Since the 1970s, when the first credit cards were introduced, carriers have been wary of making sure their money stayed safe. As laws protecting consumers were put into place, and banks and stores stepped up their fraud prevention tactics, trust and reliance on credit and debit cards have become the norm. Consumers are more likely to carry a wallet full of different account cards than they are to carry cash. But with more people using this method, there is the possibility that a charge will be disputed and sent back to the merchant. This happens for many different reasons, including fraud, shipping disputes, broken merchandise, goods not received, cancellations, or authorization and processing errors. So, what steps should be taken by a consumer who needs to dispute a charge?
Do the Homework
The first step in disputing a charge is to gather receipts, item numbers, shipping information, credit card information, and dates of purchase. Once a person has this information, they can keep it together and build on it during the dispute if needed. Throughout the process of disputing a charge, anyone who is spoken to, any steps that are taken, or any decisions made should be written down and kept together to track the progress of the claim. This will not only help when answering questions about the claim but making sure that things are being done as promised and what progress has been made.
Once all the information is gathered, it is a good idea to speak with the store or merchant the original charge was with. If it was for an item that was damaged, lost in shipping, or defective, often a store will issue a refund or offer an exchange. This is the easiest way to clear up a dispute and one most customers turn to first. If more action is needed and the dispute continues to the credit card company, a customer should verify all the information from the merchant to ensure they have everything they may need when speaking with their card company.
Do the Paperwork
Though many disputes can be resolved with a merchant, sometimes, like in fraud cases, the credit card company must be contacted and a formal dispute filed and a chargeback requested. What is a chargeback? This is the process where the credit card company will rescind the payment from the retailer and credit it back to the customer’s account. Sometimes this can happen quickly, depending on the amount of the charge and the reason the refund has been requested. Other cases require that the funds be held in dispute until a determination is made of whether the request is valid or if fraud was involved. It is important that customers act quickly due to a 60-day deadline from the date of the billing statement to file the dispute with the company.
Most of the time, disputes are handled through email or phone conversation, but it is also wise to send a letter to the credit card company to ensure there is no reason for the request to be denied. Most companies have a specific address for their billing disputes to be sent. This is usually found on its website, but can also be acquired through a call to customer service.
Don’t Stop Paying
It may be tempting for a customer to cease payment on their credit card while charges are being disputed. This will only negatively affect them though because it will appear as nonpayment on their credit report. If payments are regularly made and the charges are later reversed, this will leave the customer with a positive balance on the account which can be paid back to the customer by the company.
There are simple steps to follow when a customer disputes a fraudulent charge. Making sure they are followed will make it easier to get through the process and get the funds returned quickly.