American Express Saying Cardholders Responsible For Some ‘Unauthorized’ Charges

We recently reported that there seems to be a widespread data breach as a lot of cardholders are seeing unauthorized/fraudulent charges on their cards. If you haven’t already checked your cards for these transactions it’s strongly recommended that you do. Most card issuers are cancelling the current cards, issuing a new card and then refunding the unauthorized charges.

Unfortunately it seems that American Express is not doing the last bit and claiming that these charges are the responsibility of the cardholder  (1, 2, 3, 4). If you dispute the charge a second time, American Express is refunding the charge (1).  I suspect this will be eventually fixed and refunds will be offered after the first dispute once American Express realizes how widespread this problem is.

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Tony
Tony

Folks, please, remember, that you’re not liable or have very small financial responsibility for unauthorized charges according to Fair Credit Billing Act. It’s a Federal Law. AmEx has to investigate every charge according to this law and if they fail – you have a background to sue – if the arbitration binding agreement is signed -to arbitrate. But before you always can go to CFPB and file a complaint. It’s very good tool in your disposal. Good luck!

Saturn
Saturn

I see that some commenters have pointed out what this post overlooks: Customers are using the dispute process when they should be contacting the fraud dept.

The automated system will simply check the basic data of the transaction (online charge) and find nothing wrong with it. Then it will automate the response which holds you responsible.

It’s a good idea to freeze your card, take screenshots of the bad transaction(s) and call/chat to be connected to the fraud department. That time will be better spent than working yourself into a tizzy over here. Amex will remove the charges and tell you that you are not responsible for them. Expect to be issued a new card/number. Recurring charges will still be recognized as such, meaning you don’t have to worry about a monthly subscription or the like.

It would be a good idea to edit this post and make people aware of this. If you have submitted a dispute for an unrecognized charge, start over and file a fraud report instead.

Bill Barry
Bill Barry

Saturn’s comment is spot on. Do not use the standard charge dispute process – you will be declined. You need to contact the fraud department, which can be done via chat. They will refund your purchase.

SamL
SamL

AmEx and other CCCs should be proactive and educate customers about the dispute/fraud distinction. Moreover, whenever it becomes clear that there is a large scale fraud happening (which should be identified within hours at the most) AmEx and other CCCs should proactively flag these obviously fraudulent transactions as fraud and block/cancel them (and give the customer the chance to approve flagged charges as real in cases of false flags). This fraud is days old. They should be on top of it by now. Making everyone go through live phone calls wastes everyone’s time for already and easily identified large scale fraud.

Psjc1eamawcjwfbdf
Psjc1eamawcjwfbdf

Don’t most issuers solve this problem by having an “I did not authorize this transaction” as a dispute category

Josh
Josh

I think that is still different though – I think the “I did not authorize this transaction” field is for transactions where you recognize the merchant and it’s not necessarily fraud, you just didn’t authorize the merchant to make this transaction whether it was a disagreement or a mistake or what have you. US Bank has a similar option in its dispute form, but explicitly states on their website to call in if you have fraud to report.

Josh
Josh

yes a fraud case should close out that # immediately and a new account # and card generated and mailed to you.

Dylan
Dylan

As a funny aside, r/wallstreetbets is trying to figure out where the recent credit card fraud is coming from so they can buy puts on the Financial Institution(s) who are to blame:

https://www.reddit.com/r/wallstreetbets/comments/lqqp0u/crowd_sourcing_dd_there_is_a_massive_payment_card/

Looks like AMEX might be on their radar!

NoLuck

Haha. The Madlads are at it again.

Jacob
Jacob

I tried this a couple of days ago, bought some puts against amex, visa, and chase (kinda figured the backlash would hit all the major credit card companies). No one filled my options. =(

J
J

Amex: you utter geniuses: how difficult is it to not be complete and utter crooks**? I won’t give you my numbers, not gonna make it that easy for you wayyy overpaid incompetents, for wayyy too long, in wayyy too many areas, to which your simple corrections would earn you wayyyyyyyyyyy wayyyyyyy much more money than now.

