There Will Be No Unauthorized Charges or Fees On My Watch - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

There Will Be No Unauthorized Charges or Fees On My Watch

When I got my first credit card back in 1999, I made a habit of saving every receipt from my credit card transactions in my wallet until my statement came in. At that point, I would double-check my statement against my receipts, using a highlighter to cross off each charge. Once I had done all that, I'd write a check for the full amount of the statement, mail off my payment, and place the receipts in the envelope with the rest of the statement and file the whole thing. The entire exercise would actually be something I'd look forward to doing.

On reflection, I think I now have the answer to the question of why I didn't go on too many dates in college.

While I no longer check each and every receipt against my statements, I do look through the charges on our credit card at least twice a month to make sure I recognize everything on there. (Those are the days when I bother J at work to breathlessly demand "Did you spend $63.47 on PayPal last week?" only to later realize that I was the one who made a $63.47 purchase that I completely forgot about. On reflection, I think I now have the answer to the question of why J doesn't necessarily sound thrilled to hear from me when I call him at work).

Apparently, despite the fact that I drive myself and my family crazy with this habit, I'm apparently saving us from potential scams. According to NPR, there are scammers out there making off with $9.84 in fraudulent credit card charges, assuming that no one will notice such a small charge. Even if you are paying attention, $9.84 is a small enough amount that you don't worry about it. And co-owners of joint credit cards are each likely to assume that the other was the one responsible for the less-than-$10 charge.

Clearly, these scammers have never met one of my ilk! They do not realize that there are those who read bank statements for funsies and who see no issue with interrupting an important engineer in the middle of engineering something (yeah, I don't have a great sense of what it is that J does all day) in order to double check  an unfamiliar charge.

I also know that I'm not alone in channeling my inner accountant on bill-paying day. (Although I probably am the only one who throws confetti and releases balloons to celebrate bill-paying day).

My dear friend and talented comedian Ken Schultz recently had to dispute an unauthorized charge on his statement--but in his case, the charge was coming from inside the bank!

He was kind enough to create a hilarious vlog about his experience:

Have you ever had to dispute a fraudulent or heck-if-we-know charge? (Or have you ever disputed a charge that you later realized was legitimate, like I have done on more occasions than I would care to admit to?)



haverwench said:

Oh yes, this has certainly happened to me. One time a charity double-charged me for the same $75 donation (what, did they think I decided to donate $75 twice in the space of one minute, rather than donating $150 all at once)? I've also seen ongoing monthly charges for subscriptions that I had canceled. It's a hassle having to dispute them with the credit card company, but at least it works. (I actually do still check the statement against my receipts to make sure all the charges are accurate--though I throw out the receipts when I'm done.)

What's much more difficult is when you have to dispute a charge *from* the credit card company. Like the time that Bank of America charged me interest and a penalty on a bill that *they had never sent.* When I called them up to complain, their response was, "Well, even if you didn't get the bill, you're still responsible for paying it on time." (I had to look up the Fair Credit Billing Act to confirm that this is emphatically not true.) Then they offered to remove half the penalty "as a courtesy." I grudgingly accepted, but then I filed complaints with the FTC and the Better Business Bureau, which eventually resulted in my getting the rest of the money back. It would have been a satisfying gesture to cancel the credit card after that, but sadly, it's the oldest card I have, so getting rid of it would ding my credit score. Although now that we no longer have any loans, I'm wondering whether it might be worth it to have Bank of America out of my life for good.

I actually had several minutes of confusion earlier this month over a PayPal charge because of the way PayPal does its accounting. I'd ordered something that cost, say, $24, and my PayPal statement showed that the whole $24 charge had come out of my PayPal account--but then it also showed a charge of $9.50 or so from my credit card. Eventually I figured out that PayPal was showing the $9.50 coming from my credit card *into* the PayPal account, giving me a total of $24 which it then paid out for the purchase. I still think they could have made that clearer.

February 6, 2014 10:44 AM

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