind of fraud or theft.
As an example, several years back, I checked my credit card account to find a $1,500+ charge for a resort in Jamaica. Having been long overdue for a vacation at the time, I knew full well that this was an unauthorized charge.
If you receive an unauthorized charge on your credit card account, the first thing you’ll want to do is call the customer service phone number on your card. The automated prompts should direct you to the fraud department.
Each credit card company will have varying rules on how to handle an unauthorized charge. And the procedure may depend on the type of charge.
For instance, in my case, the customer service rep from the credit card company could see from my transaction history that I rarely travel. This helped things. I was off the phone in about five minutes with a promise that the charge would be removed, and it was.
However, if you are disputing a charge at a store you shop at frequently, you may have to take additional measures to prove the charge was fraudulent.
Two Rules for Unauthorized Charges
Note: It’s essential to keep in mind two rules regarding credit cards and unauthorized charges:
- You, as a consumer, are liable for the first $50 of an unauthorized charge (although most credit card companies won’t hold you responsible for any amount).
- You must dispute the charge within 60 days of the unauthorized charge if you want reimbursement.
Next, let’s talk about billing errors.
Credit Card Billing Errors
Billing errors on credit cards can include fraudulent charges but also include:
- Authorized charges that list the wrong date or amount
- Charges for goods/services you didn’t accept or weren’t delivered as agreed upon
- Math errors
- Failure on behalf of the credit card company to post payments, returns, or other credits
- Failure to send a bill, in writing, to your current address at least 20 days before the billing period ends
Of course, the last example only applies if the credit card company has your current address and you haven’t agreed to electronic statement delivery. You must file the dispute within 60 days, as with basic fraudulent charges. The credit card company then has 30 days to respond.
While the complaint is being investigated, you are not responsible for the monies owed. However, you are responsible for any balance owing unrelated to the billing error in question.
Disputing a Charge Due to Dissatisfaction
You may also dispute a credit card charge due to dissatisfaction with services rendered or products not received.
For instance, let’s say a company performs some work on your home. If the work wasn’t done as agreed or wasn’t done correctly, you have the right to dispute the credit card charge added to your card balance.
Because disputes over dissatisfaction aren’t officially billing errors, the dispute process is handled differently.
First, the purchase must be for over $50. Second, the seller must be within 100 miles of your current billing address. Third, you must have made a “good faith” effort to resolve the issue with the seller.
If all three of these rules apply and you’ve made no progress, contact the credit card company and get instructions to proceed.
Below is the contact information for several major credit card companies for easy reference if you need to reach them.
Contact Information for Major Credit Card Companies
All information listed is current as of the time of writing and is for customer service, including disputes.
Phone Number: 1-800-528-4800
Mailing Address: American Express
P.O. Box 981535
El Paso, TX 79998-1535
Bank of America
Phone Number: 1-800-732-9194
Mailing Address: Bank of America
P.O. Box 982234
El Paso, TX 79998-2234
Phone Number: 1-800-227-4825
Mailing Address: Capital One
P.O. Box 30279
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0279
Phone Number: 1-800-955-9060
Mailing Address: Chase Bank Card Services
Attn: Billing Inquiries
P.O. Box 15298
Willmington, DE 19850
Phone Number: 1-800-950-5114
Mailing Address: Citi® Customer Service
Attn: Billing Inquiries
P.O. Box 65006
Sioux Falls, SD 57117
Phone Number: 1-800-347-2683
Mailing Address: Discover Bank
Attn: Billing Inquiries
P.O. Box 30416
Salt Lake City, UT 84130
Phone Number: 1-844-406-7427
Mailing Address: Synchrony Bank
P.O. Box 105972
Atlanta, GA 30348-5972
Phone Number: 1-800-285-8585
Mailing Address: Cardmember Service
P.O. Box 790408
St. Louis, MO 63179-0408
Phone Number: 1-800-869-3557
Mailing Address: Wells Fargo Card Services
P.O. Box 51193
Los Angeles, CA 90051-5493
If you need the customer service numbers or mailing addresses for other credit card companies, please see the company’s customer service or contact page on their website.
Another critical piece of information regarding unauthorized credit card purchases is that many credit card companies now give you the option to receive a notification when they suspect a charge may be unauthorized.
Check your credit card company’s website to find out if the company offers such a feature. You may have to opt-in for this feature and share how you want the company to contact you in the event that it suspects fraudulent credit card activity.
Here’s an example of a credit card dispute letter you can use to draft your own dispute letter:
Credit Card Dispute Sample Letter
When you send a credit card dispute letter, the letter must be clear and concise. Be sure to include every detail of the dispute, including:
- Date of the dispute
- What exactly you’re disputing
- Why do you feel the charge is unauthorized
- What attempts (if any) you’ve made to resolve the issue
Here is an example of a credit card dispute letter for your reference:
[Your name here]
[Your address here]
[Your city, state, and zip code here]
[Name of creditor]
[Creditor city, state, and zip code}
RE: [Your credit card account number here]
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to dispute a credit card charge (or billing error) on my account. The error occurred on September 26, 2023 in the amount of [amount] and was charged by [the company that made the charge].
I am disputing the charge due to [explain the issue]. I would like the dollar amount of [enter amount here] to be credited to my account.
Enclosed are copies of supporting documents, including [list supporting documents such as your statement, receipts, legal papers, or other supporting evidence that backs your right to dispute the charge].
Please investigate this matter and make the appropriate credit to my account within the standards required by law.
[Your name here]
Be sure to keep a copy of your signed letter and note on the letter when and where you mailed it from. Also, keep notes on any follow-up conversations or attempts you make to communicate with the credit card holder and the company you’re in dispute with.
Your notes are important because they create a timeline of efforts on your behalf to resolve the issue within the legal guidelines set by the Federal Trade Commission.
Unfortunately, credit card fraud statistics show that credit card fraud and other disputes continue to rise. Knowing how to dispute a credit card charge within the boundaries of the law is essential for anyone who uses a credit card regularly. Work to protect your money by keeping a close eye on credit card and bank activity, and remember to use this guide to take steps to help you promptly resolve fraudulent activity on your credit card.