How to dispute a debit card charge (Unauthorized charges or services not rendered)

How do you dispute a debit card charge?

Debit card charges can be disputed by contacting your bank’s fraud department. The bank will open up an investigation and you may receive provisional credit. Once the investigation is complete, the bank may allow you to keep the credit or the credit will be removed from your account.

Imagine, being able to get your money back from a charge you didn’t make on your debit card. Nothing spoils your mood more than seeing money taken from your account!

Disputing a debit card charge isn’t impossible, but it is difficult.

Luckily for you, I’ll show you the steps needed to dispute a debit card charge. I’ll show you how to protect yourself in the future and how long you have to report the charges. You’ll be on your way to getting your money back in no time!

TFF22-002 - How to dispute a debit card charge (Unauthorized charges or services not rendered)

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How to dispute a debit card charge

Contact your bank or card issuer after you notice a cleared fraudulent charge to your bank account. Your bank can give you provisional credit while they investigate the fraudulent activity. The investigation of your claim typically takes about 10 days, after which they will either let you keep the credit or remove the funds depending on the findings.

Disputing a debit card charge is significantly more challenging than a credit card charge. Credit cards are preferred because they offer greater consumer protection. Fraudulent credit card charges are almost always restored, but that’s not always the case for debit cards.

Typically, your bank will have the final say as to whether or not the funds are restored. Personally, the bank did not restore the funds missing from my debit card, but informed me they would have if I used a credit card.

Verify the charges are fraudulent

The first step you should take is to verify you or other joint account users didn’t make the charge. In a lot of cases, the spouse made a large purchase without telling their significant other. Other times, people are just forgetful and don’t remember what they bought at Walmart for $9.99.

Contact your bank

The next step is to contact your bank or card issuer. Typically, the bank has their own fraud department which you can find the number for online. Inform the bank of the fraudulent date, charge amount, and why you believe the charge to be fraud.

Your bank will now open up an investigation into your claim of fraudulent charges.

Receive provisional credit

The bank can give you provisional credit, which means they temporarily restore the funds to your account while investigating. The bank must give you provisional credit for investigations which take longer than 10 days or 20 days for out-of-state transactions.

You will be able to keep these funds if the bank approves your claim of fraud. However, the bank will remove the funds if there was no fraud or they feel you were negligent with your card information.

How long do you have to dispute a charge on your debit card?

You have 60 days after receiving your bank statement to dispute fraudulent charges. Lost or stolen cards must be reported within 2 business days to cap losses at $50. Failure to report a lost or stolen card puts all liability on yourself. Reporting fraudulent charges after 60 days without a lost or stolen card will only reimburse charges made within the first 60 days.

When can you dispute a debit card charge?

Your bank will allow you to dispute a cleared transaction that you did not authorize. However, the bank may not allow you to dispute a charge if you have let an unauthorized user use your debit card in the past. In some cases, you may need to file a police report in order to dispute the charges.

For example, you and your spouse have a joint bank account. Your spouse is an authorized user and can use your debit card. However, your best friend can’t use your debit card because their name is not on the account.

Other examples of unauthorized users might include your children, parents, other immediate family members, friends, etc. who are not listed on your account.

Your card issuer may ask you if you’ve ever let an unauthorized user use your debit card. If you say yes, the card issuer may reserve the right to deny your request to dispute.

Reasons you can dispute a debit card charge include:

  • Canceling a transaction or subscription, but still getting charged.
  • Not receiving your goods or service.
  • Receiving a subpar or low quality goods or service (not as advertised)
  • Being overcharged

Therefore, you can dispute a charge when legitimate fraud has occurred and you have never given another user access to your card.

Additionally, your card issuer will not allow you to dispute a pending transaction. Pending transactions still have the potential to be reversed and the money has not cleared yet. However, a cleared transaction has been finalized and you may dispute the charge.

Can I dispute a debit card charge that I willingly paid for?

You can dispute a debit card charge that you willingly paid for if you canceled the transaction, but still got charged anyway. Being overcharged or receiving a low quality product may also be disputed. However, you cannot dispute a debit card charge that you willingly paid for and received the product or service you purchased.

For example, you make a purchase online but you never receive the product. The merchant says the product shipped, but you never received it. You may dispute this charge if the merchant does not give you a refund.

However, you may not dispute the charge if the product does show up.

Another example would be if you bought an item for $50, but was charged $500 instead. You were overcharged and can get your money back.

Can I dispute a charge on my debit card if I was scammed?

You may dispute a charge on a debit card if you were scammed by contacting your bank. Typical scams include paying for goods or services that were not rendered or misleading the consumer over what they were receiving.

An example would include purchasing a stainless steel water bottle online. However, the product was aluminum instead. You try to contact the seller, but you have no means of reaching them.

Should I dispute unknown charges on my debit card?

Always verify you did not make the purchase before disputing an unknown charge on your debit card. Most often, the charge was made by an authorized user or the charge was legitimate. However, you can still dispute the charge and the bank will either approve or deny your claim.

Can my bank refund a transaction or charge?

Banks may refund a transaction or charge. Credit card transactions are more likely to be refunded than debit card transactions. Your bank will open up an investigation and decide to refund the transaction or not.

Summary: How to dispute a debit card charge

As you can see, disputing a debit card involves contacting your bank immediately upon noticing fraudulent charges. The faster you act, the easier it will be to get your money back. The bank has the ability to give you provisional credit, but it’s not required within the first 10 days of claim investigation.

You must report fraudulent charges within 60 days to minimize your liability. Failure to report may result in you taking on more liability for fraudulent charges.

Ultimately, the bank may not refund debit card transactions because they don’t have great buyer protection. Instead, credit cards will often come with better consumer protection and should be your primary means of purchasing.

John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.