June 3, 2005
ALERT: DISPUTING A CREDIT CARD CHARGE
the latest issue of his Consumer’s Edge newsletter, Attorney
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. reminds consumers of a key advantage
to using a credit card to make a purchase: the ability to ask the
credit card issuer to credit back the charge if the consumer does
not get what was paid for.
Some purchases are riskier than others–for example, expensive
items, items purchased over the Internet, and goods or services
that will be delivered later, such as special-ordered furniture.
If a consumer paid for such items by cash, check or debit card,
and doesn’t receive the item or the item is not what
was promised, the consumer may be out of luck if the merchant
to refund the money. However, if the consumer paid with a credit
card, he can ask the credit card issuer for a refund.
The federal Fair Credit Billing Act requires credit card issuers
to correct billing errors and resolve disputes between consumers
and merchants. If a consumer does not receive an item that
was ordered with a credit card, or is dissatisfied with the
of goods or services and has tried unsuccessfully to resolve
the dispute with the merchant, he can dispute the charge with
card issuer. The consumer can withhold payment on the disputed
item while the credit card issuer investigates the dispute.
Curran advises consumers to follow the dispute procedure instructions
in their credit card statements. Generally, consumers must
send a letter outlining the dispute to their credit card issuer
60 days after the disputed item appeared on their billing statement.
The card issuer will investigate and decide whether to remove
the charge. If it does, in most cases that resolves the problem
the consumer. A merchant does have the right under the law
to try to collect from the consumer directly or take the consumer
However, at least in that situation the consumer has his money
back and it is the merchant trying to get it, rather than vice
Consumers should use credit cards carefully to avoid getting into
debt," Curran said. "However, in certain circumstances
paying with a credit card is a good choice because of the billing
dispute rights should there be a problem with the purchase."
The Consumer’s Edge issue on credit card dispute rights
can be found at www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/edge119.htm