Is there really not one, I mean one, I mean ONE, member of your execs or upper management who stupidly and criminally incompetently doesn’t know that we great (former.. on the great, the spend/profits aspects which are kinda important to you all if you had a clue, not the technical ‘customer’ aspect, yeah i still am the latter) customers remember and act up these incompetent, stupid, unethical, disgraceful maneuvers of yours’ (all obv) when you all go out of your ways to eff us all?

**source: super successful owner-operator of mutliple businesses who was never so stupid, not for one iota, so incompetent, so crooked to realize that effing my/our customers/suppliers/employees was really not the route to make the most money, nor a successful business…. nor a successful life when all of you low cogs including execs/boards look into your mirrors, obviously, you all don’t/have never had any such skin in the game… ;)))

J
J

**upon

yeah, super-anal in my life’s dedication; rest assured: now covid/prof/dedicated to all of those/us/yours’ who end up in my high acuity unit….

…if you all knew/how we cared and experienced when it went/goes badly, I would hope there wouldn’t be one who are so selfish, so ignorant, so immoral, so un-Christian as to not simply care about anyone else: to not simply wear a mask, distance, think, care, vaccinate…. simply have enough decency to care about those who’ve cared that much for you..

J
J

** explicit: hospital unit

All the blessings to all of you amazings who care, and act thereupon…

AA
AA

It sounds like a lot of people may be using the online “dispute” feature, which is not meant for fraud. Instead, it’s meant for problems with the product or the merchant (item not received, wrong amount, duplicate charge, etc.).

In the event of fraud, you have to go straight to dealing with an agent to report “unauthorized activity.” Then they will issue a replacement card number, refund the fraudulent charges, etc.

J
J

Do you work for amex?

If so, does the ‘dispute’ ‘feature’ entail more documentation/reporting than the ‘straight to agent’? Not implying that it does, honest question.

AA
AA

I don’t work for AMEX, but I have filed both disputes and fraud reports in their respective circumstances—with AMEX and with other issuers. This is all just based on my own experience:

During a dispute (i.e. chargeback), the issuer has usually asked for an explanation of my complaint and the history of my attempts to resolve the dispute with the merchant. I was to provide documentation backing up my side of the story. Then the issuer conducts a review and forwards the complaint to the merchant. The merchant has some time (I think 45 or 60 days or something) to respond. I think depending on the complaint, the issuer sometimes gives a provisional credit while the dispute is pending. For most disputes, I’ve seen them just give me a credit and close the case right away (I imagine they might be eating that cost and not taking the time to investigate). But then again, my disputes have usually been quite obvious and/or small: a duplicate charge, or something for which my evidence was so damming and copious. I usually work it out with the merchant (as one is required to try before filing a dispute).

For a fraud report, I have usually been asked to identify the latest transaction that I approved and which ones I didn’t authorize. Then I’ve often been asked questions like:
• Do you still have the card in your possession?
• Have you given your card to anyone to use?
• Do you know who might have used the card fraudulently?
With fraud, there are also some acknowledgements and statements that I have to sign off on or verbally confirm on a recorded call (if I had called).

But yeah, the main thing to remember is that:
• “Dispute” = Dispute with a merchant (i.e. filing a chargeback)
• “Unauthorized activity/transaction” or lost/stolen card = fraud

JB
JB

For Fraud, DO NOT file as dispute. Call the fraud number. Dispute is meant for when the transaction is with the vendor you actually did business with, but something is wrong (they didn’t send the goods, they double-charged you, that kind of thing).

Dispute goes thru some automated process which submits the dispute to the vendor who has time to reply, (weeks go by). And if they contest the dispute, I’m convinced it’s not even reviewed by a human before being kicked back to you, until you resubmit and escalate it.

Fraud gives you a new CC# and deals with the charges. And they (may) investigate for the purpose of bringing criminal charges.

J
J

Same questions as above; def sounds like ‘no’ in your case, to which I absolutely mean ‘thank you’ for your great post. Much appreciated.

snuggliestbear
snuggliestbear

Not related to the widespread fraud charges in question here, but I had to dispute a different fraudulent charge on my wife’s card today. First I submitted as a disputed charge, but I wasn’t given a new CC number or told I would be getting a replacement card, which I thought was odd. I then chatted with a rep who informed me that the fraud charge dept./process is separate from the disputed charge dept./process and that I wanted the fraud version. From what I know of the situation it appears people want the fraud version and not the disputed charge.

