Credit cards offer a convenient and generally safe way to pay for goods and services. They have another benefit of which you might not be aware. If a merchant doesn't give you what you pay for, you can file a dispute with your credit card company and claim back the credit card charges for the problem purchase. There are some rules to follow when you're going through the dispute process, but if you do it correctly you will be able to claim back the credit charges and have them refunded to your account.
Document the purchase and the specific problem. For example, did you order an item that never arrived? Print out a copy of your receipt showing the date of the purchase. Did you order a subscription and send a cancellation notice that wasn't honored? Print out a copy of the dated notice.
Make a good-faith effort to resolve the dispute and claim back the credit card charge directly from the merchant. Log any phone calls, or record them if your state's laws allow you to do so. If you send an email to the merchant, send a blind copy to yourself. Keep copies of any letters sent through postal mail, and request a return receipt to prove delivery.
If the merchant refuses to reverse the credit card charge, call your credit card issuer and dispute the charge over the telephone. You will need to speak to a customer service representative to do this. Be prepared to give details of the charge, the problem and your efforts at getting the merchant to reverse the charge.
Send a copy of the dispute to your credit card issuer in writing. Enclose copies of your documentation, including any receipts, proof of the problem, correspondence with the merchant, and other information that shows you made the purchase and tried to resolve the issue directly with the company.
Follow up with your credit card company in 60 days if you don't receive a response. Normally your credit card company will immediately credit your account for the disputed amount while it investigates the matter. If the dispute is resolved in your favor, the charge will be claimed back to your account permanently.
Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you only have a legal right to file a dispute for a credit card charge over $50, and the purchase must have been made within 100 miles of your billing address. However, most credit card companies will not hold you to these requirements. They will usually let you file a dispute to claim back any credit card charges whenever there is a problem, regardless of the cost or place of purchase.
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