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
Ask a 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
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.
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!
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.
- Q&A: Four ways to pay off high-interest credit card debt – Options to reduce high-interest card debt include debt settlement, hardship programs and balance transfers ...
- When is the right time to ask for a credit-limit increase? – Considering asking for a credit-limit increase just a few months after opening a card? Not so fast. It can backfire and hurt your credit ...
- Two 'safe' ways to build credit using cards – The right credit card can help you build strong credit. Either piggybacking or going solo, responsible cardholder behavior is key ...