Chargebacks and Fraud

Chargebacks - how they work and how to avoid them

What's a Chargeback?

A chargeback is like a refund. It is a right which may be exercised in certain situations by a cardholder's financial services provider against a merchant, to charge back responsibility for a card transaction from the cardholder to the merchant.

When do Chargebacks occur?

It occurs when a cardholder disputes a transaction on their credit or debit card, or through a direct debit, and asks for the charge to be reversed.

Chargebacks can only be made for certain reasons, and will depend on matters such as:

  • The terms and conditions of the credit or debit card or the bank account, which will explain when and how a cardholder can claim a chargeback.
  • The rules of credit or debit card scheme, such as Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.
  • The Merchant Agreement, which sets out when a transaction is invalid or unacceptable, and is liable to be charged back to the merchant (where the dispute is lodged by a merchant)
  • Reasons given by the cardholder for wanting the transaction charged back (where the disputes is lodged by the cardholder).

If the cardholder’s reason for disputing the transaction does not fall within the card scheme’s reasons, they may not be able to reverse the transaction. In these circumstances, the cardholder may need to take up their complaint directly with the merchant (the company that provided the goods or service).

It is important to remember that the cardholder’s bank is required to claim a chargeback and the merchant’s bank is obliged to process a chargeback against the merchant’s facility if the reason for the chargeback is consistent with the relevant card scheme rules. Some common reasons for chargebacks are:

  • No cardholder authorisation
  • Illegal transaction
  • Forged signature on voucher
  • Expired card
  • Goods/services not supplied
  • Transaction over floor limit without authorisation
  • Processing offline when terminal working

A merchant should respond promptly to any chargeback request and supply relevant information to its FSP.

Most merchant chargeback disputes are raised where a merchant has a chargeback claimed against them or where the merchant is a victim of fraud and the dispute is lodged against the merchant.