Refunds, Errors, Disputes, and Unauthorized Charges

Here are a few interesting points about credit card refunds from the FTC:


If you have a credit balance on your account, you can keep it or write your issuer for a refund if the amount is more than one dollar. Your card issuer must send you a refund within seven business days of getting your request. If you don’t ask for a refund and you don’t make any other purchases for more than six months, the issuer must make a good faith effort to send you a refund.


Card issuers must follow rules for correcting billing errors promptly. They must send you a statement outlining these rules when you open an account, and then, at least once a year while your account is open. In fact, many creditors routinely include a summary of your rights with your billing statements.

If you find a mistake on your bill, you can dispute the charge and withhold payment of that amount while the charge is being investigated. The error might be a charge for the wrong amount, for something you didn’t accept, or for an item that wasn’t delivered as agreed. You still have to pay any part of the bill that’s not in dispute, including finance and other charges not related to the disputed amount.

To dispute a charge:

  • Write to the issuer at the address indicated on your statement for “billing inquiries.” Include your name, address, account number, and a description of the error.

  • Send your letter as soon as possible. It must reach the issuer within 60 days after the issuer mailed you the first bill with the error.

  • The issuer must acknowledge your complaint in writing within 30 days of getting it, unless they’ve resolved the problem. The issuer must resolve your dispute within two billing cycles or 90 days, whichever is later.

  • Disputes about Merchandise or Services You generally can dispute charges for unsatisfactory goods or services (including issues about the quality of an item) if you made a good faith effort to resolve the dispute with the seller, if the charge is for more than $50, or if you made the purchase in your home state or within 100 miles of your current billing address. In addition to disputing the charge with the issuer, you may want to consider filing an action against the merchant in small claims court.

Unauthorized Charges

If your credit card is lost, stolen, or used without your permission, you can be responsible for up to $50. If you report the loss before the card is used, you're not responsible for any unauthorized charges. But if a thief uses your card before you report it missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges is $50. If the thief uses your card number — but not your card — you are not responsible for the unauthorized charges.

To minimize your liability, report a loss as soon as possible. Some issuers have 24-hour toll-free telephone numbers to accept emergency information. It’s a good idea to follow-up with a letter: include your account number, the date you noticed your card missing, and the date you reported the loss. Keep a copy of the letter for your files.

Written by Jason Feith on 7th Jan, 2015