Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When Credit Cards are Disputed

When you set up shop and allow for payments via debit and credit
cards, there are numerous advantages- including spontaneous shoppers,
and people who will buy more when they can put it on a credit card,
but there are also a few disadvantages as well. One issue many
retailers discover when they first start accepting credit cards is not
only will they be responsible for paying the various fees associated
with accepting credit or debit cards as payment, but accepting credit
cards means you also have to deal with the occasional credit card

One common dispute will result in what's called a charge back. Credit
card charge backs happen when a customer disputes a charge made on
their credit card, and your bank transfers the liability to you and
requires that you pay the money back. There are two main reasons why a
charge back occurs-

Poor Customer Service

If a cardholder decides to dispute a transaction they find on their
credit card statement because they say the card has been stolen or
someone used the card without their permission, then the retailer is
responsible to recover that money. The cardholder's credit card will
be refunded and the retailer is out the money from that sale.

If your company is not providing quality customer service, a customer
may not receive their ordered items or they might receive defective
items- in which case they're going to dispute the purchase and you
will be required to pay that money back when the bank submits the
charge back to your business bank account.

There are many levels of protection provided to retailers who accept
credit cards as payment. Technology provides us with a secure online
environment that encrypts the credit card details and personal
information of the cardholder as it's transmitted over the internet.
Technology also provides various card verification methods that ensure
that the person submitting the order has the card in hand- and
hopefully, they're the owner of the credit card account.

Unfortunately though, there is no fool proof protection to avoid all
types of credit card fraud, and a customer can submit a charge back up
to six months after the date of purchase.

To minimize the number of charge backs you get hit with, be sure your
online shopping cart or website takes the necessary steps to verify
the identity of the person placing the order. There are many different
ways to try and avoid fraudulent activity online, including address
verification, security code checking and for internet transactions-
you can use Verified by Visa and MasterCard's SecureCode.

Another step you can take to minimize the number of charge backs you
receive is to ensure that you are providing high levels of customer
service. Make sure each customer is getting the items they order, and
use processes that ensure that only quality items are being shipped.
Take time to make sure items are shipped in proper packaging as well,
to minimize damages that could occur during transit of orders.

For in person transactions, you can help minimize the charge backs by
requiring that customers sign their receipt and having your cashiers
actually take the time to compare the signature with the signature on
the back of the card. You may be surprised at the number of retailers
that skip this step! If the signatures match, the customer will not be
able to submit a dispute that results in a charge back at a later
date, so it's well worth the extra thirty seconds or so to compare the
signatures. If the cashier doesn't believe the signature's match, he
or she can require that the customer use another form of payment.

Disputing Credit Card Charges

Disputing Credit Card Charges
Let's imagine for a moment that you've just received your credit card
bill in the mail, and you think the only purchase you made with it the
previous month was at the gas station. What do you do then, when you
find three purchases at Old Navy, and a bunch of other purchases you
know you didn't make?

Do you know what rights you have regarding fraudulent purchases on a
credit card in your name? How about your rights if you purchased an
item with a credit card, but never received the products you ordered?

If these problems have not happened to you yet, you are lucky. These
are common situations credit card users face every day, and it can
help you to know before something like this happens to you what your
rights are, and what your responsibilities are in the matter.

When You Are Not Satisfied With Purchase

One of the benefits of using a credit card to make purchases is the
additional protection they provide if you make a purchase that you are
unsatisfied with. For example, maybe you used a credit card to pay
the contractors who were hired to repair your shower leak, but there
is still water on the bathroom floor. Obviously, you are not
satisfied with the work they completed, and you don't want to pay for
it. The problem is, you charged it on a credit card and now the bill
has come!

Your first step is to contact the contractor, or the merchant you made
your purchase from. Most of the time, the merchant is more than happy
to replace a broken item, perform the service again or refund the
purchase back to your credit card. If you make a phone call, document
it and follow up with a letter to cover your tracks in the event the
merchant doesn't follow through.

If for some reason the merchant decides they are not going to do
anything to correct the situation, you should immediately contact your
credit card company and report the information. Don't wait to report
the problem on a later date- most credit card companies require you to
report a problem as soon as you see it on the statement in order to
benefit from any of the protection they provide.

