You have rights too! How to dispute credit card transactions with your bank and get the money put back into your account
Mistakes on your credit card statement are forgivable, so long as they are rectified. You may notice a charge that was never authorised by you or an instance where a merchant charged you twice. It is your right as the holder of the account to bring any issues with your statement to the bank’s attention. They should then give you the opportunity to dispute it, and have the charge reversed.
If you suspect something more serious, such as someone has gained access to your credit card account, this needs to be brought to the attention of the bank immediately. In order to avoid any more unlawful transactions, they may put a stop on the existing account and issue you a new one. This is for your financial protection, as well as a way for the bank to protect itself from being held responsible for those charges that you did not authorise.
How can I dispute a transaction?
To start with, you are going to want to ensure that the charge in question is indeed an error. To do this, you should first:
- Check all of your receipts and transaction records for the time period in question, paying close attention to any from the same retailer or financial institution
- Look carefully at the date of the transaction keeping in mind that the name you know a merchant by may not be the same as what they use to trade with. Some transactions are not processed exactly on the same day, especially if they were made after normal business hours, so try and remember all transactions for the one or two days prior to the date printed on your statement
- If you have an additional cardholder, check with them to make sure that they did not make the purchase
- If it is the amount that does not seem right, check to see if an exchange rate or other fee was applied.
If you have carefully checked all of the above and still have not resolved the issue on your own, bring it to the attention of your bank immediately.
What type of transactions can I dispute?
There are a number of errors that can be made with a credit card that you have the right to dispute with the bank. These include:
- Any transactions that were not made by you or by an authorised additional cardholder
- A transaction that you believe was made fraudulently
- Totals on your statement that do not match the total at the time you made the purchase
- Goods that you have received, but are not as they were described to be
- Transactions that were mistakenly charged to your account twice
- A cancelled automatic debit charge that is still being deducted
- Ordered goods that arrived to you defective
- An ATM withdrawal that dispensed the incorrect of amount of money.
What’s the difference between a chargeback and a disputed transaction?
There is a distinct difference between a charge back to your account and a transaction that needs to be disputed by the bank:
- Chargeback. A chargeback refers to purchases made using a debit directly from your bank account. If such an error is made, you should first try and resolve it yourself directly with the retailer. If not, your bank will dispute the claim with the retailer’s bank but only if you ask within 30 days of the transaction. Make sure that you are prepared to provide the bank with all of the information you have about the transaction and be aware that you might be charged a fee for this service.
- Disputed transaction. This term is used for credit purchases where a charge appears on your statement that you believe was made in error, is in the wrong amount, or is for goods that you ordered but were unable to use.
How do I lodge a dispute?
The process for lodging a dispute will vary by bank, but most will allow you to give the necessary information online. Here are some examples:
|NAB||After logging in to internet banking you can send NAB a secure message from the mailbox menu. Select “Electronic transaction dispute” for the subject line. You also have the options of printing a dispute form, filling it in and faxing or mailing it to NAB, lodging the dispute over the phone, or visiting a local branch.|
|St.George||You can lodge your dispute over the phone, or by logging into internet banking. Once logged in select “dispute a transaction” underneath the “did you know you can?” tab and follow the prompts. You can also lodge the dispute by selecting the relevant account and underneath “quicklinks” selecting “dispute a transaction.”|
|ANZ||ANZ has a form that you can download and complete if you need to lodge a complaint, or alternatively you can contact them by phone.|
What happens after my dispute is lodged?
You will receive confirmation from the bank once they have received your request for a dispute resolution. At this point it may be necessary for you to sign a form authorising their investigation which you will need to return to the bank in a specified time frame. They will also likely ask that you send them certain documentation in order for them to properly investigate the dispute. If you fail to provide them with all necessary information your dispute will likely not be successful.
Once you have lodged your credit card dispute with your bank, you can expect it to go through these three stages:
|Dispute Item Raised||Dispute Resolution Credit||Dispute Item Resolved|
|The transaction is being reviewed||The amount has been refunded to your account.||The transaction is no longer being reviewed.|
What should I be wary of?
Australian consumers have the right to not be charged for goods or services they did not receive. However, you should follow certain steps when using your credit card to protect yourself and your credit rating:
- Shopping online. When shopping online, only make purchases with established merchants that have been in business for an extended period of time. Websites can be set up from anywhere in the world, making it difficult to track down an individual who makes a charge to your account for goods, and then closes the site. In this case you may have to pursue a chargeback instead of reversing the credit card transaction.
- Print your online receipts. When completing a check-out online, make sure that you print or email yourself a copy of the receipt. This will help you in lodging a dispute if the goods are never received.
- Save credit card receipts. When using your credit card in a store, you should always check the receipt before signing it. Also save all receipts until at least the next billing cycle to ensure that it is accurate.
- Sign your credit card. If a merchant has a signed receipt from your account, it will have to match the signature shown on the back of your credit card.
- Contact the bank ASAP. Do not wait if you notice a charge to your credit card that should not be there. The bank is only an intermediary between you and the credit card companies, which all have different criteria and time frames that have to be met for resolving disputes.
Information on resolving credit card disputes
Your issuing bank will get involved to help dispute charges when you need to reverse a credit card transaction. It is best if you can solve any issues with the merchant with whom you made your original transaction. Most of them will work hard to ensure that you are satisfied with the outcome.
Frequently asked questions
Will I be obligated to pay interest on a disputed item?
No, the bank will not apply interest to items on your statement that are under dispute.
Are there fees for disputes and chargebacks?
Resolving a dispute will be done at no cost to you, but a chargeback may incur a fee. Check with the credit card terms and conditions to find out how much they charge for this service.
How long does it take to resolve a dispute?
It will depend on the bank and the circumstances, but the bank should be keeping you informed of their progress during the process. Expect it to take no less than a month, and in many cases even longer, for the charge to be removed from your account.
When should I lodge the dispute?
After checking over your own records to make sure that there is indeed an error, you should lodge the dispute immediately. This should be no more than 30 days after the date of the statement on which the error appears.
Should I still make payments towards my credit card while a dispute is under investigation?
Yes, you should continue with your payments as normal in order to avoid late fees or added interest.
What do I do if the dispute is not resolved in my favour?
Documentation from the merchant will be presented to your bank and then forwarded to you if they feel your dispute has no merit. You can either accept this and pay the charge, or opt to continue to dispute the transaction by providing evidence which negates theirs.
The first step is to file a complaint with the bank. If you are still not successful you might be able to get the Banking Ombudsman to order them to give you a refund.