Bogus charges on the Visa
March 9, 2007 1:45 PM   Subscribe

We found an unauthorized charge of about $1,000 on our Visa statement -- from seven months ago (groan). What's our best plan for recovering these funds?

Today I was reviewing last year's purchases -- scanning for 2006 deductible items -- when I noticed a charge of more than $1k to a WalMart in Kentucky in August last year. There's no way that's ours.

So you'd think we'd notice such a large charge on our credit card, but we put everything, including frequent business travel, on this credit card each month. We scan the bills each month...and...somehow...this one line item escaped us. (Our monthly bill varies from between $3,000 and $7,000 each month, so the total was no surprise.)

I've done my homework and noticed that Visa expects fraudulent charges to be contested within 60 days or a"reasonable" time period. Obviously we're well outside of that. Before I pick up the phone and call Visa in my feeble attempt to fix this, I'm wondering what you'd recommend as a course of action to recover this money. Thanks.
posted by diastematic to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If your card is with a bank (such as the craptacular B of A), I'd call them first, but if not, Visa should probably be the first.

also, since the amount is larger, you might have more luck with stretching the "reasonable" time period. good luck!
posted by kitalea at 1:58 PM on March 9, 2007

When talking to your bank and in the follow-up letter you send to formally dispute the charge, don't refer to it as fraudulent, but rather as a charge that you are disputing because it was, to the best of your knowledge, unauthorized. This at least puts them in a position of needing to trace the authorization rather than just saying you're outside the window to claim fraud.

It may turn out that it's a honest mistake or computer error, too, so don't get too negative too quickly.

Good luck!
posted by backupjesus at 2:05 PM on March 9, 2007

I've had this happen to me before, simply call them and they will send you a form, as long as you haven't made a claim recently it won't be a problem to get the money back.
posted by sophist at 2:51 PM on March 9, 2007

I was able to successfully dispute a four month old double-charge with BofA before, so I think you probably will still be able to dispute it with your credit card company. But, I suppose in my case it was pretty clearly an error, and not fraud... I don't know if that's handled differently or not.
posted by yeoz at 3:01 PM on March 9, 2007

". . . or a"reasonable" time period. Obviously we're well outside of that."

Don't concede that! Sheesh, it's your best hope! Practice: it's reasonable, it's reasonable, it's reasonable. Convincing yourself will make you more convincing.
posted by gregoryc at 3:22 PM on March 9, 2007

Maybe it's not a Walmart in KY. It could be a Walmart subsidiary and it could by merely processed in KY. I would call the number listed for this line item to investigate. That's the big reason behind the reasonable period, after a while people forget what they used their card for.

If it really isn't your charge, the vendor may work with you to reverse it. Or provide you with a signature. The more documentation you collect, the better off you will be in fighting the charge.
posted by GIRLesq at 3:58 PM on March 9, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your help thus far. We've called our bank and they've told us they can't help as we didn't report this within 60 days of the statement. Which I think is BS -- it could be as simple as a billing error, but they say they won't even look into it. We asked to elevate, but were told there's nothing to elevate. Not cool.

So I've called back and asked to speak with a customer-retention specialist or account relationship manager. I don't want to know what their minimum requirements are, legally...I want to know what they're willing to do to make me happy and keep me as a customer. We've been with this company (Everbank) as a checking and credit-card customer for 8 years, and we've been very good consumer customers for them. The least they could do is try to look into it. The most they could do is just solve the problem with no further trouble.

Will keep you posted. Any additional advice is helpful, thanks.
posted by diastematic at 4:57 PM on March 9, 2007

Best answer: If you average, say, $5k in transactions each month, then you're worth $60k a year. Over the next 15 years, they'll processs approximately $1M in credit card transactions from you. Even if you never carry a balance, I'm assuming they pocket 2-4% from merchants. That means you have a $20k to $40k value over the next 15 years. If you extrapolate for your customer lifetime value (total # future years), this number should be even higher. Ask them to consider your customer lifetime value when you talk to the retention person.
posted by acoutu at 5:16 PM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for adding it up for me -- it's a much stronger case.
posted by diastematic at 7:32 PM on March 9, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, should my bank not care to help me out, I'd definitely be writing this up online and dropping the story in at a few well-visited sites.

Hoping none of that's necesary at this point. So far I've faxed in a request to the bank, who knows where this is going to go.
posted by diastematic at 10:18 PM on March 9, 2007

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