Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sneaky Credit Card Charges

Credit card delinquencies have gone way down  to the levels of the 1990s.   Some younger consumers have forgone credit cards entirely (perhaps due to their already high levels of student loan debt).  For those using credit cards, though, the landscape remains buyer beware.  "Grey" charges of about $14.3 billion are attached to credit card statements for subscriptions and memberships with renewal charges.  A whopping 35% of credit card statements get hit with these annually.

So, whether debit or credit card, make sure that you review the statement for these charges.  With the Iphone and other Apple products having such popularity, there are plenty of subscriptions through Apple that are auto renew and tied to a card.  The Wall Street Journal today ran a piece about the difficulty that consumers encounter when trying to cancel renewable services (in that case, a security system).  In that case, the consumer was allegedly misled into signing a contract extension.  Sounds like a good case for a claim of fraud in the inducement perpaps?  Misrepresentation by the security tech? 

In the end, consumer vigilance is still the best tool.  Be proactive with your statements.  And, it is really easy to give your card number to less than scrupulous providers.   In the Internet world, it is easy to click on the terms and conditions (WSJ, Those Wordy Contracts).  But in many cases, consumers can prevent these debacles from ready what they sign and being careful about giving out their card numbers.

If there are charges that should not be there, it takes time to do battle on these, but contact the credit card company.

                                                                                                                                                  - JSM