Last year I realized I was making a huge mistake and it cost me dearly. I’d become complacent checking my credit card statements and was a victim of fraud. The sad and embarrassing part is that I let it go on for months without ever realizing it. I was debating even writing this post because I felt like such an idiot. However, if sharing my story about why you should check your credit card statements can help at least one person, then a little bit of a wounded ego is worth it.
Every month, my credit card statement would arrive in the mail like clockwork. I’d quickly do a five second scan and put it in the bill folder to be paid.
One day I decided to see if there was any way I could cut back on unnecessary costs. I took my last credit card statement to see what recurring charges were on there. I noticed Xbox charges and this other weird abbreviation that was showing up for a few months. I had assumed it was for John’s online games because I’d let him use my card to buy a membership for a couple of his games. I asked him about them and he said he hadn’t been playing them in a few months and was not using my card.
A sickening feeling hit me in the gut. I knew something wasn’t right.
I googled the abbreviation and discovered it was for an online dating site! I asked John if that was him charging my card and he said no way. I don’t think he would be that dumb anyways, but I had to ask.
I called my credit card company and was transferred to someone in the fraud department. We ran through my last couple statements and found a number of these Xbox charges and the online dating site. They were able to take the majority of them off, but I was stuck paying for a few of them because I didn’t report it in time. They were under $10 each, but still. I knew it was my fault for ASSUMING it was all ok. Obviously I was 100% wrong.
They cancelled my card immediately and sent me a new one in the mail. I had to go through the whole rigmarole again of setting up my pre-authorized payments. I use my credit card to pay for a lot of my blogging expenses online. What a pain!
Since then, I’ve been made a complete 180 when it comes to keep tabs on my credit card statments. I check each and every transaction carefully. I don’t even wait for the statement anymore – I go online and check it through my online banking.
Check your Credit Card Statements Carefully Each Month
I learned the hard way what it’s like to be a victim of fraud. I have a few tips to share from what I’ve learned from my personal experience. Hopefully something like this never happens to you. Catching it right away is the key!
1. Remember it’s up to YOU to check your credit card statement and report any discrepancies. Your credit card company doesn’t know that isn’t you subscribing to the online dating site! Even if you aren’t sure because the name is some weird abbreviation, it’s best to call them and ask. It can’t hurt to ask and at least then you’ll know for future payments.
2. Ensure the payments you’ve made have been applied to your account. I write down the date I paid, the amount and the confirmation number. I cross-reference to make sure my payment shows up on my bill.
3. Make your credit payment on time even if you only make the minimum payment. Some credit card companies will increase your interest rate if you are late x number of times. Read your contract to find out if yours has this clause in there. Mine does!
4. Check the fees on your bill. I keep my card paid off so I never have to pay interest. I still look to make sure I didn’t accidentally get dinged with interest or fees that shouldn’t be there.
This experience was a big wake-up call. It forced me to become more organized and in control of my finances. Credit card thieves will not be able to pull a fast one on me now. I’m careful and know exactly what should be on my statement and will spot a discrepancy right away. It’s sad that it took an experirence like this to get me to open my eyes and see the importance of checking your credit card statements.
Have you ever been a victim of credit card fraud?