How to Dispute Unauthorized Credit Card Charges and Get Your Money Back
How to Dispute Bank Charges
Whether your bank has made a mistake on your statement, you received a defective product, or your credit or debit card was used without your permission, federal law and Federal Reserve regulations protect your rights when you need to dispute bank charges. These laws govern both credit and debit card transactions. However, you must follow the required procedures and dispute the transaction before the deadline passes if you want to take advantage of these consumer protections and get your money back.
Correcting a Billing Error
Gather receipts and statements.You will need to provide the bank with proof of the error or problem with your account.
- You might want to circle to highlight the error so it is visible. Make a copy of your receipt or statement that contains the error – don't send your original to the bank.
- For minor errors, you might consider simply calling the bank rather than filing a formal letter of dispute. A representative at your bank's customer service line may be able to correct the error instantaneously.
Consider canceling your credit or debit card.If you are disputing an item on your statement that you believe is an unauthorized or fraudulent transaction, you should cancel your card immediately.
- Most banks have a toll-free fraud line that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- If you cancel your debit card within two business days, you will only be liable for up to in fraudulent charges. Some banks have additional protections.
- For credit cards, you are not liable for any unauthorized charges if the theft involved your card number and information and not the physical card itself.
Write a letter to your bank.To use the protections guaranteed by federal law, you must provide your bank with written notice of the error.
- You should always consider calling first to provide initial notice of the error. You also will have the opportunity to ask the bank representative what specific information should be included in your letter.
- If you mail your letter within 10 days of calling, the date you called typically is considered your date of notice – so calling has that additional advantage if you're coming close to that 60-day deadline.
- There are form letters available online that you can copy and adapt to your own situation. For example, the Federal Trade Commission has a letter to dispute billing errors available at .
- Use standard business format for your letter. Most word processing applications have a template you can use so your letter is formatted correctly.
Finalize your letter.Before you print your letter, look it over for any typos or grammatical errors, and double-check the name and address to which it is addressed.
- Once you've completed your letter, sign it using blue or black ink. Don't forget to include copies of any statements or receipts that provide evidence of the error.
- Make a copy of your letter and everything you plan to send with it before you mail it so you have a copy for your own records.
Mail your letter to the correct department.Check your bank's website to find out where you should mail your letter – don't just mail it to a branch.
- Consider sending your letter using certified mail with returned receipt requested, so you know when the bank has received your letter and can calculate the response time.
- Keep in mind that if you don't notify your bank of the error within 60 days, it has no obligation under the law to respond. Typically this means nothing will happen regarding the error.
Wait for a response.The bank must respond to your letter within 30 days to acknowledge receipt.
- After receipt, the bank has two billing cycles – or a maximum of 90 days – to investigate the situation.
- After its investigation, the bank must send you a written report explaining its decision, and either correct the error or explain why the bill is accurate.
Send a follow-up letter.If you aren't happy with the way the bank handled your dispute, you have 10 days to send another letter appealing the decision.
- Mention the bank's response in your follow-up letter, but explain that you still refuse to pay or expect the money to be credited back into your account.
- You also can file a complaint against your bank by visiting the Federal Reserve's website at , or with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at .
Initiating a Chargeback
Compile evidence of your complaint.Since chargebacks typically involve the receipt of faulty or defective merchandise, you typically must provide proof of the transaction amount as well as evidence that the product you received was defective.
- This federal protection only extends to purchases over , and the sale must have taken place in your home state or within 100 miles of your address.
- Some banks and credit card companies may offer chargeback protections for other transactions, such as online sales, beyond those covered by federal law.
Make an effort to resolve the situation with the merchant or vendor.Use the chargeback process as a last resort after the company refuses to issue you a refund.
- Typically you must be able to demonstrate to your bank or credit card company that you made a good faith effort to work with the merchant to solve the problem before you initiated a chargeback.
- Sometimes this option isn't possible. For example, if you ordered a product from a website and the website was later taken down, you may have no way to contact the company from which you bought the product.
- Provided you can, contact the company where you bought the defective product and ask for a refund. Make your request in writing so you have proof of the exchange. Attach any evidence you have regarding your problem with the product.
- Generally, you should begin collecting documentation of the dispute as soon as you have an idea that something is wrong. The more documentation you have, the more likely your bank will be to side with you.
Find out your bank's chargeback policy.Banks may have different policies for handling chargebacks, depending on whether you made your purchase using a debit or credit card.
- Since federal law does not give you the right to withhold payment for defective goods purchased with a debit card, you are at the mercy of your bank's policy regarding whether you can initiate a chargeback if you paid with a debit card.
Call your bank to initiate a chargeback.Typically you can call your bank's main customer service number to begin the chargeback process.
- Follow the prompts to dispute a transaction or talk to a customer service agent, and explain that you want to initiate a chargeback due to a defective product.
- These deadlines are the same as those for billing errors. You must notify the bank within 60 days of the transaction if you want to initiate a chargeback.
Complete any bank forms sent to you.After receiving your request, the bank will send you forms to fill out detailing the transaction and the reason you're requesting a chargeback.
- Typically you must enter details about the transaction, including the date and amount of your purchase, and describe why you want to refuse payment.
- You may have to include receipts, photos, or other evidence to back up your claim.
- You also may have to explain the methods you pursued to resolve the problem with the merchant before attempting a chargeback, or why those methods were unavailable or ineffective.
- Keep your answers brief, and stick to the facts. Make sure you have documentation to back up any statements you make on your claim form.
Wait for the bank's decision.Once the bank hears back from the merchant, it will make a decision either approving or denying your chargeback request.
- Just as with billing errors, the bank has two billing cycles to respond to your claim and either return the funds to your account or explain why your chargeback is being refused.
QuestionHow do I dispute a claim from a bank regarding non-payment of a loan?Andrew SerranoTop AnswererYou have to be able to show proof of whatever you are claiming to have paid. If this is something like a late fee, you would have to show that the payment was made on or before the due date. If this is just non-payment for the entire loan, you would have to show receipts for the payments made.Thanks!
Video: Disputing A Charge
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