You can start a dispute for a number of different reasons, such as a product not being what you thought it was to fraudulent charges you’ve found on your credit card account.
Things can happen, so we always recommend keeping an eye on your all of your credit card statements.
Let’s discuss your statement.
When you get your credit card statement each billing cycle, it’s important to review what charges have posted.
We live in a time where credit card numbers are stolen all the time, so make sure you’re always looking for fraudulent charges you didn’t make.
While it’s usually rare, billing errors can happen, so make sure you’re checking your credit card fees and interest also.
Now, what happens if you see unauthorized or improper charges on your account, can you dispute them?
With most credit card companies, you usually have 60 days to dispute credit card charges.
You’re also protected through the FTC. The Federal Trade Commission offers some legal rights and protections for those who start a credit card dispute.
However, these “rights” are limited and you want to make sure you know what those rights are.
So, when can file a dispute on a credit card charge?
There’s actually a number of different reasons you can dispute a credit card charge. Before you begin that process, it’s important that you’re aware of the guidelines the credit card company has in such a scenario.
Capital One, Discover, Credit One, American Express and others have variations in their guidelines for handling billing disputes. Most of them will give you the opportunity to start a fraud claim if you didn’t make certain credit card purchases at all or you can dispute improper fees that you were charged for.
While the process for a fraud claim can differ from one company to the next, the one thing that both fraud claims and other disputes have in common is the time limit for taking action. This specific time frame is federal law.
If you don’t act within the time frame stated by federal law or allowed by your credit card provider, you could lose the opportunity to get your money back for a questionable transaction. Again, this is why we highly recommend keeping an eye on your billing statement.
When Can I Dispute A Credit Card Charge?
You can dispute a charge on your credit card when;
The merchant or service provider made an error and charged you too much
A product you bought never arrived, or you never received a service you paid for
There were issues with the quality of the product or service you purchased
Most disputes can be initiated online, you can usually find an option in your account settings. If you don’t have an online account, you’ll likely be required to make one.
You can also make a fraud claim if your credit card was used without your permission, but most card issuers require you to go through a different process in cases of fraud, including providing prompt notice via phone.
A law you want to become familiar with is 18 U.S. Code section 1643.
This law guarantees you’ll not be responsible for more than $50 in fraudulent charges, so your card issuer must not charge you for fraud reported in a timely manner.
Most card issuers actually have $0 liability protection for fraud, so you won’t be held responsible for any of the costs of charges you didn’t make.
On the other hand, disputes work differently. You can only successfully dispute charges based on the quality of a product or service or the lack of delivery of the product or service if the transaction was for at least $50, took place in your home state or close to where your current billing address is, or took place online.
You must have also made a good-faith effort to work things out with the merchant and their customer service team before you dispute a charge—and you typically must provide documented proof to back up your assertions that there was a problem with the product or service.
Before You Dispute A Credit Card Charge
Before you dispute a credit card charge, we want to give you a few words of advice.
The law requires you to make a phone call to the merchant involved and ask them to address the issue. We always recommend taking this step anyway, go to the merchant first and see if they will correct the issue for you.
If a merchant made a mistake, most of them are going to take the time to make it right. If you’re not happy with a product or they accidently charged you too much for a product, nearly all merchants are going to take the steps needed to correct the issue. Going this route is much quicker and easier versus going another route.
Now, what happens if the merchant won’t correct the issue? In this scenario, it’s easy to lose your cool, so stay level headed.
Make sure you take the time to read your credit card agreement and the merchant’s agreement. For most cases, you should be able to find what you need in the Terms and Conditions section of the agreement.
The terms and conditions of these agreements may give you another avenue to pursue or it may limit your ability to successfully dispute the charges. If too much time has passed, you might find it very challenging to find recourse.
If your dispute is going to be unsuccessful anyway because of the credit card or merchant terms, there’s no sense going to the trouble initiating it online or writing a formal letter only to have the dispute rejected in the end. You can still try if you wish, but the terms are written and stone, that can be a good thing or bad.
The Law Does Protect You
You have the right to dispute unauthorized charges thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act. Get familiar with this law, it protects you.
You don’t have to pay the bill for a disputed amount, nor can the creditor charge you interest or late fees if the dispute turns out in your favor. While an investigation is going on, they can’t try to collect disputed funds also.
The law gives you 60 days to file a dispute. Some credit card companies give you 90 to 120 days, this will vary from one provider to the next.
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