When Should I Dispute a Charge on My Credit Card or Debit Card?


Statements for credit and debit cards sometimes contain errors. For instance, you might be charged for a subscription you canceled or for an item you purchased that never arrived. Take these steps if you are concerned about a charge on your statement.

1. Look for signs of fraud.
If you don’t recognize a transaction, take a closer look at your account history. Is it possible that the charge was made by another cardholder on your account? If so, see if that person has details. If not, are the charges from an out-of-town gas station or a merchant you don’t recognize? Do you see other unusual transactions? These are all red flags for fraud.

Couple reviewing receipts together verifying expenditures.

If UW Credit Union issued your card, you can lock it while you address the unauthorized charges.

2. If you suspect fraud, alert your credit card issuer right away.
If you think fraud has occurred, let your credit card issuer know immediately. If possible, submit a fraud claim that provides additional details. If you act quickly, you could protect yourself from having to pay for anything a thief charged to your account.

If UW Credit Union issued your card, your first fraud-reporting step is logging into our app or Web Branch. Next, find the charge in question in your account history, click on it and choose “dispute this transaction.” When asked the reason for your dispute, select “I do not recognize this transaction.” Then follow the prompts to share details about the incident. For more details about this process, visit our Card Activity FAQ page.

Once you’ve submitted your dispute, you’ll receive a confirmation in the secure messaging area of the app or Web Branch. As a precaution, we will also close your card.

3. If there’s a problem with a transaction you recognize, contact the merchant’s customer service department.
If you’re confident that the transaction in question isn’t fraud, start the problem-solving process by contacting the merchant that placed a charge on your card. In most cases, the merchant’s website lists phone number for a customer service department that can help you.

Reach out to the merchant if any of the following have happened:

  • You didn’t receive a product or service even though you paid for it
  • You returned an item purchased with your card but see no refund on your statement
  • You’ve been charged for a service that you canceled
  • A charge that posted to your card is a larger amount than expected
  • The same transaction posted to your card twice

If you contacted a business and were promised a refund or a credit, try to be patient as you wait for the refund to post. Customer service agents are dealing with extraordinarily high call volumes during the COVID-19 crisis, which can affect how long it takes to process a refund.

4. If the COVID-19 crisis has altered your travel plans, reach out to your service providers.
The COVID-19 crisis has affected many people who made travel plans before the pandemic occurred. Recently enacted travel restrictions have prompted many businesses in the travel industry to revise their policies about refunds. Some businesses will let you change or cancel your travel arrangements. If your airline canceled your flight, you should be eligible for a refund. Sometimes, instead of refunding a transaction to your credit or debit card, you’ll receive a voucher that can be used for future travel.

Keep in mind that the merchant is your best source of information about its policies—and a quick resolution of the situation. Typically, whether you’re eligible for a refund depends on the merchant’s policies and any contracts you may have signed.

5.If the merchant is unhelpful or unresponsive, consider other types of assistance.
When contacting the merchant doesn’t solve the problem, alternative avenues of recourse may be helpful. If an airline canceled your flight and won’t provide a refund, you can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. For other situations, you can file a dispute with your card issuer. Make sure to tell the card issuer about any attempts to resolve the situation with the merchant. For cards issued by UW Credit Union, this process is similar to filing a fraud claim. Visit our Card Activity FAQ page for details.

If you have questions specific to a UW Credit Union debit or credit card, please contact us. We’re here to help, and we’ll always act in your best interest.

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