Navigation Menu

How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge

It can be very concerning if you find you've been charged for a product or service that you didn't authorize. What should you do?

Quick answers:

  • Fraudulent charges: Call your credit card company and ask them to remove the charges and request a new card to ensure your security.
  • Billing errors: Contact the seller or service provider first and try to resolve the credit card bill issue. If that doesn’t work, call your credit card company to dispute the charge.
  • Bad service or services not rendered: Talk to the seller first to request a refund or a replacement. If that doesn’t work, call your credit card company to dispute the charge.

It’s best to alert your credit card issuer to fraudulent transactions or activity immediately.

Types of credit card charges you can dispute

There are several types of charges you have the right to dispute. Depending on how you made your purchase, the seller, and your card issuer, there may be slightly different processes in place for each type of dispute. In general, you can dispute:

  • Purchases made by someone with unauthorized access to your credit card
  • Being billed twice for the same item or service
  • Being charged the wrong amount for an item or service
  • Failure to credit a returned item
  • Items that are either not delivered or delivered to the wrong address
  • Items damaged during shipping
  • Services that weren’t provided as first specified

How to dispute different types of credit card charges

As we mentioned earlier, there are three main types of disputes you can make: fraudulent charges, billing errors, and bad service/service not rendered. There are a few differences in how you might deal with each type of dispute.

Steps for filing a dispute for a fraudulent charge

  1. Make sure the charge really was fraudulent: check with family members who might have made a purchase without your permission, or due to a misunderstanding. One rule of thumb about disputing credit card charges is that you should be willing to file a police report about the issue. If not, try to resolve it with the parties involved.
  2. Contact your credit card issuer and let them know there’s a problem. By law, you can only be held liable for up to $50 in fraudulent charges, though it’s unlikely you’d be charged even that much if the investigation into your dispute ruled that credit card fraud occurred.
  3. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) recommends you file a police report, but this is an optional step. It helps police and government offices track credit card-related crimes.

Steps for disputing a billing error

  1. Contact your creditor. While an investigation is under way, you won’t be required to pay the charge in question, but you’ll have to pay the rest of your balance. The creditor is legally required to respond in writing within 30 days.
  2. Your card issuer has to resolve any disputes within 2 billing cycles, but (but in no event later than 90 days) after receiving a billing error notice. If you disagree with their final decision, you have 10 days to appeal. At this point, though, your creditor can start the collections process.
  3. If your creditor chooses to report the incident to the credit bureaus, they have to include a note saying you don’t agree with the charge.

Steps for disputing bad services or a service not rendered

  1. Before you officially report your issue, try to work out your dispute with the seller. See if they’re willing to refund your money or give you some type of credit.
  2. Save all the documents that prove you tried to resolve the issue with the seller (for example, an email exchange or noting the date, time, and name of a representative you spoke with).
  3. It’s important that you don’t pay for the disputed service. Call your credit card issuer and let them know immediately that you’re trying to resolve an issue with the seller.
  4. If you can’t work it out with the seller, file a report on your disputed purchase within 60 days of the statement date.

You can always call your specific creditor to make sure you understand the process for your card and the type of charge you’re disputing.

The Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974 protects your right to dispute transactions through a process called Claims and Defenses. This is why it’s important to document your communication with the seller throughout the dispute process and attempt to resolve the problem.

While your dispute is being processed, your credit card issuer may lower your credit limit by the contested amount. For example, if your credit limit is $5,000 and you’re disputing a charge of $300, your credit limit may temporarily be reduced to $4,700.

You’ve filed a dispute with your issuer. Now what?

After you’ve officially disputed a charge, your credit card company has one month to acknowledge your dispute and then another two months to investigate (according to the Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974). When the investigation has been finalized, the company must notify you in writing of its decision. If they choose to deny your dispute and keep the charge on your balance, you have 10 days to respond.

If you file a dispute and don’t get any response, it can be helpful to file claims with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or the Federal Trade Commission.

Contact a financial professional

Credit card disputes are a very common issue, and Santander makes it easy to get help understanding the claim process. We’re always available to talk to clients about potential credit problems, and we take fraudulent credit card activity very seriously.

For Santander customers, if there is an unauthorized transaction on your account, please contact us immediately at 1-888-728-1222.