Can You Get Sued for Chargeback? Understanding the Legal Consequences

Can you get sued for chargeback? This is a question that I receive all the time from people who are nervous about filing a chargeback on their credit card. The short answer is yes, you can get sued for chargeback, but it typically only happens in certain situations. In this article, we will explore what a chargeback is, when it is appropriate to file one, and what the potential risks are for doing so.

First, let’s define what a chargeback is. A chargeback is a request to reverse a credit card transaction that was made between a customer and a merchant. Chargebacks can be a powerful tool for consumers to protect themselves against fraudulent or unfair transactions, but they can also be a headache for merchants who do not want to lose the money from a sale. While it is always important to understand your rights as a consumer, you should also be aware that there are situations where filing a chargeback could lead to legal action being taken against you.

So when is it appropriate to file a chargeback? The answer can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. In general, it is best to file a chargeback if you believe that you have been the victim of fraud, if the merchant has failed to provide the goods or services that they promised, or if there was a mistake or misunderstanding in the transaction. That being said, if you are unsure about whether or not to file a chargeback, it is always a good idea to consult with a financial advisor or attorney who can provide expert guidance. Ultimately, your goal should be to protect yourself and your financial interests, while also being mindful of the potential risks involved in filing a chargeback.

What is a Chargeback?

A chargeback is a dispute that occurs between a customer and a merchant. It typically arises when a customer notices a transaction on their credit card statement that they don’t recognize or didn’t authorize. The customer then contacts their credit card company to reverse the charge.

Chargebacks are designed to protect consumers from fraudulent or unauthorized transactions. It’s important to note that chargebacks are different from refunds: refunds are issued directly from the merchant to the customer, while chargebacks are initiated from the customer’s credit card company.

  • Chargebacks are mainly associated with credit card payments.
  • Customers can file a chargeback if they believe that a merchant charged them for unauthorized transactions or overcharged them.
  • Chargebacks are usually initiated by the customer’s credit card company, not the customer themselves.

Chargebacks can be a headache for merchants, because they can result in the loss of revenue and additional fees from the payment processors. Furthermore, merchants that receive a high number of chargebacks can face restrictions or lose their ability to accept credit card payments altogether.

What is a Merchant?

In the world of business, a merchant is a person or company that sells products or services to customers. Merchants can operate in physical stores, online marketplaces, or both. They are responsible for providing quality goods and services to their customers in exchange for payment.

  • It is important to note that merchants are not only businesses, but also individuals who sell products or services on a small scale in the online marketplace. For example, a person who sells handmade items on Etsy is considered a merchant.
  • Merchants can accept a variety of payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, electronic payments, and cash. They are required to follow strict regulations and guidelines when it comes to processing payments and protecting customer information.
  • Merchants are also responsible for handling chargeback disputes. A chargeback occurs when a customer disputes a charge on their credit card statement and the transaction is reversed. Merchants must provide evidence that the transaction was legitimate, or risk losing the sale amount plus a fee.

To summarize, a merchant is a person or company that sells products or services to customers in exchange for payment. They are responsible for providing quality goods and services, accepting payment, and handling chargeback disputes to maintain a successful business.

What is the Fair Credit Billing Act?

The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) was passed in 1974 as an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act. Its purpose is to protect consumers from unjust billing practices by creditors and to provide a procedure for resolving billing errors. The act applies to all open-end credit accounts, including credit cards, revolving charge accounts, and overdraft checking accounts. Here are some key provisions of the FCBA that you should know:

Key Provisions of the Fair Credit Billing Act

  • Consumers have 60 days from the date of the billing statement to dispute any billing errors or unauthorized charges.
  • Creditors must acknowledge receipt of the dispute in writing within 30 days and investigate the error within 90 days.
  • If the creditor determines that an error occurred, it must correct the billing statement and refund any finance charges, late fees, or other charges related to the error.

What does the Fair Credit Billing Act have to do with chargebacks?

