Q&A: What to do if merchant details on card statement are unfamiliar

Do some research to figure out charges before disputing them, and, of course, save receipts

The Credit Guy columnist Todd Ossenfort
Todd Ossenfort has been chief operating officer for Pioneer Credit Counseling since 1998. He writes our weekly "The Credit Guy" column, answering reader questions about credit counseling and debt issues.

Ask a question.
Question

Dear Credit Guy
I am sometimes annoyed by the vendor information posted on my statement. Recently I used my credit card to buy some items from Advance Auto Parts. On my statement, it had an approximation of my hometown and the word “CRESUS.”

How is anyone going to check their credit card statements with inaccurate entries like that? Do I complain to my bank? The company? – David

Answer

Dear David,
I understand your frustration and applaud your diligence in checking your credit card statements for accuracy. While you could complain to the bank or even the company, I’m not sure it would do much good.

Many companies set up their merchant accounts with the credit card companies under another name; most often, this is the parent company, but that is not always the case.

Usually a Google search is a good way to check this, but I didn’t have any luck when I tried to search “Advance Auto Parts” and “CRESUS.” One thing to note is that credit card statements in general don’t give vendors much space to describe their company. Even though CRESUS doesn’t make much sense, it does take up less space than Advance Auto Parts on the page, and that could be one explanation.

The importance of keeping receipts, tracking expenses
You aren’t disputing the charge since you were able to figure it out. This is probably because you either had your original receipt or you knew the amount of the charge.

This is the very best way to be sure that all of your charges are legitimate. But even the most meticulous of us lose receipts, so it’s not a fool-proof method.

There are many expense-tracking tools that can help in this area, from the latest in smartphone apps to old-fashioned pencil and paper.

I do recommend some form of tracking, especially for those expenses that are paid for in cash. As your question points out, it is also useful for credit and debit card purchases.

When you can't pin down a charge
It is of course your right to dispute a charge, but it is best to try to figure out the charges on your credit card statements before you decide to file a dispute.

Disputes, or chargebacks as they are known to the companies involved, are time-consuming and sometimes involve quite a bit of paperwork on your part.

Consumers should always dispute charges that they truly do not recognize, but doing a bit of investigation on your own is a good idea before taking this step.

Chargebacks are not good for the companies involved, either. Although I told you in the beginning that calling the company might not work, this is one area that might get their attention.

A call or even a letter to the company to suggest a better description on credit card statements in order to avoid chargebacks just might get their attention, because it might save them money in the long run.

Take care of your credit!

See related: 6 tips to getting a credit card chargeback8 tips for merchants to avoid credit card chargebacks,

Meet CreditCards.com's reader Q&A experts

Does a personal finance problem have you worried? Monday through Saturday, CreditCards.com's Q&A experts answer questions from readers. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.




 

 


Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.




Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.


Updated: 11-20-2017