Going through your credit card bill, you find a $400 charge at McDonalds in Bangkok. Wait! When did you go to Bangkok, and what would you buy for $400 at McDonalds?
Chances are, your credit card information was stolen, and there's been some fraudulent charges on your account. Usually, the process of disputing those charges is relatively painless. You call your credit card company and make a report. They freeze your card, give you a refund, and send you a new card. Easy, and done.
Sadly, it doesn't always happen that way. Your credit card company may deny your fraud claims. What do you do then?
1. File a Police Report
If you haven't done so already, file a police report. In the report, state the amount you lost, where the charge occurred, and why you think it's a fraudulent charge. Make sure you get a copy for yourself.
2. Appeal the Decision
If the credit card company denies your fraud claim, you are entitled to ask for an explanation and to appeal the decision.
Often, a claim may be denied because there was not enough documentation substantiating your claim. Find any documents such as receipts, police reports, or other evidence that you weren't even in the country where the charge occurred, and resubmit those to your credit card company.
3. File a Complaint with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
If the appeal process fails, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB has a simple to use website where you can fill out a complaint form. You will need to describe what happened, how much money you lost, and what resolution you desire.
If a complaint to the CFPB does not produce desirable results, you have 30 days to dispute the decision as well.
4. Contact an Attorney
If the fraud and dispute process is getting overwhelming, you may want to consider hiring a consumer protection attorney. While hiring an attorney for a $30 fraudulent charge may seem excessive, identity and credit card thieves can rack up thousands of dollars of fraudulent charges in your name. The attorney can deal and negotiate with the credit card company for you. If push comes to shove, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit to help get your money back.