Keep track of your credit card payments

Start the habit now of keeping your receipts and checking your credit card statements for fraudulent charges.

A receipt is a document which acknowledges that money was received and an item provided for that payment.  When using a credit card, receipts can be a great way to make sure that all the purchases made with your credit card and in your name were purchases you approved.

With the theft of credit cards or credit card numbers, unscrupulous individuals can use your credit card account information to make their own purchases. These individuals, according to Michigan State University Extension, can be sneaky making small or infrequent purchases that you end up paying for.  This unauthorized use of your credit card is called credit card fraud.

To avoid paying for items you did not purchase, it is important to check your credit card statement each month to verify all of the charges are accurate.  The best way to do this is to make a habit of keeping all credit card receipts.  This can be done by immediately putting them in a pocket of a wallet after you make a purchase.  Once at home, you can store the receipts by putting them in a folder or envelope until the credit card bill is received.  Once the credit card bill arrives, it takes only a short amount of time to go through the statement and check off the receipts that you have in your possession.  If there is a purchase on the statement that you do not have a receipt for, it is important that you can account for what this purchase is and are completely confident you made it.

If it was a fraudulent purchase, you will need to contact your credit card company immediately.  Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, your liability for fraudulent charges tops at $50.  If your credit card number was stolen, but the card was not, you are not responsible for any unauthorized purchases.  A sample letter to send to creditors can also be found on the Federal Trade Commission website for use when dealing with credit card billing errors including fraudulent charges.  Keep all letters and documentation in relation to the fraudulent charge and the actions taken by both you and your credit card company in a file along with your credit card statements.

More information from MSU Extension on money management topics can be found on the 4-H Money Management website and on the MIMoneyHealth website.

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