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How do you reverse a credit card transaction?

Do you need an incorrect credit card charge reversed? Learn how to dispute transactions with your bank.

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Fact checked

Mistakes on your credit card statement are forgivable, as long as they are rectified. It may be a transaction you don’t recognise, a direct payment after you have cancelled it or an instance where the merchant has charged you twice. Whatever the case, you should always immediately bring any inconsistencies in your statement to the bank’s attention, so you are given the opportunity to dispute and reverse incorrect charges. This is especially urgent if you suspect your card has been stolen or breached, since you need the account to be instantly frozen to prevent more fraudulent transactions.

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How do I lodge a dispute?

The process for lodging a dispute varies according to the bank. Some will let you provide the necessary information online, while you may need to call others.

What transactions can I dispute?

It is your right as a consumer and account holder to dispute a variety of credit card errors. These can include:

  • Unauthorised transaction: You didn’t authorise a transaction or don’t recognise it.
  • Unauthorised charges: You cancelled a subscription or a membership, as per the terms and conditions, and you are still being charged.
  • Errors: There was an error in the transaction, for example, you were charged twice or charged the wrong amount.
  • Disputes: You have a dispute with a merchant, for example, you never received the goods or services you paid for, or you received defective or incorrect goods.

What should I check before I dispute a transaction?

First, please ensure the charge in question is indeed an error by following these steps:

  1. If it’s a dispute or you think it was a mistake, contact the merchant and invite them to make it right.
  2. Check all your receipts and transaction records for the period in question, paying close attention to items from the same retailer or financial institution. Try reconciling total amounts over the period, bearing in mind that some transactions may not be processed on the same day.
  3. Check if you can relate the purchase to something else you bought in the same period.Bear in mind, some merchants may have a different billing name to their trading name.
  4. If you have an additional cardholder, check to make sure the purchase wasn’t theirs.
  5. If it is the transaction amount that does not match, check if an exchange rate, international transaction fee or other surcharge was applied by the merchant.
  6. If the transaction was for an automatic payment or direct debit that you believe has been cancelled, contact the retailer for clarification. Some contracts specify cut-off dates for cancelling regular payments, which makes the charge legitimate if your notice of cancellation was given after that date.

If you are still unable to resolve the issue after doing all of the above, contact your bank immediately to initiate an investigation.

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What happens after my dispute is lodged?

You will typically 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 within a specified time frame. They will usually ask 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 is not likely to be successful.

What is the difference between a chargeback and a disputed transaction?

There is a distinct difference between a chargeback 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 you are prepared to provide the bank with all of the information you have about the transaction and be aware you may 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 the wrong amount, or is for goods you ordered but were unable to use.

What should I be wary of?

New Zealand 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 transaction online, make sure you print or email yourself a copy of the receipt. This will help you to lodge 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 the next billing cycle to ensure your bill 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 company, they have different criteria and time frames that have to be met for resolving disputes.
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Frequently asked questions

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