Someone used Shyla’s credit card without her authority to make purchases online which totalled around $6,500. The transactions started in mid-2019 and continued until early 2021.
Shyla was not checking her monthly account statements because she was not using her card to make purchases. She was focused on paying off her debt.
Shyla contacted her lender (the card issuer) in early 2021 as soon as she noticed unauthorised transactions. She believed someone she knew had found her card in her dresser and had taken down her card details.
The lender cancelled her card and Shyla completed a disputed transaction form, recording 12 transactions she disputed. There were other recent transactions she wanted to dispute but she could not fit them on the form. She also did not have all of her account statements, so she did not know when the transactions had started.
The lender did not provide the statements when Shyla requested them. They asked her whether she was disputing all transactions for the two merchants involved with the 12 transactions. Shyla did not respond.
The lender investigated the 12 transactions and agreed to credit them. The credit totalled around $380.
Shyla questioned why the lender had only credited 12 transactions. There were other transactions she wanted to dispute, but she needed the account statements to identify them.
The lender provided the statements and Shyla completed a new form with the details of all the transactions she disputed. The lender opened a new investigation but did not agree to credit any more transactions.
The lender said the disputed transactions were outside the timeframe, 120 days, a cardholder has under the card company’s rules to request a chargeback. A chargeback is a process a card issuer follows when a cardholder disputes a transaction. If the merchant (the retailer) cannot provide evidence that the cardholder authorised the transaction, the merchant may need to credit it.
The lender also said Shyla had not complied with their terms and conditions because she had not regularly checked her account statements. There was a significant delay between when the transactions started and when Shyla reported them to the lender.
Shyla believed the lender’s decision was unfair and complained to FSCL.
Shyla felt badly treated because the lender had only credited some of the disputed transactions, and she had paid interest on the transactions. She also felt their customer service was poor.
The lender said they had not done anything wrong. Their fraud team had thoroughly investigated the transactions. They credited the transactions on the first form. The other transactions were disputed outside the timeframe in the chargeback rules.
We concluded that Shyla had been disadvantaged because the lender did not consider all the transactions during their initial investigation. If the lender had done this, Shyla would have been able to request a chargeback on some of the transactions because they would have been within the 120 days she had to request a chargeback. By the time the lender started their second investigation, the transactions were outside the chargeback rules.
The lender should have been aware that Shyla wanted to dispute more than 12 transactions. She had asked for her account statements so she could check them, and she said there were more transactions than she could fit on the form. However, some fault also lay with Shyla because she did not reply to the lender’s email about transactions she was disputing.
We also concluded that the lender did not have to accept responsibility for transactions which fell outside the chargeback rules. The lender’s terms and conditions, which was the contract between Shyla and the lender, set out that Shyla was responsible for promptly checking her monthly account statements.
The lender did not accept they had done anything wrong, but they offered on a goodwill basis to credit the disputed transactions which were within 133 days of when Shyla first reported her concerns to the lender. The credit totalled around $3,360. The offer was more generous than the timeframe in the chargeback rules.
The lender also offered to refund all interest and fees they had charged on the disputed transactions. This totalled around $1,340.
Shyla accepted the offer in final settlement of her complaint.
Insights for consumers
It is important that cardholders regularly check their account statements and notify the card issuer promptly of any transactions the cardholder is concerned about.
The terms and conditions for credit card accounts usually provide that the cardholder is responsible for checking their account statements. If a cardholder does not check their statements and later identifies a transaction which they did not authorise, the cardholder may be liable for the transaction.