Monday, November 7, 2011

When to Call your Credit Card Company

Remember that credit is money
- Benjamin Franklin
MSN Money suggests there are seven occasions when you should always call your credit card company.
  1. When a new card arrives - most cards require a phone call to activate a new card
  2. Unauthorized charge - if you see something on your credit card statement that does not make sense, call immediately. ALWAYS review your credit card statement line by line. You might have been enrolled in some monthly fee program by visiting a web site or responding to a text message on your phone. Or it could be fraud or identity theft. Years ago a restaurant changed the amount of the tip on my card to a higher value. That is illegal.
  3. Lost card - If you're not sure where your card is it's safer to have it canceled and a new card number assigned.
  4. Stolen card - call immediately to get the card canceled. File a police report and also notify the credit rating bureaus.
  5. Change of Address - don't make the mistake of letting your bank and card statements go to an old address and into someone else's hands.
  6. Missing credit card statement - if your monthly statement does not arrive on time, call. Someone can do a lot of damage if they steal your statement which contains card number, name, address, etc.
  7. Before a vacation or big purchase - companies monitor cards for unusual activity and may shut it down if they suspect fraud. We have a friend who now lives in Florida but rents out his prior home in New York. While visiting New York to make house repairs, his card company froze his account because of all the "unusual activity" in New York. Before I traveled to Canada this summer I called my credit card companies to warn them about my travel plans. (And to find out their money conversion fees.)
Bottom Line

Credit cards are great to have when used responsibly. Card rates are outrageous so this is not the best way to obtain a "loan" when you're short of cash. Never pay just the minimum suggested - pay more, pay it all if you can.

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