Love’m my credit cards. I get points, mileage and one place to view all my spending. Who doesn’t love that!
But I hate having to go through the misery of disputing charges. In my own research, I’ve determined four types of credit card disputes to look out for.
Unauthorized use: Basically, this is fraud—unauthorized use of your card when someone steals the card, skims the card, copies the number, hacks the number or double charges on purpose. Under federal law, you are responsible for up to $50 as long as you refute charges within 60 days with your credit card company. If it happens to you: Contact your credit card company ASAP and begin the resolution process. BillGuard can also help you open a dispute, at no cost to you. Just click the red button on your BillGuard Scan Report.
Disputes on dollar amounts: Mistakes happen. But I often find they don’t happen in my favor. They seem to always happen in the merchant’s favor. Funny how it works out like that, huh?
You might be billed incorrectly for products or services you didn’t purchase, charged for products you ordered but didn’t get, or be overcharged. (For the record, I don’t think I’ve ever been “undercharged.”). If it happens to you: Contact the merchant ASAP and go through the merchant’s process for resolution. Don’t want to deal with the hassle? BillGuard will handle the dispute for you, for free.
Problems with products or services: Sometimes it’s a quality issue: products break within 30 days, are delivered broken, or the merchant fails to provide services requested. If it happens to you: Contact the merchant ASAP. If the merchant is uncooperative, contact BillGuard.
Grey charges:Grey charges are often charges that, in a roundabout way (that is, in the fine print), we agreed to by purchasing products or services. A grey charge may include mysterious subscriptions, automatic renewals, free products that result in paid products or cost creep. The initial purchase may be pennies, but over time ends up costing big dollars. If it happens to you: Flag the charge on your BillGuard Scan Report. We’ll help you open a dispute.
Here’s how to reduce your aggravation when it comes to credit card disputes:
- Always reconcile your bills diligently and on a timely basis.
- Refute unauthorized charges immediately—within one to two billing cycles.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card, as credit cards offer more consumer protection.
- Be patient—and be nice—when talking to customer support. Don’t yell like you’re some crazy Italian. (Disclosure: I am that crazy Italian.) Trust me. It usually doesn’t work.
- Use BillGuard to watch your back and help you resolve unwanted charges.
Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert & advisor to BillGuard and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.