How To Dispute A Credit Card Charge

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Were you billed twice for a single purchase? Did you not receive a refund for an item you returned? 

Are you certain that you made a payment towards your credit card yet your credit card issuer didn’t credit the payment to your account? Wondering how to dispute a credit card charge as a result?

If you discover a credit card charge that you did not authorize, whether that be from a company you recognize or an unrecognized vendor, you’re not without recourse. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) is designed to protect consumers from all types of unauthorized charges on open-ended credit accounts, like credit cards. 

This law, which was enacted in 1974, outlines your rights when it comes to disputing credit card charges. Here’s what you need to know about disputing a credit card charge.

Reasons to dispute credit card charges

There are many reasons to dispute a charge. From fraud and billing mistakes to items you purchased but never received, the need to dispute credit card charges can stem from a wide array of scenarios. 

Fortunately, you will be protected in all cases that necessitate a dispute. Here’s what you need to know about the law and how to react when you find yourself in this type of situation. 


Fraud occurs when your credit card number is compromised, whether that is as the result of a data breach at a company that was storing your information or if someone illegally obtains your credit card number. The latter possibility can happen if someone hacks you or physically steals your credit card. 

The FCBA settlement procedures only apply to billing errors. However, this also happens to include unauthorized charges, which can cover fraud as well. According to the law, your responsibility for unauthorized charges is limited to $50.

If you lose your credit card or notice any new charges that you didn’t authorize, contact your credit card issuer immediately. You can dispute the credit card charge, and they will immediately issue you a new card with a different number. 

Billing mistakes

Billing mistakes can happen to anyone. A company can accidentally charge your account twice, the credit card issuer can fail to credit a payment or there can even be math-related errors. 

Under FCBA rules, billing mistakes can include the following:

  • Charges listed for the wrong date or amount
  • Failure to post credits or other payments, like returns
  • Failure to send bills to your current address 
  • Charges you requested an explanation or written proof of purchase for
  • Math errors

All of these could be reasons to dispute a charge. Since mistakes are possible, it’s worth it to carefully check your credit card bill. Check that all charges were authorized for the correct date and amount, that you received all credits you were owed and that the total value is correct. 

Poor quality products or services

If merchants provide bad service or low-quality products, you may be entitled to get your money back. You should contact the merchant first and request a refund. In the event that the merchant is unable to offer you a refund, you may be able to dispute the credit card charge with the card issuer. 

If you purchased an item that was sold under the guise of no returns or refunds, it can be more difficult to dispute credit card charges. In that case, you can usually only dispute the charge if the item is damaged or defective. 

If you have problems with the quality of goods or the services you receive, you might be protected under state law. If so, you could likely take legal action against the seller if necessary. However, these laws only apply to purchases that were made in your home state or within 100 miles of your billing address. 

The purchases must be for items that totaled to more than $50 as well. You also must have made a good-faith effort to resolve the dispute about the credit card charge with the seller. 

How to dispute fraudulent credit card charges

Disputing a charge only requires you to follow a few steps, but you’ll want to be thorough every step of the way. Start by certifying the credit card fraudulent charges. Be sure to keep records of all communication as well. Here are the steps you should follow from there. 

Verify the charge

The first step in disputing bank charges is to make sure the charges actually classify as fraud. Check that the charges were not made by a family member or an authorized user. 

Sometimes, merchants will change the name that appears on your credit card bill, so you’ll want to double-check that it wasn’t an authorized purchase documented under a different name. Once you’re sure that you and all authorized users or family members didn’t make the credit card fraudulent charges, it’s time to contact the credit card company. 

Contact your credit card company

When you want to contact your credit card company to discuss instances of fraud, you can call the phone number on the back of the card assuming you haven’t lost your card. Explain all of your reasons to dispute a charge.

Make sure you report the fraud immediately to prevent additional unauthorized charges from taking place. When you speak with the card issuer, ask them to cancel your credit card and replace it with a new one. 

This does not mean that your account will be canceled. Rather, it simply means you’ll get a new card with a new number in the mail as early as the next day, but that card will still be associated with the same account. 

