Chargeback Mitigation PlanDevelop a Plan to Reduce Chargebacks by Identifying Two Key Goals

July 28, 2022 | 9 min read

Chargeback Mitigation Plan

In a Nutshell

This article will explain what you need to know about chargeback mitigation—what it is, why you need it, and when and where to start looking. We’ll also provide you with a basic chargeback mitigation plan to help you fight back and recover from disputes.

In many ways, “chargeback mitigation” is a synonym for “chargeback management.” At least, that’s how it appears at first glance.

The terms are used in slightly different contexts, though. If you’re considering chargeback mitigation, you’re probably trying to stop chargebacks as quickly as possible to avoid breaching your chargeback limit. The question: where do you start?

What is a Chargeback Mitigation Plan?

Chargeback Mitigation

[noun]/* charj • bak • mi • tə • gā • shən • plan/

A chargeback mitigation plan refers to the set of processes and best practices that merchants can implement to decrease the risk of chargebacks in a strategic manner.

When chargeback rates increase to dangerous levels, you can choose to accept the financial loss as a cost of doing business. Or, you can try to develop a strategy to lower that rate, recover lost revenue, and prevent ongoing chargebacks.

The purpose of a chargeback mitigation plan is simple. You want to proactively counter chargebacks and challenge illegitimate transaction disputes to stem financial losses. The plan is meant to illustrate, in plain language, how you can go about doing that.

When Do You Need Chargeback Mitigation?

Just about every merchant could benefit from a chargeback mitigation plan. Codifying your chargeback strategy can help prevent future disputes. For some merchants, though, chargebacks are already a significant liability. That’s the point at which a plan becomes a necessity.

If your business is already at the point where a mitigation plan is mandated, you have no time to lose. You need to get on top of the situation as quickly as possible. The key indicator is your chargeback rate, or the number of chargebacks you receive per month as a share of transactions.

If you’re already seeing a high chargeback rate, you could be in immediate danger. When chargeback issuances spike, card networks and acquirers typically demand a formal mitigation plan outlining steps to lessen the risk of further chargebacks.

How Your Chargeback Threshold Affects Chargeback Mitigation

To better understand why it’s essential to have a chargeback reduction plan in place, you must consider how your chargeback threshold affects your business.

A chargeback threshold is a formal chargeback limit set by a card network. Each network will have its own rules regarding chargebacks. For example, they’ll outline how many disputes you are allowed to have in a single month, and how long you have to correct issues before disciplinary action is necessary.

The card networks all have their own methods for calculating and reacting to breached chargeback thresholds. If you exceed one of these limits, you may experience higher chargeback fees and penalties. Failing that, your account services may be suspended or canceled altogether.

Let’s look at Visa, for example. They require banks to track chargeback activity and flag merchants who breach these thresholds. If you violate the chargeback threshold, you might enter the corresponding tier in the Visa Dispute Monitoring Program (VDMP):

Program Monthly Threshold
VDMP Early Warning 0.65% chargeback ratio and 75 chargebacks
VDMP Standard 0.9% chargeback ratio and 100 chargebacks
VDMP Excessive 1.8% chargeback ratio and 1,000 chargebacks

Being in the VDMP will mean higher chargeback fees, costly review fees, and restrictions on your activity. If you’re unable to address the problem and exit the VDMP in a timely manner, your bank account could be frozen, or you may lose processing privileges altogether.

How a Chargeback Mitigation Strategy Can Help

When executed effectively, the outcome of chargeback mitigation should produce some or all of the following benefits:

  • Increased profits
  • Recovered revenue
  • Decreased costs
  • Greater sales conversions
  • Fewer declines
  • Improved customer retention
  • Enhanced brand reputation
  • Stronger industry relations
  • Reeducated consumers
  • Sustainable growth and longevity

If you want to quickly reduce chargeback issuances and stop them from happening over the long term, though, you need a plan.

Aside from this just being a good idea in general, if you receive a lot of chargebacks regularly, your bank may require this as a condition for continued service. In that case, your bank will expect to see how you propose to handle the situation before they decide to keep working with you. So, developing a good mitigation plan could determine whether you’ll be able to accept payments in the future.

What Should a Chargeback Mitigation Plan Entail?

It’s hard to say. The truth is that every industry and every business deals with different and unique challenges. You must customize your chargeback mitigation efforts to address the most applicable threats and circumstances.

