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Chargebacks and retrievals can happen for a number of reasons, not all of them related to fraud. But they can cost your business money – so it’s important to know what they are, how to respond to them and how to protect your business from potential losses if they do happen.
This page includes lots of helpful tips and advice on protecting your business and minimising future chargebacks. There’s also specific guidance for online, mail order and phone payments, as well as hotel, restaurant and point of sale based business transactions.
A retrieval request, also known as a Request for Information (RFI), is raised by a credit card issuer when a cardholder disputes a transaction on their statement. This usually occurs when they don't recognise the transaction and need more information to work out whether they made it, or if it was fraudulent or unauthorised.
Under the Card Scheme regulations, you must provide detailed information on a transaction if you receive a retrieval request. If you don't respond in time, it may become a chargeback.
You should ensure that we receive your response and any supporting proof relating to the transaction within 14 days of the date of the retrieval request.
A chargeback happens when a transaction you've initially received payment for is subsequently rejected by the cardholder or issuer and debited back from you.
There are a number of common reasons why chargebacks occur:
From the date of the chargeback request, you’ll have 14 days to respond to it and provide relevant proof and information. These rules are set and regulated by the Card Scheme.
Barclaycard will do everything possible to defend chargeback requests that we receive on your behalf. However, specific time limits and rules applied to each chargeback, in line with the Card Scheme, greatly influence the actions we are able to take. If the Card Scheme rules were breached, the transaction amount may be charged back to your business and debited from your account. One the other hand, if the transaction wasn't in breach, we may be able to defend the chargeback.
Lots of chargebacks are the result of retrieval requests that aren't actioned correctly. The most important way to prevent chargebacks is to follow the correct payment processing procedures and ensures your staff do too. But the second most important factor is how you respond to retrievals.
Just follow this simple procedure to fulfil all the necessary requirements:
Since time is of the essence in preventing chargebacks, we offer a free service called Faxlink. This has been created to help you receive and respond quickly and directly by fax, whenever you get chargeback and retrieval requests for information. All you need is access to a fax machine and then setting up Faxlink for your business is easy – just give us a call. Faxlink offers you all the following benefits:
If you can't supply a copy of a transaction voucher on request, your business will almost certainly receive a chargeback and funds will be debited from your account. So we strongly recommend that you file all your transaction records as follows:
When you receive a letter notifying you about a chargeback, there'll be a heading and description of what type it is. Together with the advice below, this will help you understand the reasons behind the chargeback, what you should do next, and how to prevent future chargebacks of this nature.
The card issuing business believes the transaction receipt amount was altered without the cardholder's permission.
Ensure that all necessary charges are detailed in the transaction at the point of sale, in the presence of the cardholder. If further charges need to be added, you must create a new transaction and seek the cardholder's permission to process it.
The card issuing business believes the transaction amount is over your business's floor limit and that authorisation wasn't obtained.
We will need proof that authorisation was obtained. If you're unable to supply this, the amount may be debited back. If we have no alternative but to debit you for the amount of the transaction, you may contact the customer direct to see if you can recover the payment by another method.
Obtain authorisation on all transactions over your agreed floor limit, even if a customer is well known to you. This is because the chargeback may be initiated by the issuer, rather than the cardholder. If you need to have your floor limit reviewed, please contact us.
The cardholder has contacted their card issuing business to say that the booking or reservation was cancelled but their account has still been debited.
We usually provide you with a copy of the cardholder's letter, detailing when the booking or reservation was cancelled and a cancellation number if one was given. You will need to respond promptly with your comments and copies of any paperwork relating to the chargeback.
If you don't already have a policy of issuing and recording cancellation numbers, you may want to look into implementing one. This will enable you to check cancellation numbers against your records.
A transaction has been processed to an account that's no longer valid, or the cardholder has cancelled their continuous authority agreement with you and you haven't acted on their instructions.
In this instance, we're required to automatically debit the amount from you. You will then need to contact the customer directly for payment.
