The Credit Card Shoppers and the Threat of Fraud

More and more consumers today are enticed to do their shopping over the internet. Despite the fact that many are still apprehensive, a significant percentage of shoppers today actually prefer to shop online primarily because it's more convenient for them. Each day, a new shopper is willing to try out shopping online and when the experience is a successful one, you can bet that this shopper will try again.

The increasing numbers of credit fraud and identity theft cases do not really prevent consumers from buying online and obviously online merchants continue to enjoy a profitable business. When the Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed, it gave consumers the right to dispute unauthorized charges in their account and be exempted from paying them.

However, not everyone seems to be aware of their rights or how to deal with fraud, in case they suspect one. In fact, some people have really no idea on what to do when they encounter billing errors with their creditors. Let's consider the basic pointers a buyer should know when using his card online:

Call your card issuer. When you receive your monthly billing statement and you notice unfamiliar charges in it, what should you do? The first step would to be to call your credit company's customer service department or complaints department and clarify these charges. In most cases, small discrepancies can easily be fixed simply by contacting your credit company without filing for a dispute.

However, for your future reference, it's still a good idea to follow-up your call with a letter and send it via registered post mail. Also, don't forget to take the name of the person you talked to on the phone and the response you received about the issue. As much as possible, record your call.

Send a dispute letter. For more complicated issues or complaints, a simple phone call will not be enough. To clarify the problem better, you should send a letter of dispute and point out the errors you've found in your billing statement. Make sure that your letter is addressed to the Complaints or Dispute Department of your credit card company. Include a copy of the billing statement with the errors clearly marked as well as other receipts or documents that support your claim. Mail it via registered post mail.

A letter of dispute is needed to settle serious problems in your account such as unauthorized charges, undelivered goods that you purchased through the card, returned items that were not credited to your account, and other similar complaints. Your credit company should be able to resolve the matter or give you the appropriate response within 30 days upon receipt of your letter.

If your dispute letter is neglected, you can demand that the matter be escalated to the higher administrative department of the credit card company. If that still does not solve the problem, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission for assistance.

Last but not the least, for your own protection, review and understand your credit card's terms and conditions as well as the merchant's policies on purchases, returns and guarantee protection. Before using your card for purchasing online, make sure that you are clear about your rights as a customer.