Paying bills is something that no one looks forward to doing. It’s one of those things we just want to get out of the way. So we often look at how much is owed, write a check or pay online, and forget about it. But when it comes to credit card bills, that’s not such a good strategy.
Credit card statements detail each and every charge we’ve made since the last statement. That doesn’t make for a very exciting read, but it is an important one. If you don’t carefully go over the charges on your bill, you could end up paying more than you actually owe.
Here are some of the things to look for on your statements:Watch for charges that you didn’t authorize. If your card is not with you at all times, someone could have used it without your permission. And even if you haven’t lost your card, someone could have fraudulently obtained and used your card number.Compare each charge with the corresponding receipt. Mistakes happen, and you could have been charged an incorrect amount.Look for double charges. Equipment malfunctions or cashier errors can cause a charge to go through twice. Unscrupulous employees or companies may also make duplicate charges on purpose.Review charges imposed by the creditor, such as interest, fees and credit insurance. If you see anything suspicious, check the cardholder agreement to make sure the charge is legitimate.
If You Find a MistakeWhen you find an error on your credit card statement, it’s important to report it quickly. If it’s the result of fraud, notifying the creditor can prevent further misuse. And in any case, cardholders must act within a reasonable amount of time in order to be protected by law.
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) states that cardholders must report billing errors in writing within 60 days from the date the first statement containing said error was mailed. If they do so, the creditor must either correct the mistake or prove that the charge is legitimate within two billing cycles. If the charges were not authorized by the cardholder, he may be held liable for no more than the first $50.
A phone call to your creditor can be helpful if you have questions about a particular charge. And in the case of unauthorized charges, a customer service representative can tell you if other charges have been made since the statement was prepared. But if there is an error, notifying the card issuer in writing is a must. Otherwise, you may have no legal recourse if they refuse to make a correction.
Checking your credit card bill doesn’t take long. If you keep your receipts organized, you can verify the charges in just a few minutes. And those few minutes could potentially save you a great deal of money.
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