Are you paying for bogus fees and overage charges every month? Would you even realize if an additional fee slipped into your monthly budget? Recent news of popular bank J.P. Morgan & Chase’s (known as Chase Bank) court-ordered refund of a staggering $309 million to consumers should have us all running to check our monthly statements for hidden charges.
The banking company was ordered to pay $389 million in refunds and fees for bilking credit card customers with illegal and unapproved identity theft protection fees and unauthorized add-on services that customers didn’t ask for and didn’t approve.
This is a prime example of how lax financial practices can lead to you lining the pockets of corporations — while you scrimp to make ends meet or fund your dreams. Why should your hard-earned money wind up in the hands of someone who didn’t earn it or deserve it?
You lock the doors of your home to keep thieves from taking your possessions, but what are you doing to protect your money? Here are a few tips to help you keep your cash where it belongs — in your possession.
5 Tips for Protecting Your Money
1. ALWAYS read the fine print
I know it’s a pain to read what seem to be redundant monthly statements, but companies can sneak in an extra charge without you noticing. Read your statements carefully, and look for policy changes that could signal the need for action on your part — before a new fee’s instated.
2. Record everything
Keep a log or spreadsheet of reoccurring payments to quickly check for discrepancies. A spreadsheet allows you to sort data and easily focus on individual accounts.
3. Schedule time to review your accounts
If you make it a priority to check up on your accounts each month, you’ll catch problems and hidden fees before they suck up too much of your cash.
4. Be vigilant
The simple fact is your banking and credit card companies don’t care about your financial status or the dreams you have. They care about you making on-time payments and regular deposits, so they can make more money.
It’s a lot like a symbiotic relationship in nature. As long as both parties are participating, the relationship is profitable for both. But stop playing the watchdog, and your financial companies can quickly turn into parasites.
5. Speak up
If you don’t agree with a fee, tell your financial company about your displeasure and ask them to make it right. Be assertive and polite, but tell your bank you don’t agree with a charge and want it refunded. Don’t make keeping your money a negotiation process or a case of begging for favor. If you need help learning to be assertive with companies, Ramit Sethi provides detailed instructions on this practice in “I Will Teach to be Rich.”
What tips do you have for protecting your money from innocuous financial thieves? Have you had experiences with companies sneaking in extra charges and fees?