Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Always Reconcile Your Credit Card Statement!

Like many Westerners, we make most of our purchases throughout the month on our credit cards to earn points we can use towards vacations, etc.  It's a wise stewardship decision, as long-- and only if-- we pay our credit card statement in full every month.

Troubling Trends
We've noticed over the last couple of years a couple of trends that are very troubling:
  1. Almost every other month we find fraudulent charges on our statements.  These are not due to our carelessness; we are careful to only make online purchases on secure websites and we shred all of our receipts when we're done with them along with all other potential-identity-theft trash.  These fraudulent charges are usually for less than $10, so they'd be easy to miss (think the thieves are doing it that way on purpose?); it's rare to see one for more than $10.
  2. Merchants have begun asking if we want our receipt when we make purchases.  They're probably wanting to be ecologically sensitive or just trying to be courteous, but their question suggests that many say they don't want their receipt!  Without a receipt, how can one verify the charges on their monthly credit card statements?
If we didn't reconcile our monthly statements (the process of matching every charge on our statement with a receipt), we would throw a lot of money into theives' pockets-- money we are trying to manage well.  Is that what you're doing?

My Recommendation

I strongly recommend you get a receipt for every credit card and debit card purchase, and reconcile those receipts against your monthly statements.  Our family averages about 90 receipts per month, and reconciliation takes me 10-15 minutes.  If you make fewer purchases, it'll take you much less time.  And it will save you money when you catch those charges that are wrong or shouldn't be on your statement!

No comments: