Those out-of-the-blue credit card charges that sneak up on us and require our time, attention, persistence and aggravation to squelch are called grey charges. Thanks to these insidious leaks, millions of people lose billions of dollars.
Sleazy, scheming merchants have perfected the art of the grey charge by capitalizing on the fact that we don’t payattention to the fine print and often do not pay much attention to our statements, either. But by being aware of these scammy sales techniques, you can prevent getting caught up in a vicious circle of grey charges.
Here are the top six sources of grey charges:
#1 Unknown subscriptions. In the process of checking outduring an online transaction, you might check or uncheck a box in regard to an offer or discount. Either way, a few months later you start getting all these charges for services you never wanted or ordered.
#2 Zombie subscriptions. After you recognize a grey charge for an unknown subscription, you might get the charge removed—only to find out months later it’s back from the dead and you’re being charged again.
#3 Auto-renewals. When signing up for a service that bills you monthly, quarterly or annually, a forthright retailer will let you know when your renewal date is coming and will inform you of upcoming charges. But shady companies don’t say a word and re-charge you without notification, sticking you with the bill even after you complain—all because you were “too late.”
#4 Negative-option marketing. When buying a product, you ultimately buy a suite of services you never wanted.
#5 Free to paid. When getting something “for free”and you have to cough up your credit card, there is always a catch. That catch is usually in the form of ongoing charges that are difficult to remove.
#6 Cost creep. The initial purchase price might have been $9.99 for the first three months, but then it becomes $19.99 a month thereafter. Then the merchant tacks on an annual $99.99 membership fee.Then you want to crawl through the phone and choke someone.
Stay out of trouble by keeping these tips in mind:
- Pay attention. Nothing is free.
- Monitor your purchases. Know what you’re getting into.
- Check statements biweekly. Look for grey charges
- Sign up for BillGuard to watch your statements. It’s free, easy and effective.
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 knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.