Canada | Fraud

Does a credit card charge look suspicious to you? Here’s what to do

Before calling your bank, do your own due diligence—and make sure you have gathered the info you need to back up your claim

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Couple looking at bill, holding credit card and talking on phone If you have reviewed the transaction and are ready to dispute it, banks generally recommend that you first contact the merchant (Getty Images/Simon Potter)

Ever looked at your credit card statement and been taken aback by a charge that doesn’t ring any bells or doesn’t look quite right? If so, you might want to dispute it. 

Here are some general tips to keep in mind. 


Before calling the bank, it helps to do your own review; after all, there might be a simple reason why you don’t recognize a charge. CIBC recommends you use a checklist:

  • If the amount charged doesn’t look right, check your receipts.
  • If the date seems off, remember that transactions are sometimes posted a few days late. (TD adds that transactions may sometimes temporarily show under Pending and Posted at the same time. But as it points out, this has no effect on your current balance or available credit.) 
  • If you don’t know the merchant name, remember that names can vary on statements.
  • If the location looks unfamiliar, remember that merchants often have processing centres in other cities. 
  • If you can’t remember dealing with that merchant, it’s worth noting that hotels or car rental companies apply delayed or amended charges.
  • If you signed up for a trial offer, check the terms. 
  • If you have an authorized user, remember that their charges will appear in your online account.

If, after reviewing the transaction, you suspect fraud, notify the bank immediately.


If you have reviewed the transaction and are ready to dispute it, banks generally recommend that you first contact the merchant. As TD Bank explains, many customers are able to work out their disputes directly by speaking to a sales clerk or store manager and providing them with receipts and any other documentation they have. “Often, [the merchant] can correct the mistake and resolve the issue and/or give you a refund,” it says. 

Remember to document your interaction with the merchant. As CIBC points put, this would include the date, time, subject of the conversation, a reference number (if available), and any email correspondence. “This information will be used to investigate the dispute,” it says. 


If you are unable to resolve the issue with the merchant, you should call your bank so that it can conduct an investigation. But don’t delay; with TD and CIBC, for example, you must notify them within 30 days of the statement date. In the meantime, you should keep paying your bill. As CIBC points out, “Since it may take a few weeks to investigate the dispute, you want to avoid incurring interest charges. If the dispute is successful, you will be refunded.”


Different kinds of disputes might take different amounts of time to resolve. For example, TD Bank says fraud disputes may take approximately seven to 10 business days, while merchant disputes may take up to 90 days. But once a resolution has been found, you may be reimbursed or refunded.


Canadians are increasingly worried about fraud and identity theft, according to CPA Canada’s 2019 fraud survey. To find out more about how to safeguard yourself, see Protecting you and your money: A guide to avoiding identity theft and fraud.