I think itâ€™s safe to say that all credit card charges are unwanted, but today Iâ€™m talking about so-called â€œgrey chargesâ€â€”those out-of-the-blue credit card charges that sneak up on us and require our time, attention, persistence and aggravation to get rid of. A study by BillGuard shows the average dollar amount lost by grey charges is around $356.00per consumer annually.
Studies show 1 in 4 people to be victims of grey charges, and because 9 out of 10 people donâ€™t even check their billing statements or only skim them lookingfor large purchases, those grey charges end up eclipsing fraudâ€”as much as 95 percent grey charges to only 5 percent actual fraud!
While fraud certainly is and will always be a hot-button topic that has consumers scrambling to protect their credit cards (which, in reality, canâ€™t completely be protected; all you can do is pay attention to your statements), grey charges have been absent on consumersâ€™ radars in part because the companies that profit from these charges donâ€™t want you to know about them. Fraud consists of 1 percent goods and services not delivered, 1 percent unauthorized charges and 3 percent â€œotherâ€ fraud, which often consists of hacking or unauthorized charges that occur after you hand your card over to a clerk.
Grey charges occur because 1 percent are billing errors, 2 percent are overcharges, 2 percent are duplicate charges, 4 percent are forgotten charges, 5 percent are hidden fees, 34 percent are just totally unrecognizable charges out of nowhere and a whopping 47 percent are unwanted subscriptions such as recurring memberships, â€œzombieâ€ subscriptions, unwanted auto-renewals, negative option marketing, and â€œfree to paidâ€ offers.
Hereâ€™s how to reduce your risk of grey charges and fraud:
- Always reconcile your bills diligently and on a timely basis
- Refute unauthorized charges immediatelyâ€”within one to two billing cycles
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card, as credit cards offer more consumer protection
- Use BillGuard to watch your back and protect you from grey charges
Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert & advisor to BillGuard and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knockâ€™em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.