Questions & Answers to help save the day.
A chargeback is a credit or debit card charge that is forcibly reversed by an issuing bank, often necessitating chargeback mitigation and chargeback prevention measures. This typically happens after a cardholder claims a transaction was the result of fraud or abuse, highlighting the importance of fraud protection.
Even the most reputable online businesses will struggle with chargebacks, making payment dispute resolution and dispute management critical. For cardholders, chargebacks act as a shield against criminals or dishonest business practices. For merchants, however, chargebacks can pose a serious threat to revenue and business sustainability, demanding rigorous risk assessment and fraud detection efforts.
One study showed that payment disputes resulting from criminal activity cost merchants an estimated $20 billion in 2021. That’s an 18% increase over 2020, emphasizing the need for payment fraud prevention and robust strategies to handle cardholder disputes.
To cardholders, chargebacks can seem just like traditional refunds, but they involve distinct processes. They’re not, though. That’s the problem. With most refunds, the cardholder is obligated to return whatever was purchased to get their money back. That’s not the case with chargebacks, where the cardholder bypasses the merchant altogether and asks the bank to intervene.
When this happens, the merchant loses the revenue from the sale, and the value of the merchandise. They also lose the value of overhead costs like shipping, fulfillment, and interchange. Finally, the merchant is also forced to pay a fee for every chargeback, underscoring the need for effective chargeback management and payment gateway security.
Consumers tend to use credit and debit cards interchangeably. While there are a lot of similarities between the two, debit cards and credit cards each offer different levels of fraud protection. In cases of credit card fraud, the cardholder’s liability is limited to no more than $50. Because the funds technically belong to the bank, not to the cardholder, the bank may be more invested in trying to recover the money, showcasing the importance of e-commerce fraud prevention and merchant account security.
In the early 1970s—before all the above protections had been put in place—bank credit cards had not yet gained widespread acceptance in the US. Consumers were hesitant to use payment cards due to concerns about fraud and deceptive merchant practices.
The Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974 was an attempt to address these issues by creating chargebacks as we know them today. The chargeback option protected consumers by strictly limiting consumer liability in cases of fraud and giving them the right to fight back against unfair or deceptive merchant practices, illustrating the importance of credit card chargebacks and high-risk merchant solutions.
The federal mandate was designed to help relieve consumer fears, and, for the most part, it worked. Credit card use exploded throughout the US in the 1970s.
A half-century later, chargebacks remain an important consumer protection mechanism… at least, when they’re used as intended. Like we’ll see, however, that isn’t what’s happening.
Let’s look closer at the chargeback process itself, which involves complex steps demanding transaction monitoring, chargeback analysis, and effective chargeback recovery and representment strategies. From the merchant’s perspective, stemming the flow of chargebacks is challenging, at best. There are multiple players and a lot of moving parts. Even worse, transactions can be disputed weeks or months after the actual sale.
The number of steps involved in the chargeback process will vary based on a lot of different factors. That said, here’s a basic rundown of how it works:
The cardholder initiates a dispute by contacting the bank and asking for a refund, kicking off the chargeback process.
This code explains why the consumer is disputing the transaction, necessitating a strong chargeback response strategy.
If the case is considered valid, funds will be removed from the merchant’s bank account and credited to the cardholder, who may see a provisional credit on their account. If the bank feels the case is unwarranted, the dispute will simply be voided, underlining the importance of a well-planned chargeback risk assessment.
Any evidence the acquirer has to counter the chargeback will be submitted on the merchant’s behalf. If no such evidence exists, the bank will pass the chargeback along to the merchant, emphasizing the need for effective chargeback tracking.
If the claim is legitimate, the merchant must accept the loss. However, merchants who believe they can disprove the claim have the right to re-present the chargeback to the issuer, showcasing the importance of robust chargeback fraud solutions.
If the merchant’s evidence refutes the cardholder’s claim, funds that were removed due to the chargeback will go back to the merchant. Any chargeback fees or administrative costs, however, will not be repaid to the merchant. If the merchant's evidence doesn’t refute the cardholder's claim, the transaction amount is permanently moved from the merchant to the cardholder, and the chargeback stands, underscoring the importance of merchant chargeback services and chargeback dispute mediation. It may seem like merchants are basically being judged "guilty until proven innocent" here. In truth, that’s more or less the case, necessitating a firm understanding of chargeback best practices to navigate the process effectively.
Like we said before, though, chargebacks remain an important consumer protection mechanism. It’s just one that has been subverted in such a way that modern merchants are actually becoming the victims, highlighting the importance of comprehensive chargeback prevention and fraud protection.
