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Disputes, charges and fraud – an overview

A dispute arises when a Cardmember notifies American Express about a charge on their statement which they do not recognise, request further information for or challenge.

A chargeback is where after investigation of the dispute we debit your account by the amount of the disputed transaction and credit the Cardmember with the same amount.

Card fraud may be one of the fastest growing crimes, but good old fashioned vigilance is still an effective deterrent. So long as you do your bit, we’ll do our bit.

Let’s take a look at how you can avoid the risk of fraud, reduce the likelihood of a dispute happening, and the main things you should do if a Cardmember initiates one.

Steps you can take to avoid a dispute happening in the first place.

Always:

  • Help the Cardmember recognise the transaction. Provide as much detail as possible (like the hotel room number, for example)
  • Advise Cardmembers of your returns and refunds policy. So they know what to expect if the goods are damaged, or an order is subsequently cancelled
  • Ensure you request an Authorisation Code. Never split a charge to avoid your floor limit, or to avoid authorisation
  • Be especially vigilant with signature Cards. Ensure you check the signature against the one on the Card
  • Check all Cards carefully. Be sure that the Card has not been altered or damaged, and has not expired
  • Ensure your trading name appears correctly on Cardmember statements. This will help Cardmembers recognise your establishment and their transactions with you. To check we hold your correct trading name, call our Merchant Customer Services Team
  • Keep all records of sales and charges. This will help us to explain charges made on Cardmember statements
  • Be suspicious of orders with different delivery and billing addresses, orders for large numbers of identical items, and requests for immediate delivery of expensive items.

If in doubt, call our Merchant Customer Services Team.

What you should do if a dispute arises.

If, despite your best efforts to prevent one, a dispute arises we will attempt to resolve the matter directly with our Cardmember. However, if we are unable to do so we may send you a ‘Request for Information’ letter.

What is a 'Request for Information' letter? It outlines the reason for the dispute and lists the documents we require from you in support of the disputed transaction. Please be sure to respond by the date we ask you to in the letter, either by post, or fax. If we do not hear from you by that date, regretfully, we will have to deduct the amount of the transaction from your Merchant account and close the dispute.

What happens after that? Once we receive your response within the requested timeframe indicated on the letter, we will investigate the dispute, after which we will make a final decision to either:

  • Ask the Cardmember to pay the charge because we consider the information you have supplied to us validated the charge, or
  • Debit your account (chargeback) by the amount of the disputed transaction and credit your customer’s account with the same amount.

Will a 'Request for Information' letter always be sent? In certain circumstances, we make a chargeback without sending a Request for Information letter. One example of this is where Merchants receive a lot of disputes, or conduct transactions in what we consider to be risky business environments.

What about Card Fraud? Provided we have certified all of your terminals for Chip and PIN, and you comply with our Card Acceptance Terms and Conditions, you will not be liable for fraudulent Card present transactions made with lost, stolen, or counterfeit American Express Cards. 

As an American Express Merchant you’ll be reassured to know that we routinely contact our Cardmembers if we spot any unusual activity on their account. However, there are steps we advise our Merchants to take to help us prevent a fraudulent transaction even getting that far.

Accertify Fraud Management.

Accertify Fraud Management is a powerful, yet intuitive e-commerce fraud prevention solution that drives dramatic fraud reduction for large Merchants worldwide. For more information on how your business can utilise Accertify to combat fraud contact us on emea@accertify.com     

You do your bit.

Make sure you and your staff are familiar with our security procedures from day one. If you offer eCommerce to your customers, please ensure your website registration and checkout areas are secure and encrypted. Only dispatch goods to the address at which the Cardmember’s Card is registered and always obtain signed proof of delivery.

We’ll do our bit.

Should you become an American Express Merchant, provided you certify all of your terminals for Chip and PIN with us and you comply with our Card Acceptance Terms and Conditions, you will not be liable for fraudulent Card present transactions made with lost, stolen, or counterfeit American Express Cards.

Together, we’ll challenge fraud.