Chargebacks are a reversal of a credit card transaction that occurs when a cardholder disputes a charge with their bank or credit card issuer. While chargebacks are not explicitly covered by the FCBA, the act provides consumers with certain rights and protections that may be relevant in the context of a chargeback dispute.

For example, if you believe that a charge on your credit card statement is unauthorized or fraudulent, you may be able to dispute the charge under the FCBA. Likewise, if you believe that a merchant has engaged in unfair or deceptive billing practices, such as charging you for goods or services that you did not receive, you may be able to use the FCBA to resolve the dispute.


The Fair Credit Billing Act is an important law that protects consumers from abusive billing practices and provides a mechanism for resolving billing errors. While the act does not specifically address chargebacks, its provisions may be relevant in the context of a chargeback dispute. If you believe that you have been the victim of fraudulent or unauthorized charges, or if you have been charged for goods or services that you did not receive, you should consult with an attorney or financial advisor to determine your rights and options under the law.

Key Provisions of FCBA Explanation
60-day dispute period Consumers have 60 days to dispute any billing errors or unauthorized charges from the date of the billing statement.
30-day acknowledgement Creditors must acknowledge receipt of a dispute in writing within 30 days.
90-day investigation Creditors must investigate any billing errors within 90 days of receiving a dispute.
Correction of errors If a creditor determines that an error occurred, it must correct the billing statement and refund related charges.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

What is the Chargeback Rebuttal Process?

Chargebacks can be a frustrating and costly experience for any business. Once a customer disputes a charge, the business will receive a notification and have the opportunity to fight back with a chargeback rebuttal. This is a process where the merchant must prove that the disputed charge was legitimate and potentially get the chargeback reversed. However, the process can be complicated and time-consuming. Here’s what you need to know about the chargeback rebuttal process.

  • The first step is to collect all the necessary documentation to prove the charge was legitimate. This includes receipts, order forms, customer agreements, and any other relevant information.
  • Next, merchants should review the reason code for the chargeback, which explains why the customer disputed the charge. Understanding the reason code is essential in building a successful rebuttal case.
  • Then, merchants must submit their dispute to the acquiring bank within the allotted time frame, typically within 30 days after receiving the chargeback notification. The bank will then review the evidence provided and make a decision on the chargeback reversal.

It’s important to note that the chargeback rebuttal process can be time-consuming and take several weeks to complete. Merchants must be diligent in providing all the necessary documentation and following up with their acquiring bank regularly.

To give an idea of how complicated the chargeback rebuttal process can be, here’s an example of what a Chargeback Response Form might look like:

Field Response
Transaction Date 10/1/2021
Transaction Amount $100.00
Merchant Name ABC Retailer
Customer Name John Doe
Reason Code Fraudulent Transaction
  • Copy of receipt
  • Copy of order form
  • Customer agreement
  • Shipping confirmation

As you can see, the chargeback rebuttal process requires detailed attention and a thorough understanding of the evidence required to win the case. With careful preparation, merchants can successfully dispute chargebacks and protect their business from fraudulent claims.

What is the Chargeback Arbitration Process?

When a chargeback dispute cannot be resolved through the typical process, the merchant or acquiring bank may request a chargeback arbitration process. This is a more formal and legally binding process that involves a third-party arbitrator called the Cardholder Dispute Resolution Network (CDRN).

  • The merchant and issuer submit evidence and arguments to the CDRN
  • The arbitrator reviews the evidence and makes a decision
  • The decision is final and binding for both parties

The chargeback arbitration process can be expensive for both parties and can take several months to reach a decision. Merchants should carefully consider the strength of their evidence before choosing to pursue chargeback arbitration.

