People rarely carry cash anymore; instead, people typically go cashless and utilize their credit cards. Due to the number of people using credit cards, your credit card information could fall into the wrong hands. Most people will have to deal with a questionable charge on their credit statement at least once.
At times, disputing unexpected charges with your credit card company may be necessary, especially when dealing with large charge amounts. The good news is the issuer of your card will likely side with you compared to the merchants whose charges you are disputing.
The Fair Credit Billing Act
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), which went into effect in 1975, allows you to dispute suspicious charges on your credit card. However, your credit card provider will force merchants to prove that the disputed amount was not a mistake when fighting charges. Thus, the merchant bears the burden of proof instead of you.
Forcing the burden of proof onto the merchant is generally a benefit for you but detrimental to many merchants. After all, there are plenty of unscrupulous consumers willing to dispute legitimate charges as a way to "purchase" items for free. Moreover, if you were to participate in such actions, your card issuer could potentially start suspecting you for suspicious behavior and flag your account.
Disputing a Charge
To win a credit card dispute, you need to follow a few simple rules:
- When noticing a strange charge from a merchant, do not contact the merchant.
The FCBA allows you to resolve disputes directly with your credit card provider, which is typically the simplest way to a resolution. By law, credit card companies must conduct a reasonable investigation of your claims within two months. In addition, they must also send you a letter notifying you of their decision once the investigation ends. If they resolve the dispute in your favor, you won't have to pay anything for the disputed charge.
- The FCBA only applies to purchases that exceed $50 and also be 100 miles within the vicinity of one of your billing addresses.
However, don't let this stop you from disputing more minor charges. Most credit card companies will take on disputes even if the complaints do not meet the stricter requirements of the law. Credit card companies, after all, want to keep their customers happy, and addressing their billing disputes is one way to do it.
- You need to be aware of the charges made on your card.
Typically it is best to study your credit card bill carefully each month so that you can uncover any suspicious charges. And if you find an unknown charge, remember to dispute it with your credit card company.