What to do if you find a wrong or fraudulent charge on your credit card

I will be posting part 2 of my HELP-HECS article probably tomorrow…. I just left it at home on my laptop and forgot to save (rookie error!)

If you like this article you might also like to read my article Freebies and Discounts and Why companies offer them

Resource – see the letter I sent Credit Card Dispute Letter)

Types of incorrect charges on your credit card

OK firstly – lets clarify a few situations where you might look at your credit card statement and think you have been incorrectly (or unfairly) charged):

1. Misleading Charge (my example which I will share – I signed up for an e-book costing $2 but then the company    started charging $49 a fortnight to your credit card) If you are interested it was a facebook ad which led me to www.emillionaire.com site.

 2. Regular Charge you want to get out of (automatic monthly gym fees you want to stop paying)

 3. Fraudulent out of nowhere (you have no idea why there is a charge on your credit card and you have no idea about the company)

 4. Fraudulent from existing company (where you know the company but never authorised the subsequent charge)

Steps 1: QUICKLY Check that the charge is wrong

For Type 3 above (when you check your credit card statement and go… what the hell is that?) you might want to try to remember if you have purchased the amount.

HOWEVER – it is better to be safe than sorry. Lets say that you find a credit card charge for $50 that you don’t know what it is for. After you ring up and cancel your credit card you remember it was legitimate.

All you have lost is a few hours of time (in calling the credit card company, telling your direct debits of the new card number, etc) and inconvience of not being able to use your card for about 2 weeks while they send a new one.

Step 2: Email/Send a letter to Cancel the Service (if applicable)

Possibly for types 1, 2 and 4 above – if you have entered into an agreement try to cancel as soon as possible. Financial Institutions usually won’t refund your money unless you have cancelled.

Gym fees – Not sure exactly what to do here (google search it!) as gyms have been notoriously bad at letting you cancel your monthly agreement. Or they cancel the agreement and charge you a ridiculous cancelation fee like $150.

My $2 e-book – I emailed the company once I discovered 2 x $49 charges. I got a response later that week saying I had been cancelled. I also requested that they refund my money.

Note – I wouldn’t just call them – by sending an email/letter you have evidence you can show to the credit card company.

Step 3 – Call the Credit Card company

Depending on the situation you might wish to:

A. Find out how to report the charges to the credit card fraud department and request a refund.

B. Cancel your credit card (in my example I had 3 charges go through before I cancelled the card)

Step 4: Send a letter to credit card fraud department & request (if applicable)

If the company won’t reverse the charge (or charge extra charges after you cancelled) you should write a letter to the fraud department

(see the letter I sent here Credit Card Dispute Letter)

My example

In my example the bank didn’t refund the 1st $49 charge

Ideas to keep from getting stung

Tip #1 Check Your Credit Card and Bank Statements online every few weeks.

I have online banking for all my credit cards and bank statements. This allows me to check my balances/statements online and see if there are any incorrect credit card charges.

Tip #2 Don’t sign up for free products unless you are sure they are free (do your homework!)

I swear I read through the terms and conditions! And the CD was $2 US (which it was) – but then they charged $49 a month (I suppose when it sounds too good to be true – you should search google and check it out).

But there are a lot of legitimate people out there as well as a few fraudsters -I have purchased a few things through ebay and the net  and signed up for heaps of newsletters with no problems.

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