Using Credit Card Chargebacks

Checkbook publishes useful reports on consumer products and services. They have an updated report on using credit card chargebacks in cases of defective goods or fraudulent charges of any kind.

The Fair Credit Billing Act gives consumers the right to dispute charges and withhold payment for goods and services that you didn’t accept or that weren’t delivered as promised. Consumers must first try to work it out with a seller (be sure to put it in writing), but if that doesn’t work, consumers should go online to the credit card company and ask for a chargeback.

Checkbook asked its members to share their credit card chargeback stories; members sent more than 100 emails, almost all of them success stories. Some shared negative experiences with credit card issuers siding with sellers, even when sellers clearly were in the wrong.

The law states that consumers have to contest a charge within 60 days of receiving a bill, but banks affiliated with Visa and MasterCard give their customers 120 days or longer to contest it. Oddly, the law protects you only for purchases in the consumer’s home state or within 100 miles of your address, but the credit card companies usually let you contest any charge. Debit charges are not covered by this law unless the debit was run as a credit charge through the VISA or MasterCard system.

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