How many times have you opened a statement at the end of the month, only to find a charge that you don’t remember making? It can be a scary and unnerving experience, and you might feel ill-prepared to call the company and dispute the charges. The good news is that you can prepare for this and prevent it from happening again. Gail Cunningham from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling recommends the following steps to help keep you on top of your charges.
Review your statement immediately.
“Open your statement the day it arrives in the mail so that you can promptly address the issue,” Cunningham recommends. “You’d be surprised at how many people come to an NFCC member agency with a grocery sack full of unopened bills. Even better, don’t wait for the bill to arrive, but review your account online once per week.” The sooner you notice the charge, the sooner you can address it!
Keep those receipts.
“Keep all of your receipts and review them against your statement. If there is an inaccurate amount charged or if you see a charge you do not recognize, notify the issuer immediately.” Keeping receipts may be inconvenient, but Cunningham emphasizes how important it is. “Having your receipt obviously verifies the amount charged, so it pays to hang on to those.”
You have consumer protections on your side.
Don’t go into a dispute feeling intimidated. Chances are good that the card representative will already be on your side and ready to help. “One of the benefits of using credit cards is that they come with consumer protections against fraud and unauthorized charges, so you shouldn’t have too much of a fight on your hands when you report it to the issuer. Under federal law, the consumer’s liability is capped at $50, although Visa and MasterCard add a second layer of protection in that they offer zero liability for fraudulent purchases online or off.”
Keep good records.
“Keeping good records and making a timely dispute will play in your favor,” Cunningham asserts. “After all, the issuer wants to keep you as their customer by protecting you against fraud, so they will likely be very willing to work with you.”