For instance, a comprehensive chargeback mitigation plan might focus on:

  • Identifying valid transactions and decreasing false positives.
  • Lowering the acceptance of unauthorized transactions.
  • Identifying the source of each chargeback.
  • Eliminating preventable chargeback triggers, like merchant errors.
  • Challenging illegitimate chargebacks.
  • Improving industry relationships.
Obviously, the more of these tasks your plan can accomplish, the better. But, there will probably be some goals which you need to prioritize for rapid chargeback reduction.

All that said, coming up with an effective chargeback mitigation plan can be challenging if you don’t know where to start. Let us help you with that.

Chargeback mitigation means more than just alerts.


Crafting a Chargeback Mitigation Plan

There are two key components to a chargeback mitigation plan: proactive (i.e. chargeback prevention and reactive (representment).

You’re basically creating a blueprint for responding and reacting to chargebacks in a way that will help keep your chargeback rate as low as possible. Both facets of chargeback mitigation play a vital role in the process. They also call for different technologies, tools, and expertise.

Key Goal 1

Short-Term Reactive:
Focus on Fighting Chargebacks

The very first step of your mitigation plan should be, in effect, triage. You need to stop the financial bleeding. The way to do this is by fighting back against illegitimate chargebacks through a process called representment.

Chargeback representment is a powerful tool you can use to contest illegitimate chargebacks and potentially win a reversal. In broad terms, representment refers to the process of fighting a chargeback. You literally “re-present” the transaction to the bank and card network, along with evidence to support your claim.

Merchants like you lose billions of dollars every year to chargeback abuse. However, representment will let you recover some of that money that is rightfully yours. Keep in mind, though: chargeback representment is not a cheap option, and it’s not a long-term solution.

Representment is important, but it won’t stop you from receiving chargebacks. That’s why the second key element of a good chargeback mitigation strategy is to prevent chargebacks from happening in the first place.

Key Goal 2

Long Term:
Eliminate Chargeback Triggers

The most critical element of chargeback prevention is identifying where your chargebacks come from.

Card network reason codes can be of some help. But, as a rule, they seldom present a whole or accurate picture of the situation. If you don’t identify the true source of all chargebacks, you’ll implement inefficient strategies that treat symptoms instead of solving problems.

It’s crucial to understand that, on a fundamental level, all chargebacks originate from one of three sources:

Chargeback Mitigation Plan


Unauthorized transactions that constitute criminal fraud

Chargeback Mitigation Plan


Unidentified errors and oversights on your part

Chargeback Mitigation Plan


Illegitimate or invalid chargeback requests, (called friendly fraud)

Many potential chargeback triggers exist within each of those three sources. Effectively addressing all three sources requires a multi-tiered approach that includes insightful human forensics and specialized analytic tools.

Such a strategy will almost always be composed of different elements. Here are some of the most commonly-deployed tools and techniques:

Anti-fraud technologies

Things like AVS, CVV, 3D Secure, blacklists, velocity checks, and more, all of which help reduce the risk of unauthorized transactions.

Learn more about anti-fraud technologies

Fraud filters

Tools that analyze transactions, looking for known characteristics of fraud, and provide simple numeric scoring for relative fraud risk.

Learn more about fraud filters

Chargeback alerts

This allows merchants to refund transaction disputes that would otherwise escalate into chargebacks.

Learn more about chargeback alerts

A Merchant Compliance Review

Used to analyze and rectify internal errors, procedural shortcomings, and policy missteps that often lead to chargebacks.

Learn more about Merchant Compliance

Remember: you can prevent virtually all chargebacks caused by merchant error or criminal fraud. However, cases of friendly fraud, representing 40-60% of all chargebacks, are much more difficult to avoid. While representment will help you recover many of those cases, it isn’t likely that you’ll win them all.

Consequently, most merchants have neither the resources nor the expertise to build winning representment cases. Therefore, turning to professional assistance as part of an overall chargeback mitigation plan can ensure greater success while reallocating valuable resources to revenue-generating departments.

Need Help Developing Your Mitigation Plan?

You may feel a chargeback mitigation plan is unnecessary if you’re not currently experiencing an excessive number of chargebacks. You don’t realize that chargeback rates can spike at any time. Or that, by the time they do, it may already be too late.

From the network or acquirer's point of view, increased chargeback rates equal increased risk. They’re not likely to consider your specific circumstances. Whenever perceived risk increases, immediate action will be taken to reduce liability.

Even if you do not feel your business is especially vulnerable, creating and implementing a plan that produces measurable results is vital. Chargebacks911 can help you develop an actionable chargeback prevention strategy to ensure sustainability.

Our Chargeback Mitigation Plan Advising provides a strategy to not only keep you in business, but allow your organization to thrive by drastically reducing instances of chargebacks and other fraud losses. Contact us today to learn more.

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