How to dispute a fraudulent charge on your UK credit card

Aug 23, 2020

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Credit card companies have become increasingly sophisticated in ensuring that any charges made on your credit or charge card were actually made by you, as the cardholder. If your last 100 transactions were all made in the U.K. and then all of sudden there’s a convenience store purchase in, say Brazil, you may receive an extra security step to complete. This might be an app notification, a text message or perhaps a phone call.

Or the transaction may just be declined.

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Unfortunately, some fraudulent transactions may make it through all this security and end up being charged to your account. It’s a very good idea to check your credit card statements each and every month for any charges you don’t recognise. If you spot anything that shouldn’t be there, here’s what you can do.

Note that this guide focuses on genuine fraud. If, for example, you are struggling to obtain a refund for a cancelled flight, you can read our guide to chargebacks and other refunds here.

American Express cobranded British Airways cards

American Express, which issues various different cobranded credit and charge cards in the U.K., has an excellent online dispute process. First, click on any individual charge on your online statement list you don’t recognise.

You will see a “Dispute This Charge” option below the charge.

(Image courtesy of American Express)

You then open an online dispute. Amex will encourage you to contact the individual business first, as it may be quicker than going through the Amex process. If it’s your local gym that has charged you for an extra month after you cancelled your membership, by all means, contact the gym first.

If it’s a random company in Russia you’ve never even heard of, go straight to the Amex online dispute.

(Image courtesy of American Express)

In the latter scenario, click “Continue Dispute” and then select a reason for your dispute. This is to separate genuine fraud where someone has someone gained access to your card details (such as an online hacker), versus where you’re in disagreement with a local retailer over something you may have already purchased.

Amex is more concerned with the former than the latter.

(Image courtesy of American Express)

If it’s a charge you don’t recognise, select the first option and you’ll then be asked a follow-up question. Select the last option for genuine fraud.

(Image courtesy of American Express)

Once you’ve answered all the questions, you can either save the answers for a later time or submit the dispute.

(Image courtesy of American Express)

American Express has resolved some disputes immediately after I’ve submitted it and credited the fraudulent amount back into my account instantly. Other disputes have been approved within a few days, in my favour. I have been notified by email of all the details.

You can also call American Express to dispute the charge — each card has a different contact number which you can find here, or check the back of your card. However, I find it much quicker and easier to dispute online rather than calling up.

In my experience, I’ve been very impressed with American Express’ response to fraud transactions.

(Photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy)

Virgin Money cobranded Virgin Atlantic cards

Last year on a night out, my Virgin Atlantic credit card fell out of my wallet. I didn’t realise until I woke up the next morning. Although it was less than 12 hours later, I checked my account and someone had obviously found my card, made as many small tap-and-go purchases as they could with it before I froze the card. Fortunately, it was only about £200 in total.

I was able to freeze the card in the app while Virgin sent me a new one to stop any more charges from being made.

Unfortunately, the Virgin Money website and app doesn’t have the same easy way to lodge a fraudulent charge dispute like American Express does. You will need to call Virgin Money on 0345 850 2330.

(Image courtesy of Virgin Money)

I did this and explained the situation. Though the charges were somewhat my fault (I dropped the card and did not realise until the next day), Virgin Money refunded all of the charges I did not make.

It did take a lengthy phone call to walk through each transaction and confirm individually that it was fraudulent, but I was happy not to be out of pocket.

(Image courtesy of Virgin Money)

If you do realise your card has been lost or stolen, you should freeze the card immediately if you have the app and call the issuer straight away to explain your situation — even if you are abroad.

You want to stop any further charges from being made and raise the problem with the issuer as soon as you can.

(Photo by Josh Gribben for The Points Guy)

Bottom line

As credit card fraud has become more sophisticated, so has credit card issuers’ ability to both monitor it and refund genuinely incorrect charges. I’ve been quite impressed with both American Express and Virgin Money in their ability to quickly cancel these fraudulent transactions and credit the amounts to my account. I would note the process is much quicker with American Express because its website has the technology to do this easily online.

As dull as it is, it’s very important you check your statements each month even if you have set up direct debits and rather not know just how much you spend on Uber Eats or Amazon Prime last month. Your credit card provider can only do so much, especially if you are constantly travelling and/or making online purchases from retailers in international locations.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.