Here is an example of the chargeback arbitration process:

Step Merchant Issuer CDRN
1 Merchant and acquiring bank file a request for arbitration
2 Merchant and acquiring bank submit evidence and arguments to the CDRN Issuer submits evidence and arguments to the CDRN
3 CDRN reviews evidence and makes a decision
4 Merchant and acquiring bank abide by the decision Issuer abides by the decision

Although chargeback arbitration can be a lengthy and costly process, it can be a valuable tool for merchants who believe they have a strong case. The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding and can help resolve a dispute that cannot be settled through the typical chargeback process.

What is the role of credit card issuers in chargebacks?

When it comes to chargebacks, credit card issuers play a crucial role in resolving disputes between customers and merchants. A credit card issuer is a financial institution that issues credit cards to customers and enters into agreements with merchants to allow them to accept credit card payments.

Here are some specific ways that credit card issuers play a role in chargebacks:

  • Mediating disputes: Credit card issuers act as mediators between the customer and the merchant when a chargeback is initiated. They will review all evidence from both parties to determine whether a chargeback should be approved or denied.
  • Protecting customers: Credit card issuers have a vested interest in making sure their customers are protected from fraudulent or unauthorized charges. They will often side with the customer if there is evidence that the merchant did not fulfill their end of the transaction.
  • Enforcing chargeback policies: Each credit card issuer has their own policies for chargebacks, but they all follow similar guidelines set forth by the major credit card companies. Issuers will make sure that both the customer and merchant follow these policies when initiating or disputing a chargeback.

Ultimately, credit card issuers are responsible for making sure that chargebacks are handled fairly and efficiently. They have a duty to their customers to be transparent and thorough in their investigation of each dispute, and to make sure that customers are not unfairly penalized for charges that they did not authorize.


Understanding the role of credit card issuers in chargebacks is important for both customers and merchants who may have to deal with disputes over transactions. By working with the issuer and following their policies, both parties can ensure that the chargeback process is handled in a fair and timely manner.

Reasons for a chargeback

Chargebacks are an unfortunate reality of doing business. They occur when a customer disputes a charge on their credit card and asks for reimbursement from the bank. Chargebacks can happen for various reasons, and it is essential to understand them to prevent them from happening as much as possible. Here are seven reasons why chargebacks occur:

  • Fraudulent transactions: This is when a customer’s credit card is stolen, and someone else makes purchases without their knowledge. The customer will dispute the charges since they did not make the transaction themselves.
  • Goods or services not received: Customers might dispute a charge if they did not receive the products or services they ordered. This can happen due to delays in delivery or shipping mishaps.
  • Products or services not as described: If customers receive products or services that are different from what was advertised, they might dispute the charge.
  • Technical errors: Sometimes, technical glitches can cause customers to be charged multiple times for the same transaction or higher amounts than what was intended.
  • Cancellation policies: If a business has strict cancellation policies, customers may dispute charges when they cancel purchases outside the given timeframe.
  • Misleading advertising: Customers might dispute a charge if they feel they were misled by the business’s advertising or sales tactics.
  • Unrecognized transactions: Sometimes, customers might dispute charges on their credit card they do not recognize, which could happen when a business name on the statement does not match the business name customers remember.

Disputing a chargeback

If a business owner receives a chargeback, they have the opportunity to dispute it. However, it is necessary to have documentation to prove that the charge was legitimate. For instance, if a customer disputes a charge due to a delayed shipment, a business owner could provide proof of shipping and delivery, such as a tracking number. If a customer disputes a charge due to a product not as described, a business owner could provide evidence of product descriptions and photos on their website or social media.

Preventing chargebacks

Chargebacks can be a significant problem for businesses as they can lead to financial losses and damage to a business’s reputation. However, there are steps businesses can take to prevent chargebacks from happening as much as possible. Some of these steps include:

Step Description
Clear product descriptions Provide clear and concise product descriptions and photos to avoid misunderstandings.
Excellent customer service Provide excellent customer service to resolve issues before they escalate to chargebacks.
Easy cancellation policies Having lenient cancellation policies will make customers trust the business more.
Timely delivery Provide accurate information on shipping and delivery dates, and delivering within the given timeframe is essential to prevent dissatisfaction and chargebacks.
Clear business name Ensure that the business name is clear and recognizable to avoid confusion for customers.

