I have written about the importance of protecting yourself against the companies that provide you financial services. There are few (if any) industries that as systemically try to trick and deceive customers out of large amounts of money as the financial services sector does. In addition to watching them, you it also makes sense to watch your credit card charges. For some reason attorneys general let large scale financial fraud go with much less policing than petty theft by juveniles (if some kids come in and take your TV they will be in trouble, if some large bank does the same thing to all of the household goods of many people that never even were their customers criminal charges are ignored for everyone involved – one of many such examples of bad decisions by attorneys general).
Because financial fraudsters are allowed to continue without much fear of prosecution: thousands, or tens or thousands, or hundreds of thousands and then maybe something will be done, of course that is a lot of people to suffer before action is taken. For that reason we are subject to long standing schemes to take money fraudulently go on for a long time. I wouldn’t even be surprised if most companies found to have taken money that isn’t theirs are left off when they refund money to those people that caught them and that is seen as ok.
Given this state of affairs, many have discovered just sending bills to people and companies and billing your credit card for things you didn’t order is a good way to steal money. Since law enforcement is extremely lax about stopping this. It is in your interest to protect yourself.
Bill Guard is a new service to watch your credit card charges and alert you to potentially fraudulent charges. It seems like a pretty good idea. Like Google flagging spam email for you. I really would think credit card companies should do this (they do but I guess not nearly well enough – no surprise there). I don’t so much love the idea of sharing credit card info with these people. And I don’t charge much so I can review my bill easily, myself. I can imagine lots of others though have difficulty remember every charge. If so, this may well be wise.
If you are as skeptical as me, you might think this is a sponsored post or something. Nope, I just read about this and it seemed like a good idea for some people, not me, but some others. Also it has positive externalities. If lots of people use this, fraudulent charges will become less appealing as a strategy for stealing money and drive down the prevalence of such activities in general. One of the segments of the population especially venerable to charges for services they didn’t order is the elderly (again why the attorneys general refuse to act more forcefully and let them suffer is a very sad situation) but this service could help them, and could help shut down those targeting them (even when that person doesn’t use this service).
Related: I Strongly Support Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – Banks Hoping they Paid Politicians Enough to Protect Billions in Excessive Fees (they didn’t – yay) – Tips for using your credit card
Why can a company tell you to hand over money you don’t owe under threat and for them just apologizing (after you spend lots of time and energy) is ok. But if some random person on the street does it that isn’t? I’ll even accept the argument that well occasionally mistakes will be made – fine if the company makes an rare mistake and responds reasonable to the person saying “I don’t owe you the money, don’t demand for what isn’t yours” and let it slide. Many companies seem pretty obviously to fraudulently demand what isn’t theirs and only if you waste your time fighting with them to they relent and allow you not to pay. And they are allowed to operate in this way very profitably.