To avoid recurrence of this form of chargeback, we recommend you implement the following procedure:
The card issuer believes that you've not checked the card recovery bulletin to see if the card number was listed.
Ensure you check all cards you take payments on, against the bulletin.
The card issuer has been advised by the cardholder that they didn't make or authorise the transaction.
We will need copies of all documentation you have, including invoices and proof of delivery to prove if the transaction was undertaken by the cardholder.
Ensure that you authorise all transactions. However, Barclaycard can't guarantee payment on any mail, phone or online orders where the cardholder is not present at the time of the transaction.
A request for authorisation was declined, but your business continued to process the transaction even though it had been declined.
If authorisation is declined, never split the amount and process separate smaller transactions to get it to go through – this is against your Merchant Member Agreement and could make you liable for the chargeback. Always obtain an alternative means of payment from the customer instead.
The cardholder has contacted their card issuer claiming that merchandise delivered to them was damaged or defective.
Ensure that your merchandise is sent in packaging that's able to withstand the journey. You should also provide contact information for customers to request a replacement, should damage occur.
The card issuing business has initiated a chargeback because a domestic transaction receipt was not deposited in the country where the transaction took place, and was processed with an incorrect transaction country code.
Ensure that all transaction receipts are deposited in the country where the transaction occurred.
The card issuer believes that a single transaction amount was processed more than once, and the cardholder may have the same amount appearing multiple times on their statement.
When you submit transactions for processing, ensure that you're not duplicating transactions that may have already been sent.
The card issuer believes the card had expired when the transaction took place and authorisation wasn't obtained by your business.
We will require proof that the card had not expired when the transaction was processed, or proof that appropriate authorisation was obtained. If you're unable to provide this, we may have to debit the transaction amount from your account. If this happens, we suggest that you attempt to contact your customer directly to try and recover the payment.
To avoid recurrence of this form of chargeback, we recommend implementing the following procedure:
Manually check each card expiry date at the time of the transaction: if it doesn't have a valid date, ask for an alternative payment.
Seek authorisation for all transactions and where possible, contact customers to confirm their card details.
The card issuer believes that a magnetic-stripe transaction was completed, but the service code indicated that the card was invalid and no authorisation was obtained.
Ensure you obtain authorisation for all transactions, and that all cards used for payment through your business carry the Visa, MasterCard, JCB or Maestro symbol.
The card issuing business has rejected the transaction because the card number entered and processed is incorrect. It could be a simple inputting error if it was manually keyed into the PDQ terminal. This could also happen if the card used was not a Visa, MasterCard, JCB or Maestro card.
Authorisation only checks that the card number is a valid combination of digits - it does not guarantee payment. We will contact you and ask for a copy of the transaction to enable us to investigate further, or we may debit you with the transaction amount if we're certain the card number is incorrect. If there's no alternative but to debit the transaction amount from you, you could try contacting the customer directly to try and recover the payment.
To avoid recurrence of this form of chargeback, we recommend implementing the following procedure:
The card issuer believes that the transaction was not processed within the agreed time frames.
We will require proof that the manual voucher was banked within three days or that your electronic terminal was polled within the timeframes below. If you can't provide this, the amount may be charged back to you.
Always advise us immediately of any faults on your terminals and ensure that your staff understand the importance of this too. It's your responsibility to inform of us of faults, as failure to do so can result in chargebacks that we are unable to defend on your behalf. Please make sure that you submit transactions within the designated time limits, which are:
The cardholder has contacted their card issuer to say that they had expected a refund from you but it hasn't been credited to their account.
You will need to provide proof that the refund has been processed, or evidence to show that the cardholder is not entitled to receive it. If you've processed it using a manual refund voucher, please supply us with the Merchant Voucher Summary (MVS) it was banked with. If it's a point of sale refund, please check your day's trading to ensure that your terminal processed the refund – proof of this will be required. Also check your statement to make sure that the amount was debited.