Charges You Didn't Make

Did you know that federal law is involved in helping limit credit
cardholder's responsibilities for charges on credit cards that they
did not make themselves? The Fair Credit Billing Act actually limits
your responsibility to just $50 for any charges you did not authorize.
If you open your credit card bill and find charges not made by you,
there is a process you should follow to get it resolved as quickly and
painlessly as possible.

Firstly, call the credit card company and explain the charges that
were not made by you. They will give you instructions as to what to
do next.

Then, you should take the time to find and review all of your recent
credit card statements in case there were other charges that you may
have missed.

The credit card company will most likely ask you to sign a form to
confirm that you were not the one who made the charges in dispute.
Don't use the card while you are disputing charges.

Once you finally get a resolution and get the charges removed, be sure
to order your credit report from all of the major credit bureaus in
order to make sure that the record has been updated there- because
chances are the time it takes to resolve fraudulent charges will have
caused late payments on that credit card that may have been reported.

You can get more information about credit card disputes from the Fair
Trade Commission,

The New Business Owners Guide to Accepting Online Payments

by: Debbie Dragon

As more people decide to try and increase their income by starting
online businesses, there is a greater number of individuals who
require methods of accepting online payments. It's necessary that an
online business appears professional, so potential consumers have the
confidence to trust and buy from them, and it's equally necessary that
the credit cards can be accepted over a secure connection.

Online business owners have a number of options for accepting online
payments, from PayPal to ProPay to a standard merchant account. While
it may be easier initially to go with a third party payment processor
like PayPal or ProPay, you may find the long term benefits of having a
merchant account worth the additional effort to get one set up right
from the start of your online business venture.

Benefits of having a merchant account with your new online business include:

Ability to accept the major credit cards that most everyone has in
their wallets: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Not
only can you accept the credit card versions of these cards, but
you'll also be able to accept debit card payments from the millions of
American's with debit cards containing the Visa or MasterCard logo,
since they are treated just like credit cards.

Ability to obtain payments from your customers right from your website
over a secure connection, instantly. Online businesses that attempt to
accept payment by mailed check or money order will never achieve the
same level of success as a website that can accept payments instantly
online with credit cards. Customers will simply close your site and
find a website offering the same product or service that WILL take
credit card as payment – shopping online means customers want to pay
online and not wait for the mail to deliver their payment before the
transaction takes place.

Customers recognize businesses that accept credit cards as having a
higher level of professionalism and credibility.

Ability to receive your online payments transferred to your own bank
account by automatic wire transfer – quickly, securely, and with the
same level of security that your customers experience during the
purchasing process.

Ease of bookkeeping management thanks to reports and statements of
transactions made through your online merchant account and payment
processing system. May even reduce the need for a bookkeeper on staff.

Ability to use software that is included with your merchant account
for online businesses to quickly and easily set up price lists for
products and shopping carts on your website. This makes maintaining
your site a breeze for you, and the shopping experience intuitive to
your website shoppers.

If you should take your online business off the web at any point – to
a flea market or vendor event, for example, you can often rent a
terminal to accept credit card payments in person, manually. Some
merchant accounts include terminals as part of your monthly fee, and
if you feel your online business will have many vendor events, it may
be in your best interest to look for that service as part of your
merchant account to save money.

Reasonable processing fees. Merchant accounts have lower fees than
services like PayPal – which means you have a better profit margin.
Some merchant accounts have monthly fees with very low per-transaction
fees, and include a large variety of value added services that are
simply not offered as part of third party payment processing systems,
like PayPal.

Online businesses often operate globally. Your merchant account will
help you accept payments in a number of different currencies in order
to extend your reach to a greater number of potential customers.

Chargeback fraud is an increasing concern for online retailers, where
people buy something online with credit and then report the purchase
as fraud. As the retailer, your account will get deducted the amount
of that purchase and the product has still been delivered and you're
out that money! Merchant accounts can help you avoid chargebacks with
their fraud screening services, which is included in your monthly fee.

Beware of Financial Profiling

by: Janna Weiss

Imagine having your credit limit lowered because you've been seeing a
marriage counselor and charging the fees to your credit card. Imagine
your loan application getting rejected because you work for a mortgage
lender or a home construction company. Imagine, through no fault of
your own, getting hit with a monthly spending limit on your credit
card just because you shop at the same stores as people who have poor
credit habits.
Welcome to the world of financial profiling.

