How to dispute credit card charges with your own personal armyA while back, I decided to cancel my mobile plan with a certain nameless cell phone company. When I canceled though, they told me my account had a $160 charge. “For what?” I asked. Wait for it… “An early cancellation fee.” An exclusive GIF of my reaction:
Dispute credit card charges step 1: Dispute the charge at the sourceHonestly, this step is optional because you can get your money back without having to interact with the merchant. However, in the spirit of giving you all of your options, I want to show you how you can get your money back from the source. After all, you might have a relationship with the merchant and you don’t want to ruin it due to an error on their part. Plus, if the erroneous charge is due to something like merchant or mathematical error, most businesses would be happy to rectify it for you to keep you as a customer. (I say most because there are the exceptions to this, as evidenced by my awful experience with my former cell phone provider.) According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you have “60 days after the first bill with the error was mailed to you” to notify your credit card company of the charge. So if you want to see if you can straighten out the issue with the merchant, you need to contact them AS SOON AS POSSIBLE when you see the charge on your statement. Here’s an email script you can use to bring up the charges with them:
SUBJ: Erroneous charge on statement
I went over my credit card statement today and discovered that I have been charged an extra month for my gym membership.
Could you refund my money back as soon as possible? If not, I’ll be disputing these charges with my credit card company.
I look forward to this situation being fixed.
RamitNotice something about this email? It leverages your credit card company as a threat. Businesses HATE fighting credit card companies in disputes. So you’ll often be able to get your money back based on that alone. Note: The FTC also provides a handy sample email you can use to file a complaint with your merchant. No matter which you choose, I suggest you include the threat of disputing with your credit card company into the message. After you’ve sent the email, expect the merchant to get back to you soon. If they haven’t contacted and given you a full refund within a week of sending the email, move on to the next step. It’s not worth waiting for them if they’re going to treat you like that. After all, disputing with the merchant isn’t always going to work — especially in cases where:
- There is credit card fraud.
- The merchant isn’t responding to you.
- You’re dealing with a low-class, no-good, scammy cell phone company that wants to renege on an agreement you already had YEARS before—
Dispute credit card charges step 2: Gather all relevant information to dispute the credit card chargeAside from your credit card company, your most powerful ally in the fight against the merchant is information. So before you even think of calling your credit card company, gather any and all information you might have that is related to the charge you want to dispute. This includes things like:
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Phone calls
|Call date||Time||Name of rep||Rep’s ID #||Comments|
Dispute credit card charges step 3: Contact your credit card companyNow it’s time to get down to brass tacks and call your credit card company. Here is a list of phone numbers from the major credit card issuers you can use to dispute the charge:
- Visa: 1-800-847-2911
- American Express: 1-800-528-4800
- MasterCard: 1-800-307-7309
- Discover: 1-801-902-3100
- Capital One: 1-800-227-4825
- Chase: 1-800-432-3117
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute a billing error in the amount of [ $______] on my account. The amount is inaccurate because [describe the problem]. I am requesting that the error be corrected, that any finance and other charges related to the disputed amount be credited as well, and that I receive an accurate statement.
Enclosed are copies of [use this sentence to describe any information you are enclosing, like sales slips or payment records] supporting my position. Please investigate this matter and correct the billing error as soon as possible.
[Your name]REMEMBER: You need to do this within 60 days of the charge appearing on your bill. Once they receive the complaint, they’re legally required to respond to you within 30 days. The process will be roughly the same as when you talk to them on the phone — they’ll open up an investigation, issue you temporary credit, and either facilitate a chargeback or deny your complaint. If your card was stolen or you find evidence of fraud on your card statement, your credit card company will cancel your credit card and issue you a new one as well as credit for any fraudulent charges. No matter what happens…congrats! You now know how to dispute your credit card charges.
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