By Cheryl Duclos and Mali Lim New Bedford LCP

How often do you check your credit card and bank statements?

Unwanted charges and debits — monthly fees for a gym membership you thought you had cancelled, for example, or automatic payments for a product that was supposedly a “seven-day free trial” — can only be reversed if you report the charges promptly.

Each card network and issuing bank sets its own time limits for disputing charges, but U.S. law sets a minimum time limit of 60 days.

In most cases, unless there is fraud involved, you may have only three to five months from when a charge appears on your statement to dispute it with your bank or credit card company.

Additionally, banks and credit card issuers will often limit the amount of money you can recover to just losses within the last two or three months, even if the charges have been happening for a longer period of time.

Your first move in disputing a charge should be to contact the merchant because you might be able to get a refund or find some other resolution without involving the credit card issuer.

If that fails, or you believe fraud was involved, contact your credit card issuer.

Remember to:

  • Check your credit card agreement to review your rights regarding unauthorized charges.
  • Read your monthly statements and act on unauthorized charges right away.

The New Bedford Local Consumer Program is here to provide you with tools and information to be an informed, empowered consumer. Increase your knowledge about consumer laws and to help safeguard against fraud and online scams by contacting the LCP at (508) 979-1693.

The New Bedford Local Consumer Program works in cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office to assist consumers in Southeastern Mass. Contact the LCP at (508) 979-1693 or at