Recently, a British Columbia resident discovered they had unknowingly been paying another person’s cell phone bill for five years. That’s the sort of false charge that could have been caught and stopped immediately by regularly monitoring transactions.
How false charges occur
False charges can arise in numerous ways. The bank or credit card company may make an error. You may sign up for a one-month trial subscription that automatically renews every month. A store may inadvertently charge you twice or fail to process a return.
Or perhaps you’re a victim of fraud. Scamming methods include phishing emails and phone calls, accessing data over public Wi-Fi, acquiring names and card numbers through a company data breach, and scanning a card’s magnetic stripe with a skimming device.
Unless you make it a habit, it’s easy to let up on checking your purchases. You should monitor your bank account transactions and credit card statements at least monthly. That includes statements for a credit card you only keep for emergencies. Some people prefer to check weekly if it’s onerous going through 30 days of transactions.
Note that sometimes a merchant’s name shows up that you don’t recognize because it’s the name of the merchant’s parent company. You can verify the associated purchase if you keep your receipts, record transactions or use an app that tracks purchases.
An additional way to monitor transactions is to sign up for alerts, which can help identify fraud. Some financial institutions allow you to receive text, email or app notifications when a credit card or debit card transaction is made on your account.