Today, credit cards are such a ubiquitous part of life that many users don't even realize they have chargeback protection. Those who know about chargebacks often fail to understand what is—and what isn't—a valid credit card chargeback use case, highlighting the importance of chargeback mitigation and chargeback prevention measures.
Of course, there are situations where cardholders have every right to file a chargeback:
For lost or stolen cards, cardholders should contact the bank immediately to prevent additional losses. In almost all other cases, though, the cardholder needs to talk directly to the merchant before calling the bank, necessitating a firm grasp of chargeback best practices.
Most accidents or innocent mistakes can be rectified with a simple call to the merchant. This is better for both parties. The merchant avoids a chargeback, and the cardholder gets their money back much quicker than they would with a chargeback, promoting efficient chargeback tracking.
Chargebacks may have been designed as a form of consumer protection, but industry regulations have not kept pace with payments technology. This allowed chargebacks to become weapons that consumers can use against merchants, demanding a thorough chargeback risk assessment.
The internet and eCommerce have made shopping more convenient than ever. But, at the same time, filing a chargeback is also easier than ever. The anonymity of online transactions makes it difficult to fully validate buyer's claims, requiring chargeback fraud solutions and vigilant chargeback dispute mediation.
Because of chargeback abuse, merchants are now more likely to experience fraud coming from customers than from criminals. Friendly fraud—also called chargeback fraud—refers to situations where customers dispute legitimate charges, necessitating effective friendly fraud prevention.
There are multiple ways a cardholder might file a chargeback inadvertently. For example, if the cardholder:
That last one is highly relevant. Based on what consumers claim at the time of filing, nearly half of all chargebacks are blamed on "unauthorized transactions," showing the need for robust chargeback prevention measures. A survey conducted by Chargebacks911, however, found that 81% of cardholders filed a chargeback simply because they didn't have time to request a refund from the merchant, underscoring the importance of payment fraud prevention.
Friendly fraud is a serious problem, but it's not the only form of chargeback fraud, necessitating thorough chargeback prevention and fraud protection.
Consumers deliberately abuse the chargeback process for a variety of reasons:
Cardholders might think a single incident of chargeback fraud is no big deal. It adds up quickly, though. Chargebacks will cost merchants approximately $117 billion annually by 2023, necessitating effective chargeback mitigation and chargeback prevention.
Chargebacks have both short and long-term ramifications for merchants, underscoring the importance of high-risk merchant solutions.
If the merchant's account is terminated, that business will be placed on the MATCH list. The business is blacklisted, and will be unable to secure a new bank account—even with a different service provider—for at least five years. Their only option will be to secure a high-risk merchant account… if they can get a bank account at all, requiring merchant account security and robust payment gateway security.
While merchants have the right to dispute illegitimate chargebacks, doing so is more difficult than it sounds, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of chargeback best practices and thorough chargeback process knowledge. Merchants rarely win DIY chargeback responses; according to our data, the average net recovery rate for chargebacks is just 12%, emphasizing the need for effective chargeback fraud solutions.
Merchants aren't the only ones who will suffer due to illegitimate chargebacks and friendly fraud. In the end, consumers may pay a price as well, emphasizing the importance of chargeback prevention and fraud protection:
For long-term change, both merchants and consumers need to be educated on chargeback protocols and best practices, highlighting the importance of chargeback prevention and fraud protection. Both parties also need to accept responsibility for their actions in the process, underscoring the need for efficient dispute management and fraud detection.
Cardholders must remember that credit card chargebacks should only be filed in extreme situations. Chargebacks are a last resort; they should never be the first action to take when seeking a refund, requiring clear chargeback response strategies.
Also, more than one party may be responsible for a dispute. When this happens, the bank may issue a partial chargeback, giving the cardholder their money back for the portion of the transaction to which they're believed to be entitled, necessitating effective chargeback dispute mediation and comprehensive chargeback tracking.
For their part, merchants must work to reduce the risk of chargebacks, both legitimate and illegitimate, demanding chargeback mitigation and efficient chargeback recovery strategies. Seeing a drop in friendly fraud may simply require providing prompt, transparent, and attentive customer service, highlighting the importance of payment fraud prevention.
The right prevention tools will help, too. Implementing fraud detection strategies will enable merchants to identify more fraud incidents before they happen, underscoring the importance of risk assessment and chargeback analysis.
Finally, fighting invalid chargebacks is a must for merchants. It helps educate consumers about the proper use of chargebacks. Plus, banks issue fewer claims against businesses that regularly contest illegitimate cases, emphasizing the importance of chargeback prevention and efficient chargeback management.
With proper education and action, merchants and consumers can see a decline in the number of fraudulent chargeback claims, both now and in the future, promoting comprehensive chargeback risk assessment and clear chargeback best practices.