I just discovered I was billed an order for a few hundreds USD from a merchant that I purchased from a few months ago. It is unauthorised and is obviously a mistake from the merchant. I called up the bank and the customer service officer told me to settle the dispute with the merchant since I have purchased from the merchant in the past. I am confident the dispute will be settled because the merchant is a reputable one and is a listed company.

What made me uncomfortable was this. I asked the customer service officer if I am liable to pay an amount deducted from a merchant whom I have purchased something before even if it is unauthorised. I did not get a satisfactory answer as the customer service officer repeated the same message and told me to contact the merchant. What if the merchant deduct USD10k from my credit card? Am I still liable?

What protection do consumers have against merchants who deduct money from our credit cards by careless mistake? Isn't it dangerous if merchants can get to deduct any amount from our credit cards just because we have bought something from them before in the past?

EDIT: The merchant has refunded the amount back to my credit card. However, I incurred currency losses as a result. I have asked a new question regarding the losses and what can I do about it. Currency conversion losses in credit card bill due to merchant mistakes

  • Is this bogus order for a physical item? postalinspectors.uspis.gov/investigations/MailFraud/…
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 0:49
  • No. It is subscription to certain data service from a listed company. I don't think the company is dishonest. But I am certain the company is plain incompetent to the max.
    – curious
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 7:35

3 Answers 3


There are several piece of information that you left out of your question. If you have a chip card, bought something in person, and used the chip, then a duplicate transaction should be automatically flagged as fraudulent. If you bought something in person with a chip card, but the merchant didn't have a chip reader, then the merchant is liable. If the merchant didn't swipe/read your card at all (e.g. you paid over the internet and gave the CVV2), then the merchant is liable. If you bought something in person, the merchant had a chip reader, but you don't have a chip card, it's a bit more complicated.

Another issue, however, is that you have to first contact the merchant and give them a chance to resolve the issue before you can file a chargeback. This may be what the customer service officer was talking about: they can't start the process on their end until the merchant is given a chance to resolve it.


The bank expects you to at least try to clarify it with the merchant. Once this is unsuccessful, they have to accept your complaint and reverse the charge. As this produces cost and loss of trust for the merchant, any honest merchant is interested to talk with you and clean it up, if it was his fault.



  1. Call the merchant. Record when you called, and the gist of the conversation.
  2. If that doesn't work, email the merchant. Save the email, and any replies.
  3. Do that two or three times.
  4. If that fails, call the bank back.

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