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Disputing charges to your credit card: FAQs

By ATB Financial 30 June 2020 5 min read

We use credit cards all the time—when shopping online, using a digital wallet or tapping to complete a purchase. Usually, credit cards are a simple and secure method of making purchases and deposits. But once in a while, you may notice a transaction on your statement that just seems wrong. Maybe the amount you’ve been charged doesn’t match your sales receipt. Maybe the merchant is unfamiliar to you. Or maybe you didn’t make the transaction at all.

How do you protect your credit identity and make sure you’re not being overcharged? Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about credit disputes, chargebacks and credit card fraud.

What is a credit dispute?

A credit dispute is initiated when a credit card holder makes a formal complaint to their financial institution about a transaction on their account that they believe is incorrect. Verified credit disputes are resolved through chargebacks.

What is a chargeback?

A chargeback is a cleared credit card transaction that has been reversed—for instance, when a customer has disputed a charge and the financial institution has verified the dispute and returned the funds back to the credit card account.

What is a fraud chargeback?

A fraud chargeback is a reversal of a charge (a cleared credit card transaction) that the financial institution has determined to be fraudulent.

What should I do if I see an incorrect or unfamiliar charge on my credit card statement or activity log online?

First, try to determine whether there has been a simple mistake in the amount you’ve been charged for a purchase you made. If the transaction seems unfamiliar, that could be an indication the transaction is fraudulent.

If it looks like a simple mistake, your best bet is to try contacting the merchant first. If you’ve been overcharged, they’ll likely be able to check the charge against their sales records and/or your receipt and may issue you a refund. However, if you’re unable to get in touch with the merchant, if they refuse to resolve the discrepancy, or if you haven’t received a refund within a reasonable amount of time (usually between 15 and 30 days, starting the day you contacted the merchant), you can begin the process of formally disputing the charge with your financial institution.

If you suspect the transaction is fraudulent (made by someone else without your authorization), immediately call the financial institution that issued the credit card. At ATB, we’ll freeze your card so that no further fraudulent transactions can be made, and also start an investigation process that may result in a fraud chargeback to your account if fraud is confirmed.

Regardless of whether or not you suspect the transaction in question is fraudulent, keep in mind that if you have an ATB Mastercard®, you only have 90 days from the posted date of the transaction to dispute or report it.

What kinds of transactions should be disputed and/or reported?

Any situation in which you’ve been charged wrongfully is valid cause for dispute. Examples of a wrongful charge include:

  • Being charged an incorrect amount
  • Multiple charges for one product
  • A charge for a product or service you did not receive
  • A refund you did not receive after returning a product

Any situation in which you suspect someone else is using your card without your authorization is valid cause for a report and subsequent investigation.

Some cases in which you’ll likely not be eligible for a chargeback include:

  • No-show fees on reservations made using your credit card
  • Situations (such as a travel ban) where you’re unable to take advantage of a service you’ve already booked or paid for
  • Out-of-pocket expenses incurred after a merchant cancelled services you were utilizing
  • A completed transaction you authorized but can no longer afford

What information do I need to gather before disputing a charge or reporting a possible fraudulent transaction?

If you have access to this information, collect and retain it until the dispute/report has been resolved:

  • A screenshot of the order page from the portal or site from which the purchase was made
  • Date and amount of transaction
  • Name of merchant
  • Name or description of the product/service
  • Photos of the product (if applicable)
  • Customer payment details (receipt, email from store, transaction on your account activity, account statement, etc.)
  • Communication with the merchant (emails, texts, etc.)
  • The merchant’s return policy (if applicable)
  • Any terms and conditions that apply to the transaction
  • Tracking number for shipments (if applicable)
  • A short written summary of what happened (for instance, “I purchased a couch and got a table instead” or “I haven't been to this gym in years but there is a recent charge of $100 admin fee from the gym charged to my account.")
  • An expert or professional opinion to support your dispute if it regards the quality of the goods. It should be on the expert’s letterhead and should state in their opinion the quality of the goods or service. In this case, an expert would be someone like a mechanic, home inspector, or licensed vet.
  • Any relevant news articles on merchant insolvency or bankruptcy claims

How do I dispute a charge on my credit card?

Collect all the relevant information from the list above that you have access to. If you have a Mastercard® with ATB, please call our ATB Client Care Centre at 1-800-332-8383 and say you have a credit dispute or possible credit card fraud to report. If you’re not an ATB customer, please refer to your financial institution for next steps.

How long does it take to resolve a credit dispute or fraud report?

That depends. At ATB, once you’ve registered a credit dispute, the merchant has 45 days to respond with documentation that validates the charge to your account. If the merchant does not respond within 45 days, a chargeback will be completed in your favour. If the merchant responds with documentation and disputes the chargeback, resolving the case may take longer.

If you’ve reported a possible credit card fraud, you may receive a fraud chargeback, if applicable, after the investigation is completed.

Have more questions, or want to talk to a real person about an issue with your ATB Mastercard® that’s confusing you? Call your advisor or the ATB Client Care Centre at 1-800-332-8383. They’ll be happy to walk you through the details of your individual situation.

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