Recently I noticed an unfamiliar charge on my Visa bill. I filed a dispute with the credit card company, got a quick refund—and whoops!—realized that I actually had made that purchase. In the parlance of the retail industry, I committed “friendly fraud.” Nearly 80% of merchants say that friendly fraud has increased over the past three years because shopping on mobile apps encourages impulse purchases…items may not arrive until after the credit card bill does…and many merchants issue refunds for smaller amounts without challenging the disputes.

Should I just keep the item…or try to make things right with the vendor? Don’t ignore it, said Lauren Beitelspacher, PhD, associate professor of marketing at Babson College. You are responsible for payment if you keep the purchase.

I contacted the merchant and offered to return the item or be recharged. The merchant declined both—but I felt better having asked. To prevent this going forward, Dr. Beitelspacher suggests…

Review unfamiliar credit card charges with everyone in the household.

If you recognize a charge but did not receive the item, see if it was shipped to an alternate address.

Contact the merchant. Call the merchant’s number on your credit card statement or use an Internet search engine to locate contact information. If you don’t recognize the billing descriptor on your statement, ask the card issuer for help.

Related Articles