Do you take a close look at all your bills and statements every month? Do you look at all the charges? Are you familiar with each charge—where, when and to whom? Do you recognize monthly recurring charges? Did you know that nine out of 10 people don’t check their bills, or merely skim them quickly for large purchases?

Did you know that by federal law, after 60 days if there is a fraudulent credit card charge or a “grey charge” that you didn’t authorize, you can be held liable and responsible for the charge? Did you know that by federal law it’s only two days where your bank’s debit card is concerned?

Did you know that your bank doesn’t protect you from all credit card fraud or from grey charges? Banks use so-called “anomaly detection software” to seek out charges that might not appear to make sense. For example, if you use your credit card at your local gas station at noon and then 10 minutes later your card’s information is used in Russia, your bank will see that as an anomaly and flag the charge. But banks don’t catch everything, which means that, at some point, you’ve probably paid for stuff you shouldn’t have.

BillGuard—a free service that harnesses our collective vigilance to protect everyone from deceptive and unwanted charges that result from misleading sales and billing practices, such as hidden charges, billing errors, and misleading subscriptions,—estimates the average consumer loses over $300 a year to unwanted charges he or she is not even aware of. Card fraud alone is an $8 billion-a-year crime, with banks catching only a third of it. The rest is up to us as consumers.In contrast BillGuard estimates that grey charges are a much higher dollar amount, simply on the basis that it impacts every consumer.

Every day, tens of thousands of people report bad charges on their credit and debit cards to their banks and merchants. Millions more post their complaints online. Up until now, all that knowledge hasn’t been benefiting the most important person of all—you.

Visit BillGuard and check out your statements online at least every two weeks.

Robert Siciliano is a fraud prevention and grey charge expert to BillGuard and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

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