Business Finance

How to Fight Chargebacks

By Cassi Matthews
Feb 13, 2015 • 3 min read
Table of Contents

      The goal of this article is to inform you and your team on what steps you can take to cover your bases when it comes to chargebacks. Education and documentation are essential. It only takes a few operational practices to ensure you’ve got the documentation you need to fight chargebacks and win!

      For starters, what exactly is a chargeback and why do they occur?

      Chargebacks were first implemented to protect consumers against fraud and dishonest merchants. When a consumer files a chargeback with their bank their money is returned to their account and taken out of the merchant’s account until the merchant can provide evidence that the transaction was valid.

      If the bank sides with the consumer they get their money back, and the merchant loses that money, has to pay chargeback fees, and potentially is out the goods or services from that transaction.

      There are numerous reasons for consumers to file chargebacks which is why credit card companies have created different codes for each of them.  These are the most common chargeback reason codes:

      Dispute of Transaction – Fraud

      MasterCard 4837 – No Cardholder Authorization

      Visa 83 – Fraudulent Transaction – Card Absent Environment

      MasterCard 4863 – Cardholder Does not Recognize – Potential Fraud

      Visa 75 – Cardholder Does not Recognize Transaction


      Dispute of Goods – Non Fraud

      MasterCard 4853 – Cardholder Dispute – Defective/Not as Described

      Visa 30 – Services not Provided or Merchandise Not Received

      MasterCard 4841 – Cancelled Recurring Transaction

      Visa 41 – Cancelled Recurring Transaction

      MasterCard 4860 – Credit Not Processed

      Visa 85 – Credit Not Processed

      MasterCard 4834 – Duplicate Processing

      Visa 82 – Duplicate Processing


      Why should you care?

      As a business owner it is imperative that you address chargebacks. It is also imperative to be aware of your chargeback back ratio and remain below 1%.  This number can be calculated by taking the number of chargebacks you have gotten and divide it by the number of transactions that you have had during that same time period

      Chargeback Ratio=  # of chargebacks in a given time#of transactions for that same time

      If your ratio is above 1% your merchant account can be shut down and you will be added to the MATCH list, which ultimately makes it impossible for you to get another merchant account.

      How to protect your business from chargebacks

      By incorporating a few loss prevention and operational procedures into the management of your business you will be prepared to fight chargebacks. Below are some recommendations that will protect you against the most common reason codes.

      Steps to take before accepting credit card transactions:

      • Craft a recognizable descriptor, aka the verbiage that appears on a customer’s bank statements.
      • Be accurate, truthful, and forthcoming in all product descriptions
      • Train all employees on proper transaction handling, return policies, customer service, and loss prevention tactics.

      What to Collect:

      • All imprints or swiped sales receipts signed by the card holder
        • Evidence that a credit was issued
          • If a credit is not issued provide a detailed explanation why.
      • Proof
        • Proof of delivery signed by the card holder.
        • Address verification, AVS
        • Positive match on CVV (AKA the 3 digit code on the back of the card)
      • A statement that the cardholder neither returned, or attempted to return the merchandise.

      Smart Merchant Time Saver Tips

      • Save credit card receipts in dated envelopes for 6 months; use banker boxes with the month clearly labeled on the outside.
      • If your point of sale register is down be sure to take a manual imprint of all credit cards that you manually entered and have the customer sign the manual receipt.
      • Keep your manual receipt imprinter and carbon copy receipt paper in a secure location.
      • Be diligent, up-front, and consistent in communicating your return policy.
      • Wait to charge customers until the service has been provided or merchandise has been shipped.
      • Promptly remove customers from recurring billing cycles as soon as they cancel your services.

      Chargebacks are an inevitable part of business, but you can make the representment process a lot simpler by being prepared and educating yourself and your staff. Good luck!

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      Cassi Matthews
      About the author
      Cassi Matthews

      Cassi Matthews is a marketing manager and analyst at  Her experience in retail operations make her articles pertaining to card present and card-not-present businesses palatable, educational, and relatable to small business owners.

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