Always ensure that refunds are issued back to the credit or debit card used for the transaction, don't refund by cash or cheque. You should also ensure that such refunds are processed within three working days. Once you have accepted returned goods, please ensure that a refund is processed promptly.
The card issuing business believes that an imprint of the card, either manual or electronic, was not obtained on the transaction receipt and that the transaction was processed without the cardholder's permission.
We will require proof that the transaction was authorised, with a copy of a signed manual voucher or proof of delivery signed by the cardholder.
Always ensure that you process manual payments promptly and keep copies of all transactions in a secure place. Seek authorisation for every transaction to cover yourself.
The card issuer is disputing the validity of the transaction believing it was 'face to face' because a card imprint was obtained or the card as swiped through your terminal but a signature was not obtained.
If correct security checks and procedures haven't been followed and a signature has not been obtained where it was necessary, unless you can prove otherwise, we'll have no option but to debit the amount from you. You may try to contact the customer to obtain a valid payment, but this is not something we are able to help with.
Ensure that all security checks are carried out, and that a signature is obtained and checked against the signature on the back of the card when required. Also make sure your staff fully understand the procedures for these transactions and the importance of following them strictly.
The cardholder has contacted their card issuer stating that goods they ordered have not been received.
We will require proof that the goods have been dispatched and received by the cardholder. If you're unable to provide the required information, we may have no alternative but to debit the amount from your account.
Ensure that goods are never released to a third party, even if they claim to have been sent by the cardholder (for example, a taxi). Wherever possible, ensure that a signature is taken upon delivery.
The cardholder has contacted their card issuing business stating that the goods or services they received weren't the same as described – either on the transaction receipt or other information that was supplied at the time of purchase. They claim to have returned the product or cancelled the service.
Ensure that any information you provide to customers, whether on your website, by mail or on your business premises is clear and accurate. Before a customer commits to purchasing goods or services, ensure that they fully understand what they are buying. If you have to make a substitution, make sure you communicate this to the customer in advance and confirm that they are happy and want to proceed with the purchase. If a customer cancels a service, ensure that their details are removed promptly and that no subsequent transactions are put through on their behalf.
The card issuer believes an error was made by your business when processing the transaction.
When we contact you, we'll advise you exactly what type of processing error has occurred. It could be that a sales voucher was completed instead of a refund slip, or the total figure was unclear and has resulted in the cardholder being debited the wrong amount. We will need your comments and copies of any relevant documents you may have.
Always double check each transaction before processing it and ensure that your employees do the same. If you’re using manual vouchers, make sure the correct slips are being used and that all figures are clear and legible. If you're using a PDQ machine, check that the appropriate refund or sales voucher is being used and the amount, if it's being keyed in, is correct.
The card issuing business has initiated a chargeback because they believe that a self-service terminal transaction exceeded the allowed amount.
Please ensure that any customer-activated terminals are programmed only to take transactions below the value of your agreed limit. Also make sure that any customer-activated terminals are clearly labelled with the maximum transaction value for the customer's benefit.
The card issuer initiates a chargeback when a card is used before its 'valid from date' and authorisation hasn't been obtained.
If you can prove the card used had reached its 'valid from date' or that authorisation had been obtained, we'll try to defend this on your behalf. If you can't provide this proof, we may have to debit the amount back from you. If this happens, we can only suggest that you contact the customer direct to recover the payment if possible.
Always check the valid from date on cards before processing transactions. If a date is not yet valid, ask the cardholder for alternative payment.
The cardholder has contacted their card issuer to say that they've been charged for more transactions than they agreed to.
We'll need proof that more than one transaction was authorised by the cardholder.
Ensure that all transactions processed are authorised by the cardholder and keep copies that will prove this, in case you receive a chargeback.
The nature of your business and the way you accept payments will affect the measures you can take to protect yourself from chargebacks.
