When you receive your credit card, bank, or store card account statements each month, be sure to take a moment and go through them.
Take a look at each line item charge and be sure you recognize each one and that the amount is reasonable.
If you see a charge or debit that you don’t recognize, check with your family members who may have either initiated the charge or will recognize what the charge is. It’s not uncommon for some of us to forget something we purchased 30 days ago.
And don’t overlook the small charges either. A common tactic of the professional credit card thief is to make a very small charge on someone’s card to see if the card works and to see if it gets noticed. If the small charge works, then they may come back with a larger charge.
Be especially watchful of charged items with generic names or descriptions too. Fraudsters like to use friendly, generic names such as “Internet Add-on” or “Wireless Premium Option” in the hope that you won’t notice it if you just quickly scan your statement.
If you come to the conclusion that there is a charge or debit that shouldn’t be there, your first step should be to try to contact the company that received your money for a little more information and to make sure that it wasn’t a legitimate charge.
If you determine that an unknown someone has used your account without your permission, you will need to get in touch with your bank or credit card issuer. They will initiate the process of shutting down your current card and getting you a new one. As long as you act quickly, in most cases you will not be liable for any of the charge.
And while it may not be environmentally perfect, we still recommend most people get their important statements physically mailed to their address.
We suggest this for two reasons. First, if you are getting your statement in the mail, you are being assured every month that those businesses still have your correct address and that nobody has gotten into your account and changed your address.
Second, not everyone is disciplined enough to log into their various accounts every month and check them. People are busy. People forget to do things. Getting your statement in the mail is an easy physical reminder to take a minute and look it over.