John and Monica Bell from Chadds Ford, PA, use their American Express
card regularly. They charge about $5,000 a month, but always pay the
balance in full. You can imagine their surprise when they opened a
letter from the card company that advised them of a new $1,100 monthly
spending limit. The Bells didn't do anything wrong. They simply fell
victim to financial profiling.

The idea of profiling is nothing new; after all, lenders already look
at our debt load and credit history before they decide to loan us
money. Those figures paint a picture of our credit-worthiness and the
risk involved if they let us borrow.

But the Bells and many others are being penalized for spending habits
that they have not displayed. Instead, American Express looked at the
places where the Bells do business and decided that, since other AmEx
customers with similar buying patterns had defaulted on their
payments, the Bells were at risk of doing so as well.

Specifically, John and Monica have a mortgage through Countrywide
Financial Corp., a company, now owned by Bank of America, whose name
is associated with the mortgage crisis. Because other AmEx customers
borrowed irresponsibly and defaulted on their payments, it was assumed
that the Bells might do the same.

American Express spokesman Michael O'Neill acknowledges that people's
spending habits are taken into consideration, especially when they
appear to be similar to the habits of problem customers. While those
similarities alone aren't enough to justify a spending limit, says
O'Neill, "If they're spending in a way that looks like a pattern of
other people who had credit trouble before them, it gets added into
the mix."

Why are credit card companies holding their customers responsible for
other people's behavior? Because of the credit crisis. Banks and
lenders are scared to loan money to anyone, including each other. With
record amounts of defaulted loans on one side, and no access to
borrowed funds on the other side, many banks have found themselves
between a rock and a hard place – and their customers feel the pinch
as they get declined for loans and watch their credit limits plummet.

In some cases, the profiling has gone too far. CompuCredit started
slashing credit limits on customers who sought marriage or personal
counseling, patronized bars and pool halls, or paid for tire retreads
and automobile repairs. They also failed to disclose this new
profiling system to their card holders, resulting in a law suit by the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In today's credit climate, CompuCredit and American Express aren't the
only companies looking for reasons to lower people's limits. Watch
your own credit limits carefully, and call your card issuer to ask
about any changes that you don't understand. If they won't reinstate
your limit even though you've been a good customer, it might be time
to take your business elsewhere.

Small Business Owners Find it Hard to Stay Afloat

by: Janna Weiss

In these troubled economic times, it seems that everyone is feeling
the pain of the credit crunch. From the working class all the way to
the national government, people are finding it hard to obtain loans
that were readily available as recently as last year. Amid the
rhetoric about Wall Street and Main Street, one class of people is
largely overlooked: small business owners.
For businesses to thrive, they need financing. Small business owners
and entrepreneurs have it rough. Every business entails start-up
costs. Plus, there has to be enough money to keep the business afloat
until it attains profitability – which can take years. With banks and
lenders shutting their doors to everyone with less than stellar
credit, what can small business owners do to make ends meet?

For many, it's a balancing act to stay on top of personal finances and
business costs. With an unprecedented number of small business loans
getting declined – the Small Business Administration approved 28,000
fewer loans in 2008 – owners are tapping their savings and retirement
funds and maxing out their credit cards just to keep their dream

Sadly, some of these dreams are currently on life support and fading
fast. Skyrocketing food and fuel prices have made business ownership a
costly endeavor. Financing is scarce, customers are making fewer
purchases, and those who do buy from small businesses are having a
tougher time paying up. Last year, it took an average of 30 to 60 days
for a small business to receive payment. Now the average is 120 days.
Says Tony Wilkinson, president of the National Association of
Government Guaranteed Lenders: "I've been at this since 1980, and I've
never seen it this bad."

Credit cards, especially those designed for small business owners,
fill in the financing gaps. But the credit crisis has brought with it
higher fees and lower spending limits, making this method of financing
less economical than before. Home equity is also in a slump.

Some business owners turn to private lenders for their loans. If your
business is industry-specific, you might be able to find a private
lender willing to back your venture. You could also explore equity
financing, giving up some of your interest in the company in exchange
for money. Relatives are another good source for financing. They're
usually more generous and less stringent about your repayment terms.

