In a Nilson report from 2013, fraud in the credit and debit card industry was responsible for more than $11.2 billion lost during 2012. Even worse, as of late we’ve seen major breaches in security with large-scale retailers such as Home Depot and Target. The hackers that get into these databases then steal thousands of people’s credit card information all at once. Those numbers then are often sold for around $120 each, according to the founder of the Identity Theft Council, a non-profit group.
Most of the loss from these breaches was felt by the industries involved in 2012, but we the individual cardholders still had to deal with the worry and anxiety of wondering if we would come out of the crisis with our identities still untouched.
This may cause you great fear as well, and understandably so. Who doesn’t pay for most things on a day-to-day basis with some form of plastic? Thankfully, if your card is compromised, you are not liable for most of those charges if you can dispute them right away. But do you know how to dispute credit card charges?
How To Deal With Fraudulent Charges On Your Debit Card
There are reasons to think that using your debit card as opposed to a credit card is better for you financially, but they actually do not have as much protection in place as compared to your credit card.
Here’s your liability when reporting unauthorized activity on your debit card, according to the Federal Trade Commission:
- $0 if you report it before any fraudulent activity.
- $50 if you report it within two business days.
- $500 if you report it after two-business day but before 60 calendar days after your statement has been sent to you.
- Unlimited if you do not report the loss or theft within 60 calendar days of your statement being sent to you.
This is a frightening piece of information if you are one who only checks your bank account once in a while, only when your statement arrives, or perhaps not even then. You could end up being liable for quite a bit. Once those 60 days go by and you haven’t noticed any of the fraudulent charges, it could be the complete nightmare; your bank account could be completely drained and you’re stuck with nothing to protect you against your loss.
So what should we learn regarding how to dispute credit card charges? Well, in the case of debit cards (even if you are running them through as credit), watch your account like a hawk. As soon as anything fishy pops up, this is what you should immediately do:
- Call your bank or whoever issued your debit card.
- Send a certified letter even though you already contacted them.
- Write down everything you did, when you did it, and who you talked to when you called the bank.
- Keep at it until the fraudulent charges are settled.
How To Dispute Credit Card Charges
Take the same steps outlined above when dealing with loss or theft on your credit card. Make sure you stay on top of it as soon as it happens, call, write that letter, and record everything you did and who you spoke to. On the up side, your liability only goes up to $50 for fraudulent activity on your stolen card. If only your credit card number was compromised and you still have the card itself, you aren’t liable for anything. Most of the time, the company will just cancel your account and give you a new card with a different number.
How To Prevent The Theft Of Your Debit Or Credit Card
Of course, no one wants to deal with this theft in the first place. Then there will be no need to utilize your new knowledge of how to dispute credit card charges. The Federal Trade Commission has several suggestions to help you avoid these fraudulent charges, or to discover them as soon as you can, thereby limiting your liability.
- Never give anyone your account number, unless you were the one calling them.
- Never keep your account information where someone else can get it.
- Have all your account information and the numbers to call in one safe place.
- Always know where your card is during any transaction. Have them keep it where you can see it.
- Destroy your old cards and account numbers.
- Never put your signature on a blank receipt.
- Always go over your monthly statement to check for anything out of the ordinary. If there is online access, try to check every couple of days or so.
- Never write down your PIN where anyone else can see it or have access to it.
How To Dispute Credit Card Charges Of Other Types
There are other kinds of charges on your card that you can dispute besides the obviously fraudulent ones. These are called billing errors and can be any of the following:
- Charges with an incorrect date or amount
- Charges for things that were never delivered as had been agreed upon or that you did not receive
- Charges that you never got because your creditor did not mail the bill to the correct address
- Returns you made that did not appear on your account
If you are going to dispute credit card charges of this nature, write a letter to your creditor (you will find an address on your statement or online for correspondence regarding billing errors), send it certified mail, and make sure to make a copy for yourself. Make sure the letter includes your accounts numbers and any information you can provide about the charges you are disputing. They must respond within 30 days according to law, and meanwhile you can wait on paying that charge, by law, until it is settled.
When you need to dispute credit card charges or debit card ones, it can be a huge headache. But following the steps we’ve outlined above and taking care of it as soon as it occurs can help you to bounce back quickly. The best step to take is to always be aware of what is going on in all your accounts at all times, so best to avail yourself of all protections available.