What is a charge back?
Charge backs occur when a credit cardholder informs the credit card company that the charge was not authorized, or that goods or services were not delivered as promised. The chargeback mechanism exists primarily for consumer protection.
A consumer may initiate a chargeback by contacting their issuing bank, and filing a substantiated complaint regarding one or more debit items on their credit card statement.
Charge backs are the consumer's last line of defense against unscrupulous merchants. The threat of forced reversal of funds provides merchants with added incentive to provide quality products, helpful customer service, and timely refunds as appropriate. Charge backs also provide a means for reversal of unauthorized transfers due to identity theft.
When a chargeback is initiated, the card issuing financial institution will investigate the dispute, and will charge back the value of the original transaction directly from the merchant account processor, which is obligated under card network rules to pay the card issuer. The merchant's processor will then attempt to recover an equal value of the chargeback plus a processing fee from the merchant's bank account.
Charge backs can be overturned if the merchant can prove the transaction was legitimate, or goods and services have been rendered to a customer claiming otherwise.
To protect against charge backs, merchants should list the DBA their customers are familiar with on the cardholder statements and make sure the customer fully understands the products, costs, and timing of delivery.