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Disputing Student Credit Card Charges

By: Larry Goldberg

Don’t worry – it’s happened to lots of students. The credit card bill arrives, and there’s a charge you know nothing about. While you might think the best first course of action is to call your mom and whine about how unfair it is to be charged for merchandise you never ordered, this may actually be one of those situations you can handle yourself now that you’re on your own.


  1. First, call the company who placed the charge there. Whether it’s an online retailer or a brick and mortar store, talk to the merchant first about the charge. Discuss whether or not there is any possibility of a refund given that you never made a purchase with their company. Be sure not only to contact the merchant by phone, but also to send a follow-up letter in writing. Document your contact with the help of certified mail, as by this time, you need to start creating a paper trail of your attempts to change this charge.
  2. Second, if the merchant can’t (or in some cases, won’t) help you out, your next step is to talk directly to the credit card company. Let them know what the situation is, and that you’d like to dispute the charge that is now on your account. The laws say that you have to do this within sixty day of receiving the actual bill in the mail. If you wait longer, statues of limitations expire. In some cases, the credit card company with e-mail, fax, or mail you a form to fill out, sign, and return. At this stage of the game, you’ll need copies of bills and receipts to ensure that you can prove your side of the story. If your company doesn’t send you a form to fill out, download one of the many form letters online to send to your company to further the paper trail of your attempts.
  3. Finally, it’s time to play the waiting game. Credit card companies have up to thirty days before they have to respond to your claim, and in many cases, it will take that long to sort through the paperwork chain. If the credit card company refuses your claim, you can try to work with them a bit further, and look at your other options, but outside of taking them or the merchant to court, there’s little that you can do.


The Law In Cases Like These

Luckily, the law is actually on your side in most cases like these. The Fair Credit Billing Act protects most of your purchases on a credit card. In fact, the law even gives you the power to not pay for bad merchandise or something that arrives damaged. The catch with this law, though, is that your purchase has to have been for more than fifty bucks, and it has to have taken place within the state you live in or within one hundred miles of your address. Talk with your credit card company or your legal representative about how this law works in your individual case.



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