What Do You Have to Do When Your Credit Card is Used Fraudulently? (Credit Card Misery: Part Two)

For some reason, I had thought that our credit card worries were over once we signed a letter disputing the fraudulent charges to our account and replaced the card with a new one. So it was with shock I opened two large envelopes from our bank to discover still more paperwork. Were we going to be on the hook for thousands of dollars we didn’t spend?

Reviewing the Vendor Authorizations and Bills for the Fraudulent Purchases

What was in each bulky envelope was individual packets for each transaction made illegally against our card. Apparently when we refused to pay,  the credit card company asked each company involved to provide proof that we had made a purchase.

Not Every Disputed Charge Turns Out to Be Fraud

I realized as I looked through the billing reports that this is actually a necessary step. It reminded me of a billing mystery we’d faced a few months before. On that bill, there was a charge for about $1.57 payable to an online book seller. It seemed a very unlikely amount. We almost always order enough for “free shipping” so the bill should have been over $25. The listing on our monthly statement just listed the name of the vendor and a toll free number. It didn’t state what item or items had been purchased.

Luckily, saving probable embarrassment, before I took it any further the light bulb went off in my head. We had placed an order for one of our children. Most of the order had been paid for with a gift card they received from a birthday. The balance, $1.57, had to be paid for directly by credit card.

That’s an example of why the credit card company wants us to review the transaction details. What if we denied a charge by accident due to faulty memories or some mix-up about the name of a company? By reading the detailed transaction history we would have known what books were ordered for “$1.57.” Similarly, we might look through these bills and realize the name a company bills under differs from the name of the company’s website.

Tight Deadline Causes Minor Panic

The forms requested us to review the transaction details and if we still denied making the purchases we needed to sign them and send them back. If we didn’t return the signed forms by a deadline, we were deemed to have accepted the charges as valid and they would appear on our next bill.

The panic came from the deadline. The forms were printed by the bank on June 19 but we didn’t receive them until Thursday June 27. And we had to return them by July 3. Yes, that’s right, Canada Day weekend stood between the day we got them and when they had to be back.

A phone call to the bank was somewhat calming. They said they could be faxed back from any bank branch. They also said that they usually give a bit of grace period despite what the letter said. In fact, judging by the tone of the person I spoke with, I think these types of disputes must be very common and these types of mail delays must not be unusual.

Faxed Back and Now We Wait Again

So we have faxed back our forms. Now we wait again. We’re waiting for the vendor forms for the other 1/3 of our disputed charges. They are likely still in the mail.

Will it all end well? I certainly hope so. It’s almost enough to make me stop using a credit card entirely.

Who Really Pays for Credit Card Fraud

I felt rather sick realizing how many small businesses were going to lose because of this fraud. They mailed their merchandise off to the customer in good faith. Now they have no way to get back those Apple TVs and iPod kits. Yet they have no way to get paid for them either. That’s got to hurt.

And, of course, eventually it is all of us who will be paying for this fraud. Those businesses will have to raise their prices to real customers to cover their losses. Or they will go bankrupt which will reduce price competition and again lead to higher prices.

I hope they catch the perpetrators of this crime and jail them. They have robbed from all of us and they should be the ones who have to pay for it.

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