Track communications in writing

Keep track of all communication you engage in with the credit card company. At the end of the call, ask them to send you an email or a letter that confirms the cancellation as well as the issuing of a new card. 

They will usually note your reasons to dispute a charge. They should also email you or mail you some form of confirmation of the dispute in process regarding all relevant charges. 

In many cases, they will immediately issue a conditional credit to your account while resolving the credit card fraudulent charges. 

File a police report

Many cities will allow you to file a police report online if your credit card has been physically stolen. Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles are two examples of cities that have online reporting systems. If your city doesn’t offer online reporting, you can call your local police department and request to report a crime.

For credit card fraud involving cyber crimes or data breaches, you can file the police report directly with the FBI through the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Two other reporting options include your local FBI field office or the online FBI tips website

How to report billing errors on credit cards

You can report credit card billing errors if you find any missing or incorrect information regarding charges, amounts, dates, or totals as part of your credit card bill. Many credit card issuers will let you dispute a charge online regarding your current or past credit card statements. 

They will ask you several questions, including whether or not you authorized the charge. You can also call your credit card issuer at the number listed on the back of your credit card if you need to report a billing error. 

For mistakes, math errors or missing credits, you’ll usually need to call the credit card issuer to address the issues. From there, you will either follow prompts presented to you or ask to speak to an operator to whom you can explain the situation. 

How to dispute poor quality products or services

To dispute poor quality products or services, you should first contact the merchant and seek to establish a reasonable resolution. If explaining the situation and requesting a refund doesn’t yield the results you are after, the Federal Trade Commission advises consumers to write a letter that includes relevant documents. 

You can also explore the following ideas:

  • Contact the Better Business Bureau.
  • Message national consumer organizations.
  • Reach out to the state secretary general.

If the company agrees to a refund and it doesn’t appear on your card statement within the expected timeframe, you can dispute a charge by calling your credit card company or submitting documentation online. 

How long do credit card disputes take?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the card issuer must send you a letter noting that they have received the dispute of credit card charge within 30 days of you submitting your request. They will also note the reasons for disputing a charge.

After that, they have two complete billing cycles to complete their investigation, which is usually a period of approximately two months. Legally, they cannot take more than 90 days to finalize the resolution of a credit card dispute. 

Chase Bank echoes this advice, stating that resolving a credit card dispute depends on the credit card and the merchant, but it may take up to 60 days.

Can the bank deny a dispute?

Simply put, if the consumer does not have a clear or compelling case, the bank may deny a dispute. As such, you’ll want to be clear when you explain your reasons to dispute a charge.  

If the bank denies a disputed credit card charge, you are legally entitled to an explanation of why the dispute was denied. You’ll receive this in writing, which will usually arrive in the mail or via email. Consumers can choose to appeal the decision if they want to as well. 

Final thoughts on how to dispute a credit card charge

Disputing credit card charges can be a hassle, but most banks will go out of their way to make the process simple. With the Fair Credit Billing Act, which was designed to protect consumers, the law is on your side. 

The first step to catching credit card fraud charges or disputing a charge is to be alert. Remember to check your credit card statement regularly and ask about any charges you don’t recognize. 

The steps above will help you figure out any situation, from billing mistakes to fraud. Keep in mind that it never hurts to ask, so if you are in doubt as to the legitimacy of a charge on your credit card, reach out to ensure that the questionable charge is yours.

How often do merchants win chargeback disputes?

The frequency at which merchants win chargeback disputes will depend on the industry, the particular business and the specifics of the situation.

Who pays when you dispute a charge?

When you dispute a charge, you will not have to pay the disputed charge until the investigation is complete. However, you must pay other charges on your credit card. If the dispute is settled in your favor, the merchant will pay the disputed charge.

What happens if a credit dispute is denied?

If your dispute of a credit card charge is denied, you have the right to add a statement to your credit file. This statement will be included or summarized in future credit reports. You also have the option to bring a lawsuit if the credit reporting company violates the FCRA.

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