If you have a credit card, chances are you’ll experience credit card fraud at some point in your life. In fact, a survey by ACI Worldwide that 46% of Americans have experienced credit card fraud between 2012 and 2016 alone.

Credit card fraud can be a scary experience; thieves can run up thousands of dollars in charges under your name, leaving you with a hefty credit card balance.

Thankfully, credit cards offer some protections against fraudulent activity. If you find unauthorized charges on your account, you can likely get them removed from your account if you act quickly. Below, learn how to dispute a charge and how you could have it removed from your account.

How To Dispute a Charge on Your Credit Card in 6 Steps

While dealing with unauthorized charges can be stressful and frustrating, it’s usually very easy to resolve. Just follow these six steps to dispute a charge on your credit card.

1. Monitor your account

Get in the habit of reviewing your credit card statement regularly. While it may sound boring, actually read each line of your bill and look for inaccuracies or any other red flags. For example, perhaps there’s a store listed that you never shop at, or a larger amount than you normally spend. If you see anything that doesn’t make sense, highlight the day and time of the charge.

2. Determine if the charge is fraudulent

Before taking any further action, check with your family members and authorized card users to ensure they didn’t make the charge in question. If a cardholder or authorized user made the charge, you’re not able to dispute it, even if you didn’t give your permission for that use.

If no one in your household is responsible for the transaction, then you can move forward with disputing the charge.

3. Reach out to the retailer

In some cases, you can resolve the issue just by contacting the retailer, rather than the credit card company. It’s a good idea to contact the retailer if there’s a billing error. For example, if you were double-charged for a purchase, the retailer can refund you for the extra charge. If at all possible, working with the retailer is preferable, as your current credit card account will remain open.

If it’s a charge you didn’t make at all — for example, if a thief used your card to buy merchandise in another state — you should proceed with it as a fraudulent charge, not just a retailer mistake.

4. Contact your card issuer

Under federal law, your liability for unauthorized charges is very limited. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, your liability for fraudulent charges is just $50 in some cases. However, many credit card companies offer $0 liability protection, meaning you’re not responsible for any fraudulent charges made.

If there’s a fraudulent charge on your account, it’s time to escalate the issue to your credit card company.

To do so, call the credit card company using the number on the back of your card as soon as you notice the charge. Most credit card companies offer 24-hour service lines just for these types of emergencies.

When you reach a representative, explain that you found an unauthorized charge on your statement. Tell them the amount of the charge and the day it was made. The customer service representative will flag that charge, then will review recent transactions with you to see if there is any other fraudulent activity going on.

Once this process is complete, the representative will remove the charges from your statement, cancel the credit card, and issue you a replacement card in the mail.

woman at laptop disputing a credit card charge

5. Review your results

After reporting the fraudulent charges, you’re not responsible for repaying them. The credit card company will send you a letter in the mail detailing what charges were removed from your account. Review this letter carefully to ensure all fraudulent charges were removed. If you think the credit card company missed a transaction, contact customer service again and explain which charges were unauthorized.

6. Update your autopayments

It can take several days to receive the replacement credit card, which will have a completely different number, expiration date, and security code than your old card. Once it arrives, make sure you update any autopayments that were synced to your previous credit card number. Otherwise, you risk falling behind on your payments and damaging your credit score.

Protecting Your Credit

Credit card fraud is unfortunately very common in the United States. If it happens to you, it’s important that you don’t panic. If you review your statements regularly, you can catch fraudulent activity and contact your credit card company before serious harm is done. By doing so, you can ensure those charges are removed from your account, and you won’t end up on the hook for unauthorized charges.