For transactions that take place online, by phone, by mail order and in hotels and restaurants, we've put together this specific guidance to help you prevent chargebacks.
Some chargebacks will always be unavoidable, so we can’t guarantee 100% protection. But these guidelines should help you to avoid unnecessary costs and hassle associated with chargebacks.
Mail order transactions attract a higher risk of chargebacks, and are more prone to errors. Because the card or cardholder is not present, chargebacks that arise can be difficult to defend. To help you minimise the risk to your business:
Phone orders are at higher risk of chargebacks because the card or cardholder isn't present and, even if you obtain authorisation, there's no guarantee of payment.
To protect your business from transaction disputes and manual errors, we recommend you:
Ensuring that staff are careful and make relevant checks, and that you store transactional information, will help reduce the impact chargebacks can have on your business.
You can take a range of additional measures to prove authenticity of the card and cardholder:
Restaurants can have a high occurrence of chargebacks, so you need to be prepared and aware of the risks of:
When customers want to split the bill, be careful not to process all charges to the same card, and take the following additional precautions:
If you accept telephone orders for takeaways and other services, it’s wise to implement the following measures:
You should also be aware of the risk of chargebacks from the following scenarios:
If you process transactions for payment without the cardholder being present at the time, there is always a slightly increased risk of error or a future chargeback. Here's some additional guidance for businesses in the hotel industry:
When you’re taking reservations, always obtain the guest's name, address, card number and expiry date and provide a reservation code/number, as well as the following:
Cancellations are a fact of life if you run a hotel, but here are some hints for avoiding additional costs arising from chargebacks:
Sometimes guests make a reservation and then don’t show up. Here’s what you can do in these situations:
When the guest finally checks out, you should always request a signature on the final bill. Without this, we may be unable to defend any chargebacks received at a later date.
You are allowed to estimate the final transaction amount and receive authorisation before the guest checks out, using the following procedure:
Sometimes you may find it more convenient to have printed versions of our guides to handling retrieval requests and chargebacks. This page includes useful download links for you to access at any time.
Simply click on the links below to download printable versions of our handy guides to retrieval requests and chargebacks.
Introduction to Chargebacks and Retrievals PDF (6.32 MB)
Preventing chargebacks in card present transactions PDF (2.72 MB)
Minimise the risk of losing money through chargebacks for:
Lodging or accommodation business PDF (5.70 MB)
Vehicle rental companies PDF (8.66 MB)
Card not present gaming companies PDF (5.32 MB)
Airlines PDF (3.77 MB)
Chargebacks explained PDF (87KB)
Internet Authentication is an industry-wide service designed to help protect your business against online fraud and reduce the likelihood of receiving fraud-related chargebacks.
This page is designed to introduce you to the benefits of Internet Authentication, explain how you can incorporate it into your business, and highlight how the authentication and authorisation procedures work for you and your customers.
Internet Authentication is an industry-wide initiative that allows Visa, MasterCard and Maestro issuers to ask cardholders buying from websites to enter a password to verify that they're the genuine cardholder. This automatically verifies their identity and authenticates the card, so you can accept their payment with confidence.
Internet Authentication can help protect you against online fraud and reduce the likelihood of receiving fraud-related chargebacks. It's a service designed to protect your business from fraudulent payments and allow you to trade online more safely.
Such is the strength of this service that once you've registered and started running Internet Authentication, Visa and MasterCard state that you should not suffer losses for fraudulent Visa or MasterCard transactions, or chargebacks arising when a cardholder denies authorising a payment.
Internet Authentication could save you a lot of money by reducing chargebacks – as well as reducing the time it takes to carry out laborious back office manual checks before accepting Visa, MasterCard or Maestro payments.
Internet Authentication is an automated process that’s designed to be simple and straightforward for you and your customers. Everything you’ll need to know about the payment, authorisation and settlement is explained in the sections below.
Once you’ve implemented Internet Authentication on your website, the process is fully integrated into your usual payment system.