Brad
Brad

This. I had the same thing happen about 6 weeks ago on my wife’s platinum card. Filing a billing dispute got us nowhere but opening a fraud case got the charges reversed.

Gadget - Bank Bonus Geek

Bingo. Disputing a change and reporting it as fraudulent can be two different things. I am not sure about Amex, but some issuers will not allow fraud reports online. Sometimes you have no other choice but to pick up the phone.
William Charles Might want to clarify this in your post… with emphasis on the last paragraph below.

From https://www.americanexpress.com/us/help/dispute-a-charge.html

Important Note: What to do if you suspect fraud

A disputed charge is not the same as a fraudulent charge. At American Express, we work hard to protect you from fraud, but your active involvement plays a very important role. It is a good idea to regularly monitor your online account and statements for unusual activity. If you find a charge for a merchant with whom you did not conduct any business, then the charge could be fraudulent. Credit card fraud happens when someone makes an unauthorized charge with your account, which may happen when a card is out of your possession, lost or stolen. To learn more about the measures we take to help protect your account, as well as the steps you can take to safeguard yourself, visit our Security Center.

If you suspect fraud, please call 1-800-528-4800 immediately and one of our Customer Care Professionals will assist you. And remember, when you use your American Express® Card, you’re not liable for fraudulent purchases.

Cas
Cas

Only unlock cards at the time you use them. Then lock it again.

Matt
Matt

American Express only allows you to freeze cards for maximum durations of 7 days. After those 7 days, American Express will automatically un-freeze the cards. You can, of course, freeze the cards again yourself, but again only for a maximum duration of 7 days. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as just leaving your AMEX card locked until you want to use it (even though it definitely SHOULD be that simple).

WGU
WGU

I don’t know about the primary but I’ve had AU’s cards frozen since 2019.

Mark
Mark

Sorry to hear about everyone’s issue with the coloadtest fraudulent charge. I disputed mine through chat, and the chat person took care of it right away. Maybe that’s the better way to go rather than their dispute page.

Satish
Satish

We need to report it as fraud rather than disputing the transaction. Dispute is when we have some relationship with merchant and they charged incorrect amount or unauthorized amount.

Cohmac
Cohmac

I had an unauthorized Verizon charge on one of my cards a couple months ago (I haven’t been a Verizon customer since years before I opened my first Amex card). I don’t think it was related to this recent breach, but Amex did the same thing. First dispute was returned as “charge is valid, you have to pay.” I submitted a second dispute which was resolved as fraud with the charge removed. The first dispute was closed in 3 days, the second one took over 3 weeks.

Makes me wonder if that’s simply their strategy now. Make the customer submit it twice to discourage either blatantly false claims or situations where the customer failed to recognize what was a valid charge. In any case, it was a lot more frustrating than disputing fraud with Chase, which has always been almost immediately resolved.

Weird thing is Amex never generated a new card number. Either they’re not worried about future fraud, or maybe the account is internally marked as “claimed fraud, we. think it was real, but we gave them the benefit of the doubt one time.”

Slo Jamm
Slo Jamm

You didn’t hear it from me, but Amex Sucks.

Cohmac
Cohmac

After reading more comments here, it seems my mistake was opening a dispute rather than reporting it as fraud. Amex does NOT make it clear that these are two different things. In my mind, fraud is one of many reasons to “dispute” a charge; I can see now why they consider fraud to be different, but it should be made clearer.

The first reason you can select in the dispute process is “I don’t recognize this charge.” Right, fraud arguably falls into that category. All of the other choices have something to do with the vendor not delivering on their end of the transaction. Amex could simply add an option for “this is fraud” and guide you through the fraud reporting process if you select it.

Snorklez
Snorklez

I had two separate cards compromised and so far, one of the disputes has been kicked back to me as “I’m responsible”. Da fuq