A recent story about the spate for credit card fraud involving small charges reminded me of something that happened to me recently.

My Potential Credit Card Fraud Scam
I don’t actually know that this was fraud, but I know that American Express settled the dispute within four days and neither my husband nor I made the charge.

I don’t check my credit card statement frequently, because my husband does. However, I happened to log in one day and notice a strange charge for $14.59 from a web company. I looked into the charge, and it said it was for an “internet download.” I visited the company website, and it said that charges for a variety of websites they service could appear under their name. That alone seemed suspicious to me – how would they track who the money was owed to if all the charges appeared under their own name? The address was near me, and appeared to be a mailbox center. (Yay, Google for image maps!)

I asked my husband if he’d downloaded anything in the last week, and he hadn’t. I filed a dispute and AmEx found in my favor within a week. I now see that the company’s website is gone.

Beware of Unfamiliar Charges
If we didn’t check our credit cards regularly, this charge probably would have slipped by. That’s why it’s very important to view your bill every month. You only have 60 days from the statement date to dispute a charge. Disputing a charge doesn’t cost you anything and it doesn’t take more than a minute to sign on, find the charge, and dispute it.

The scammers referenced in the article above usually charged less than $10 because that will usually go undetected.

What Happens When You Dispute a Charge
The dispute process is simple:

  • First, you dispute the charge phone or online.
  • The charge is removed from your account pending investigation.
  • The credit card company contacts the merchant.
  • The merchant verifies the charge.
  • If the merchant can prove the charge was valid, it will reappear on your card. If they can’t, the charge is invalidated.
  • You’ll receive a letter notifying you of the findings.

If you don’t recognize a charge, first see if your spouse or another authorized user made the charge. If no one recognizes it, file a dispute immediately. There’s no reason not to, and it may help you avoid having your card used in future scams.

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