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  • Felice Cohen

The Devil is in the Detail

Many of us today pay our bills automatically with a credit card because it saves time. No longer do we have to rip open envelopes, write out checks, lick stamps and drop them in a mailbox. Now we just get an email reading, “Invoice Paid.” And whether you open these emails, file them in corresponding folders or delete them is up to you. But be careful. While this process saves oodles of time, it could be costing you money.

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Case in point: my monthly cable bill is always the same. So when the payment email appeared in my Inbox last month and I saw that it was a lot more than usual, a red flag went up. Turns out the $5.99 monthly rental charge for my modem was still there despite the fact I returned said modem months ago when I bought one to avoid this fee. So why was it still there? According to customer service, “Oh, someone must have just missed that.” Missed it, eh? Easy for him, he’s not the one paying my bills.

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident.

Last week I received an office phone bill for $8.61. Not a lot, sure, except for the fact that I closed this account two months ago. Since the bill was paid automatically with a credit card, this could have easily gone unnoticed and the phone company would have continued to bill me month after month. As any credit card scam artist will tell you, $8.61 adds up quickly, which is how a lot of them make their money. They add these harmless amounts to your bills hoping you won’t notice them. Which most folks don’t notice, because they don’t look. So look.

Now when it comes to my credit card, I check it like a dermatologist doing a mole check on George Hamilton. Thoroughly. Which is how I found four false charges on my last bill for snowboarding gear totaling a whopping $1,400. In this day and age of credit card fraud and identity theft, we not only need to keep our finances safe from the petty scam artist, but the big guys too. But don’t take my word for it. Ask a Target customer.

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