Making purchases online can sometimes be a risky undertaking. You can often find amazing deals (like the kind I love to discover with Slickdeals Deal Alerts). But other times, you can get ripped off. The latter happened to me a few months when I tried to purchase an electronic device as a birthday present for my husband, Donald.
The Case of the Missing Birthday Present
Donald is a bass fisherman. So when I found a great price on a new Hummingbird Fishfinder–one of his favorite brands—the offer was too good to pass up. I was already picturing the smile on his face and my “wife of the year” award before I clicked the “buy now” button.
I placed the order online, paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and began the not-so-fun process of waiting for delivery. (Does anyone else check their delivery tracking status twice a day? Or is that just me?) However, the estimated delivery date came and went, and no package arrived on my doorstep.
Despite the now-established fact that I tend to obsessively track my packages, shipment tracking wasn’t an option with this order. So, I reached out to the merchant.
First, I sent an email, but I didn’t receive a reply. Next, I attempted to call the merchant, but I only reached a pre-recorded message. It was around this point that I realized I had probably made a mistake. And, sure enough, after a little more research, I came to the conclusion that I had been scammed.
My Credit Card Issuer Saved the Day
Once I realized that I was a victim of credit card fraud, I reached out to my card issuer (Chase) right away. I reported the problem and disputed the charge.
From there, the process was easy.
- My card issuer took the details of my dispute over the phone.
- I received reimbursement for the fraudulent charge.
- My card issuer sent me a new credit card (with a new account number) since my former card might have been compromised.
It is important to point out that one of the reasons this process was so easy is because I contacted my card issuer as soon as I became aware of the problem. When it comes to credit card fraud, you can run into problems if you don’t dispute unauthorized or otherwise fraudulent charges in a timely manner.
Why I Was Able to Dispute the Phony Charge
I was able to dispute the fraudulent charge on my credit card account because federal law empowers me to do so. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) protects me (and every other credit card user) in cases of card loss or theft.
Thanks to the FCBA, my liability for fraudulent credit card transactions is capped at $50, as long as I file a dispute within 60 days. But as you can see from my story above, I didn’t even have to pay the $50. All four major credit card networks (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover) have zero-liability policies that protect me when I use their cards.
Credit Cards Protect Me Better Than Debit Cards
Robust fraud protections are one of the key reasons why I favor credit cards over debit cards for purchases. This most-recent experience isn’t the only time someone has stolen money from me online. I also favor paying with a credit card over using a check, since paying with a check left me vulnerable to theft in the past.
If I had used a debit card to pay for my husband’s birthday gift, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the same fraud protections. Yes, I probably would have gotten my money back eventually (thanks to the Electronic Funds Transaction Act). But personal funds from my checking account may have been tied up while my bank investigated the theft.
My Favorite Credit Cards
Aside from fraud protections, I also prefer credit cards because I like free stuff. Some of the rewards credit cards I keep in my wallet offer me cash back and, even better in my opinion, the opportunity to earn free travel.
Best of all, I don’t have to spend extra money or pay any interest to enjoy these perks. I simply use my credit cards to buy the things that I need anyway. Then, I pay off my full statement balance each month to avoid expensive interest fees.
Slick Tip: You have to commit to paying off your credit card balances every month. Otherwise, the interest you pay will offset any rewards you might earn. It’s a credit card management mistake I made before, and have since learned to avoid.
At present, I carry more than a dozen different credit cards. (And I use those cards to maintain a great credit rating, too.) Below are a few of my favorites.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
If you’re considering a new credit card but don’t know where to start, the following guide is a great place to learn how to navigate the process: 6 Simple Steps to Getting Approved for a New Credit Card