Laws Regulate Disputing a Credit Card Charge

Consumers have various reasons for disputing a charge on their credit cards. For some, the charge is one they don’t recognize or a charge they did not authorize. You may receive a defective item or be upset with the quality of a purchase.

The law provides consumers with credit remedies but there are responsibilities for the consumer as well. If you are dissatisfied wit the service or product purchased from a merchant, you are obligated to contact the merchant in an attempt to resolve the problem.

If your attempts to receive a refund are unsuccessful, you may pursue the issue with your credit card provider.

Major Credit Lenders Offer Protections

Most major credit lenders offer certain protections to consumers that are meant to avoid legal disputes over charges and purchase. To this end, lenders often advertise they guarantee purchases from theft or defect for a specific amount of time.

The ads sound good and this is a system meant to protect the consumer. However, there are rules to follow and limitations that consumer must read for each credit lender.

If you were charged for a purchase you did not make it may take nothing more than a phone call or email to your lender to resolve the problem. You may need to answer a few questions or the charge may simply be removed as an error.

If you were charged an amount higher than your purchase receipt, providing the receipt may be sufficient proof to correct the problem. In many cases, this is another simple error and an easy problem to solve.

Particular Merchant

If your problem is not an error on your credit card bill but a dispute involving a purchase from a particular merchant, there are steps to follow to resolve the issue.

Give the merchant a chance to right the problem by explaining it to them. Be courteous and detailed with the customer service representative. If you are not satisfied with their solution, ask to speak to a supervisor.

Have your records available so you can give exact transactions detail. Keep a record of who you spoke with and the time/date of the call.

If you cannot resolve the problem by phone, send a letter outlining your complaint and requesting a resolution. Keep a copy for yourself as you may need proof later that you pursued every available path in an attempt to correct the problem with the merchant.

Send a letter to the credit card company with a copy of your letter to the merchant. The law (Fair Credit Billing Act) requires putting your complaint in writing. This must be done within 60 days following the disputed charge.

In the letter to your lender remember to include your account number and the date of the bill that included the charge on your account. Give details of the purchase under dispute and explain you are not paying that amount until the dispute is resolved.

Keep accurate records of your attempts to resolve the problem with the seller. This information will be valuable if you must turn to your credit lender for help in finding a resolution or removing that charge from your bill.

Charge Back – The Last Resort

The purpose of a “charge back” is to reverse a charge placed on your credit card account. Your credit lender is the only entity that can issue a charge back.

If you are granted a charge back, your credit card company removes the disputed purchase from your bill and the lender then goes back to the merchant to recoup the money. Once you have received a charge back, you don’t have to worry about the problem any longer.


If you are disputing a charge you may need only to contact your lender if the charge is in error. If the problem is a dispute with a merchant caused by inferior products or items ordered but not received, your first attempt to resolve the issue is to contact the merchant directly.

For problems that cannot be easily solved, the law provides you the option of a charge back. Credit card companies have a form to fill out for those requesting a charge back. Once the form is filed, the lender takes on the task of resolving the problem.

A charge back is not guaranteed and requests for multiple charge backs can damage your credit card account. However, in the case of a merchant who is not responsive a charge back is a useful tool for consumers.

Make sure to check out our section on how to apply for a credit card when bad credit follow you from the past