Can I Dispute a Charge on My Bank Statement?

Let’s assume that you make a purchase online. You put the goods in your cart, enter your shipping and billing information, hit checkout, get your confirmation email…everything seems good. But then, weeks—and eventually months—go by, and the goods you ordered never arrived.

You try to contact the seller, but never get a response. It looks like they took your money and vanished without a trace. That doesn’t mean you simply have to eat the cost of the transaction, though.

Valid Reasons to Dispute a Charge

The chargeback process offers a way for you to dispute the charge and claw back your money from the seller who scammed you. You’d be justified in disputing a charge on your bank statement in any situation in which fraud took place, or if the merchant took advantage of you by promising more than what they delivered.

You can do this by contacting the bank that issued your credit or debit card. If you explain the situation, they will be able to determine whether a chargeback is the best course of action.

Some common scenarios in which you’d be allowed to file a chargeback include:

  • The seller failed to ship a product or provide service after accepting a payment.
  • The seller promised an authentic product, but delivered a knock-off or facsimile.
  • The seller applied a larger tip to a bill than what you signed for on the receipt.
  • A fraudster used your stolen card information to complete an unauthorized purchase.
  • A fraudster compromised your account with linked payment information.
  • You have some issue with your order, and the seller is not responsive.

It’s important to remember, though: you are required to try working out the dispute with the merchant before contacting the bank. If you can resolve a dispute with the seller, that will be a much faster and easier option for both parties.

Invalid Reasons to Dispute a Charge

The dispute process works well…too well, as a matter of fact. We’re now seeing a wave of cardholders disputing valid charges without performing due diligence to ensure that they’re entitled to a chargeback first.

This obviously has negative consequences for the seller. They lose sales revenue and merchandise, and also get slammed with other punishing fees that can really hurt the business’s bottom line. However, it could also have negative consequences for you, too.

If your bank notices that you file for chargebacks often, they might come to the conclusion that you’re abusing the process. If that happens, you may be barred from disputing charges when actual fraud occurs. They may even close your account, which could negatively impact your credit score.

It’s important to make sure you’re in the right before you call up the bank to dispute a charge. Here are some scenarios when a chargeback would be inappropriate:

  • You spent more than you intended, and are now experiencing “buyer’s remorse.”
  • Your spouse, or another family member, used your card to complete a transaction.
  • You authorized a purchase, but might have forgotten it.
  • You authorized a purchase, but don’t recognize the seller’s billing descriptor.
  • The charge appears on your statement once the goods ship, rather than at the time of order.
  • You have an issue with your order, but haven’t yet contacted the seller to resolve it.

These are all simple, commonplace mistakes. However, you need to be aware of them, and know what steps to take before you call the bank.

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