American Express Chargeback Reason Code P22: Processing Errors

chargeback reason code p22Merchants who receive a chargeback for a transaction placed with an American Express card may encounter reason code P22, which indicates a transaction that was not processed correctly by the merchant. The actual underlying cause of this chargeback is usually either friendly fraud or merchant error. Merchants who believe they have received an invalid chargeback under reason code P22 may be able to represent the transaction and reverse the chargeback with the right compelling evidence.

What is American Express Chargeback Reason Code P22?

American Express chargeback reason code P22 falls under the “Processing Errors” category. The shorthand description is “Non-Matching Card Number.” This reason code means that the merchant has submitted a transaction with a card account number that does not match the card number used in the original transaction. Chargebacks like this are difficult to fight, as the merchant will only have standing to contest them if American Express erred in identifying the origin of the disputed transaction. For these types of disputes, prevention is the best and most reliable defense.

Under normal circumstances, this chargeback should be easy to avoid. Point-of-sale terminals read the encoded card number directly off the chip or magnetic stripe, and standard authorization procedures will check the card number against the CID and billing address—if a card number is submitted that does not match the one provided by the customer, it should generate an immediate error before the transaction proceeds to completion.

However, when merchants manually key in payment card credentials or skip the important authorization step, it is possible to submit a charge to the wrong account number.

What Scenarios Might Lead to This Chargeback?

Data entry errors or software problems can cause this chargeback. When stored payment credentials are used, it is possible for merchants to pull the wrong file, enter incorrect data, and charge the wrong card. This is also possible when transactions are keyed manually—the merchant might transpose some numbers and charge a valid but unrelated card number.

It would be unusual, but not impossible, to encounter this reason code in a friendly fraud scenario.

Fraudsters usually try to float more plausible and common claims—for instance, that their card was stolen or that the merchant acted unethically--rather than asserting that their unwanted charge was the result of an unfortunate coincidence.

Get the guide, Chargebacks 101: Understanding Chargebacks & Their Root Causes

What are the Important Timeframes?

The acquirer and/or merchant have 20 days to respond to this chargeback after it is filed. No special timeframes apply to the cardholder.

How Can Merchants Fight this Chargeback Code?

If you receive this chargeback falsely or in error and have the right evidence to contest it, you can fight this dispute. Your chargeback response must provide proof of one of the following conditions:

  • If the card number was correct, provide a copy of the card imprint or a copy of the charge record from the terminal that electronically read the card number.
  • If you have already processed a refund for the transaction in question, provide documentation that proves you have credited the cardholder’s account.

How Can Merchants Prevent this Chargeback Code? 

Careful, standardized operational procedures around payment processing should eliminate most of the chances for this type of merchant error to occur. As is often the case with processing error chargebacks, the highest risk is when you’re bypassing regular or automated processes to manually key in a transaction or skip your usual authorization steps for an insistent customer with an uncooperative card. These tips can help you avoid accidentally charging the wrong account number:

  • Use caution when entering handwritten transaction data. If you aren’t sure how it should be ready, try to verify it with the customer.
  • Use secure and consistent protocols for storing and retrieving payment credentials that you keep on file.
  • Always swipe or dip credit cards—don’t use fallback options like manual keying unless it’s an emergency.

About American Express Chargeback Reason Codes

Reason codes are alphanumeric codes that provide the justification for granting a chargeback. Pursuant to the Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974, cardholders have the right to dispute unauthorized or erroneous charges and issuing banks must reverse a disputed transaction of the cardholder’s claim is valid.

When a cardholder contacts their issuing bank to dispute a transaction and receive a chargeback, the dispute is assigned a reason code that most closely matches the substance of the cardholder’s claims. The reason code provides the merchant and other stakeholders in the dispute with a concise explanation for why a chargeback has been granted.

Each card network—Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover—defines and maintains their own unique set of reason codes, which are applied to disputes by the banks that issue credit and debit cards under their brands.

As both a card network and an issuer, American Express specifies 34 reason codes under the categories of Fraud, Authorization, Processing Errors, Card Member Disputes, and Inquiry/Miscellaneous. Each American Express reason code consists of one or more letters, indicating the category, and a number that identifies the specific dispute reason.

Understanding chargeback reason codes is one of the most essential parts of effective chargeback management. Identifying the chargeback reason code and the evidence required to fight it is the first step in chargeback representment, and analyzing your chargeback reason codes can provide you with insights into what types of disputes are causing you the most trouble. With this information, you can determine the root causes of your chargebacks and take action to prevent them from reoccurring.