By implementing these preventive measures, businesses can reduce the number of chargebacks they receive, which benefits both the business and customers.

Risks for merchants when a chargeback is filed.

If a dispute arises between a customer and a merchant, the customer can file a chargeback with their bank to reverse a transaction. While chargebacks can be a useful tool for customer protection, merchants can also face significant risks when a chargeback is filed against them.

  • Loss of revenue: When a chargeback is initiated, the merchant may lose the revenue from the original sale, plus any related fees.
  • Additional fees: Merchants who experience frequent chargebacks may also face additional fees from their payment processor or bank.
  • Damage to reputation: A high number of chargebacks can lead to negative reviews and damage the merchant’s reputation.

Chargeback fraud

While some chargebacks are legitimate, merchants may also face chargeback fraud. This occurs when a customer initiates a chargeback for a transaction they authorized or received. There are several types of chargeback fraud:

  • Merchant fraud: A merchant may issue chargebacks against a customer without cause.
  • Friendly fraud: A customer initiates a chargeback without attempting to resolve the issue with the merchant.
  • Criminal fraud: A criminal may use stolen payment information to make a purchase and then initiate a chargeback to receive a refund.

Managing chargebacks

To minimize the risks associated with chargebacks, merchants can take several steps:

  • Provide clear product descriptions and terms of service to customers.
  • Respond promptly to customer questions and concerns.
  • Monitor transactions and identify suspicious activity.
  • Adhere to chargeback regulations and guidelines.

Chargeback prevention and mitigation

Merchants can also take steps to prevent and mitigate chargebacks, including:

Prevention Mitigation
Require signatures or proof of delivery for high-value transactions Respond to chargeback notifications promptly
Use fraud detection tools to identify potential fraud Provide evidence that the product or service was delivered as described
Monitor chargeback rates and take action to address issues Negotiate with the issuer to resolve disputes

By taking proactive steps to manage chargebacks, merchants can reduce their risk of experiencing negative impacts to their business.

Instances where a merchant can sue the cardholder for a chargeback.

While it’s common for merchants to assume that the issuing bank or the payment provider sides with the customer, and that chargebacks are almost always in their disadvantage, certain cases may give merchants the right to sue a cardholder. Here are some instances where a merchant may have grounds to sue a customer over a chargeback:

  • The customer made a fraudulent chargeback claim
  • The customer abused the chargeback process
  • The customer violated the merchant’s terms and conditions

In any of the situations listed above, it’s essential for merchants to gather enough information and evidence to support their claim against the cardholder. In most cases, this may involve collecting data from the transaction or purchase, as well as other relevant documents like invoices or email correspondence.

Merchants may also need to make sure that they hire the services of a qualified attorney, who can help them navigate the legal process and take the right steps to file a lawsuit against the customer.

The dispute resolution process for chargebacks

In general, most chargebacks are resolved through a dispute resolution process that involves the issuing bank or the payment provider. During this process, both parties – the merchant and the customer – have an opportunity to present their case and provide evidence that supports their position.

If the issuing bank or payment provider finds in favor of the customer, then the chargeback will be upheld. However, if the merchant can prove that the chargeback claim is invalid or fraudulent, then the payment will be reversed back to the merchant’s account.

How merchants can protect themselves against chargebacks

Merchants can take several measures to protect themselves against chargebacks and fraudulent claims. Here are some of the steps they can take:

  • Provide clear and detailed product descriptions on their website or online store
  • Maintain accurate inventory records and order tracking systems
  • Implement a secure payment gateway that verifies cardholder information and reduces the risk of fraud
  • Consider using a chargeback prevention service that can identify and prevent fraudulent transactions before they occur
Chargeback reason codes Description
Chargeback reason code 30 Services not provided or merchandise not received
Chargeback reason code 41 Canceled recurring transactions
Chargeback reason code 53 Not as described or defective merchandise
Chargeback reason code 83 Duplicate processing
Chargeback reason code 85 Credit not processed

By taking these measures and being diligent about managing their transactions, merchants can reduce the number of chargebacks they receive and protect themselves against fraud and the risks associated with chargebacks.