To secure funding from any source, you'll need a great business plan.
Sell your idea and back it up with hard data. Explain why the business
is a good idea, and draw up a timeline for your profitability. When
lenders see that you've done your research, they will be more likely
to take a risk and invest in your venture.

Small businesses employ 116 million workers and crank out half of the
U.S. gross domestic product, according to the Commerce Department. If
they fail, our whole nation will experience the fallout. Here's to
brighter a financial future for us all.

Working with Banks Articles

Working with Banks Articles
It's important to be well educated about working with banks before
applying for credit or making any other major financial decision. In
our education center we will inform you how to act when working with
banks. We publish new credit card articles weekly so be sure to check
back often.

How to Reduce Marketing Offers from Bank of America Companies
If you're a Bank of America account holder, you might be getting more
marketing offers than you know what to do with. This article explains
how to opt out of mail and phone offers that you don't want to

The New Business Owners Guide to Accepting Online Payments
As more people decide to try and increase their income by starting
online businesses, there is a greater number of individuals who
require methods of accepting online payments. It's necessary that an
online business appears professional, so potential consumers have the
confidence to trust and buy from them, and it's equally necessary that
the credit cards can be accepted over a secure connection.

Beware of Financial Profiling
Can your credit limit get slashed because of your spending habits?
What about other people's spending habits? This article examines the
trend of financial profiling and how it can affect your credit.

Small Business Owners Find it Hard to Stay Afloat
Imagine having a great idea for a small business, only to be denied
for the loan that would finance your venture. That's what small
business owners are experiencing. Here's a look at the struggles they
face and how financing can be secured.

When Credit Cards are Disputed
When you set up shop and allow for payments via debit and credit
cards, there are numerous advantages- including spontaneous shoppers,
and people who will buy more when they can put it on a credit card,
but there are also a few disadvantages as well.

Disputing Credit Card Charges
Let's imagine for a moment that you've just received your credit card
bill in the mail, and you think the only purchase you made with it the
previous month was at the gas station. What do you do then, when you
find three purchases at Old Navy, and a bunch of other purchases you
know you didn't make?

How to Reduce Marketing Offers from Bank of America Companies

How to Reduce Marketing Offers from Bank of America Companies
by: Janna Weiss

Is your mailbox bulging with "pre-approved" credit card offers? Have
you received calls from telemarketers hawking low interest home loans?
Maybe you've received unsolicited insurance quotes over e-mail. Where
are these offers coming from? If you've got an account with Bank of
America, you need look no further for the culprit.
Bank of America recently sent out a notice to its account holders. It
contains instructions for limiting unsolicited marketing from Bank of
America companies. With just a few simple steps, customers can
drastically reduce the amount of marketing they receive via mail,
telephone, and the Internet.

First, call 1-800-282-2884. You'll be connected to an agent who will
ask for your account number and some personally identifying
information. Once you've verified that you are the account holder, you
will be asked to supply the phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail
addresses that you wish to remove from their marketing lists.

The limited marketing will take effect on October 1st, 2008. Every
point of contact that you remove will stop receiving marketing
promotions for five years. When this period nears an end, Bank of
America will send out a notification so that customers can opt to
limit their marketing for a further five years.

Note that this doesn't stop direct marketing offers from businesses
you hold an account with. To stop receiving offers from Bank of
America credit cards, call the number on the back of your card and ask
to opt out of all promotional letters, balance transfer offers, and
pre-screened credit card marketing.

Banks and credit card companies are notorious for sharing your
personal information with their affiliate companies. When your
financial records and credit score get passed around, you'll start
receiving letters and calls urging you to accept credit cards you've
already been approved for.

But these phone calls and mailings are misleading. You cannot be
pre-approved for a card you didn't apply for. The truth is that these
companies obtained your personal information and, based on what they
saw, decided to offer you a credit card. Some offers even contain
actual cards that can be activated with a simple phone call. This can
lead to big problems if someone steals your mail. (Identity theft,

To learn more about Bank of America's privacy policy and marketing
practices, go to the Bank of America web site. You can also opt out of
pre-screened credit offers by entering your information at

You can thank the Federal Reserve for laying down rules and forcing
banks to comply - rules that include telling customers about their
right to refuse marketing offers from Bank of America affiliates.
Hopefully other banks will follow suit, and our inboxes and mailboxes
will once again have room for messages we actually want.