“I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges for 3 Months (But the Bank Came to the Rescue!)”

“I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges for 3 Months (But the Bank Came to the Rescue!)”

Million Mile Secrets“I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges for 3 Months (But the Bank Came to the Rescue!)”Million Mile Secrets Team

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Using rewards credit cards for all your purchases is key if you’re in the miles and points hobby.  But sometimes things go wrong and you’ll suddenly find a charge on your card you didn’t make or authorize.  Yikes!   Team member Jasmin recently had an interesting experience disputing fraudulent charges on her Chase Freedom card.  I’ll let her tell you about it!

Jasmin:   Let me start this story by saying I feel a little silly.  I broke one of the cardinal rules of using (and managing) my 20+ credit cards.

I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges For 3 Months But The Bank Came To The Rescue
Major Fail! I Didn’t Keep a Close Eye on Charges I Assumed Were Legit From Amazon

I spend a fair amount at Amazon because I have a Prime membership.  So seeing Amazon charges on my accounts is normal.  And even though I usually carefully monitor my account transactions, I didn’t notice a recurring ~$8 Amazon charge on my Chase Freedom for 3 months.  I was mortified – how could I have been so careless?

Fortunately, I caught it in time and Chase was quick to reverse the charges.  But that’s not where it ended…

Zero Liability Protection Is Great…Grumpy Merchants Are NOT

Link:   Are Credit Cards Safer Than Debit Cards?

Link:   Evil Santa Charged $700 Worth of Toys on My Card!

One of the great things about using credit cards is that under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you’re (usually) NOT liable for fraudulent charges on your card.  Most banks, like Chase, and networks, like Visa, have their own zero liability protection guarantees.

1.   Chase Had My Back

When I discovered the ~$8 charge from “Amazon Digital Services” on my Chase Freedom account, I immediately disputed it online, indicating I had not authorized or made the purchase (and didn’t even know what it was for!).  A quick check of my Amazon account didn’t show any purchases in that amount, either.

I looked backward to previous statements and discovered Amazon had charged the same amount for 2 billing statements prior (a total of ~$24 in unauthorized charges).  Did I mention I felt silly?

I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges For 3 Months But The Bank Came To The Rescue
The Quickest Way to Dispute a Charge With Chase Is to Log Into Your Account and Send a Secure Message

After filing my dispute online, I got a secure message response saying they’d cancelled my card and would send a new one.  And a few days later, Chase called me for more details.  I (embarrassingly) admitted I had not noticed the recurring charge until now.

But the Chase representative was kind and helpful.  Soon after, my new card was in the mail and the ~$24 worth of charges were reversed on my account.

2.   Then the Amazon Emails Started

Shortly after the charges were reversed, I got multiple emails (for each of the ~$8 charges) from Amazon stating my account had been suspended until they received payment for the chargeback they got from Chase:

The first version:

I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges For 3 Months But The Bank Came To The Rescue
Amazon Missed the Point – I Hadn’t Authorized These Charges for “Amazon Digital Services” and There Was NO Record of It on My Amazon Account

I responded saying I hadn’t ordered anything from Amazon in this amount.  I tried to log into my Amazon account and discovered I had indeed been locked out. 

Then the next round of emails came:

I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges For 3 Months But The Bank Came To The Rescue
Not Nice – Amazon Said “Not Our Problem, Talk to the Bank”

Amazon probably knows they’re important to a lot of folks, so can take a hard line on such things.  Usually at this point in a dispute it would be up to the seller and bank to duke it out over the fraudulent charge!

If it had been any other merchant, I probably could have dropped it there, written it off, and not shopped there again.  But it’s Amazon and I shop there a lot.  And I was still locked out of my account (which had a gift card balance in it!).

3.   And Then I Made Some Calls

Next, I called Amazon customer service.  At first, they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.  After some digging and being bounced around between representatives, they gave me the same line.  They wanted a new credit card number to charge the ~$24 I had disputed.

I very firmly (but politely) re-explained my case:

  • I had not authorized or made the charges
  • There was no record of these charges on my Amazon account
  • I would NOT be providing them with a new credit card to bill for the amount
  • I expected immediate access to my Amazon account to continue to make purchases with them
I Missed Recurring Fraudulent Charges For 3 Months But The Bank Came To The Rescue
Explaining the Situation to Amazon Customer Service Was Incredibly Frustrating and Time Consuming

Finally a representative “got it.”  He asked me to verify my account details (no credit card numbers) and gave me instructions on how to re-access my account.  Obviously with a new password!

When I was able to login again, they’d removed all my saved credit card information.  Fair enough.  And thankfully, the gift card balance on my account had not been touched.

All told, I spent a couple of hours going back and forth via email and phone with Amazon to get this sorted.  That’s a lot of time for a ~$24 charge.  But it was the principle more than the amount.

It felt like I was being held hostage for ~$24 by Amazon – I could either never shop with them again (painful), or cough up the cash.  I was not impressed with Amazon at all.

But I was very happy with Chase’s response and follow-through.  That’s why Chase has such a good reputation for customer service!

Bottom Line

You’re usually NOT liable for unauthorized charges to your credit card.  When you dispute a transaction, banks like Chase are typically quick to respond, investigate, and reverse the charges if they’re indeed fraudulent.

But dealing with the merchant can be a different story.  And in this case, Amazon (where the fraudulent charges occurred) tried to strong-arm a Million Mile Secrets team member into re-paying the fraudulent charges.  And suspended her Amazon account in the process!

In situations like this, it’s important to document your situation (via email or secure message) and be persistent in dealing with customer service representatives.  Hang up and call again if you have to.

And always, always double check your credit card statements for unusual transactions.  Fraudulent charges can be easy to miss if you’re not paying attention!

I’d love to hear about your experiences disputing charges on your credit card account!

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Also, the bank didn't come to the rescue, federal law did.

Generally, if possible it's best to contact the merchant about the charges first. I own an ecommerce site and I can't tell you how many times over the years a quick call would have let them know what the charge was for. Sometimes it's really fraud, frequently it's someone who forgot what they ordered until we let them know what it was.

That's good advice. Unfortunately Amazon wasn't terribly helpful in even saying what the charges were for at first.

I have no idea why that was the case, it sounds like an incompetent CSR. Normally there's no reason they shouldn't be able to.

You should definitely check your digital orders and/or subscriptions from your Amazon account. Just be ready for the 3 $7.99 charges to show back up when Amazon provides Chase with proof that you did in fact authorize those charges. The term "provisional credit" will soon be explained to you. You will become aware that Chase only has "your back" until Amazon responds to the dispute.

Hi Andrew - I definitely did check - there were *no* digital orders for anything on my Amazon account. Amazon couldn't provide an answer either. I did just receive a letter from Chase saying they'd completed their investigation and that the refunds to my account would stay.

The above doesn't sound right. If the charge was fraudlent, why it in fact was associated with the person's Amazon account? $7.99 a month looks like a charge for Amazon Music Unlimited that author might have signed up for free trial but forgot to cancel.

I agree, I am sure Amazon could explain what the $7.99/MO charges were for.

There weren't any digital orders on my account. Never had or tried the unlimited music ... it was definitely frustrating but I was happy it got sorted out!