What can cardholders do to avoid chargebacks?

Chargebacks are a hassle for both merchants and cardholders. However, there are steps cardholders can take to avoid chargebacks and protect their interests.

Here are 10 things cardholders can do to avoid chargebacks:

  • Check bank statements regularly to ensure that all charges are correct and accounted for.
  • Keep receipts and order confirmations in case you need to reference them.
  • Contact the merchant first if there is a problem with a product or service. Many disputes can be resolved directly with the merchant without involving the bank.
  • Read the merchant’s return, refund, and cancellation policies before making a purchase.
  • Be clear on the terms and conditions of a subscription service before signing up or canceling.
  • Use caution when making purchases from unfamiliar or new merchants.
  • Verify the amount charged against the amount of the transaction receipt.
  • Monitor transaction history closely to detect suspicious activity and promptly report it to your bank.
  • Use secure payment channels that provide additional protection, such as PayPal.
  • Finally, if a chargeback becomes necessary, provide as much documentation as possible to substantiate your claim.


While chargebacks can be a pain for cardholders and merchants alike, following these tips can help cardholders avoid them. By taking an active role in monitoring transactions, communicating with merchants, and keeping detailed records, cardholders can protect their financial interests and avoid unnecessary disputes.

Tip Summary
Check bank statements regularly Ensure all charges are correct
Keep receipts and order confirmations Useful for reference if necessary
Contact the merchant first Many disputes can be resolved without involving the bank
Read the merchant’s policies Be clear on return, refund, and cancellation policies
Understand subscription terms Ensure clear on the terms and conditions before signing up or canceling
Be cautious with unfamiliar merchants Use caution when making purchases from new or unfamiliar merchants
Verify charged amount Confirm amount charged matches transaction receipt
Monitor transaction history Check for suspicious activity and report promptly to bank
Use secure payment channels Ensure secure payment channels are used, such as PayPal
Provide documentation if necessary If a chargeback is necessary, provide all necessary documentation to substantiate claim

Can You Get Sued for Chargeback?

Q: What is a chargeback?
A: A chargeback is a dispute process initiated by a cardholder’s bank. It allows the cardholder to request a refund from a merchant if there is a problem with a transaction.

Q: Can merchants sue customers for initiating a chargeback?
A: Yes, a merchant can sue a customer for initiating a chargeback, but it is rare.

Q: What grounds can a merchant sue a customer for a chargeback?
A: A merchant can sue a customer if they believe the chargeback was fraudulent, the customer breached the terms of the sale, or if the chargeback caused financial damages to the merchant.

Q: Is it legal for a merchant to sue a customer for a chargeback?
A: Yes, it is legal for a merchant to sue a customer for a chargeback, but it can be difficult for the merchant to prove their case in court.

Q: Can a merchant collect additional fees from a customer who initiates a chargeback?
A: No, a merchant cannot charge additional fees to a customer who initiates a chargeback. Doing so would be a violation of the merchant service agreement.

Q: What should I do if I am sued for a chargeback?
A: If you are sued for a chargeback, it is best to consult with a lawyer. They can help you understand the legal options you have.

Q: How can I avoid being sued for a chargeback?
A: To avoid being sued for a chargeback, always ensure that you follow the terms of the sale and communicate any issues with the merchant before initiating a chargeback.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope this article helped you understand whether or not you can get sued for a chargeback. Remember, while it is possible for a merchant to sue a customer over a chargeback, it is rare. To avoid any potential legal trouble, make sure to communicate with the merchant and follow the terms of the sale. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back for more helpful articles.