Lesson learned in credit card payments

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PHOENIX - A Valley woman says she's learned the hard way just how important it is to review your monthly credit card statements.

We're all supposed to do it, but many folks don't take the time to review their credit card statement.

Many of us just take out the statement, see how much we owe, and pay what we need to pay, but one West Valley woman who did that learned an important lesson.

Julie Cissne loves her dogs, but sometimes, these guys need medical attention.

"Being like children, they get sick and you need to take them to the vet and a lot of times you don't have the money," Juslie said.

So when Julie's in a pinch, she puts those vet bills and other charges on credit cards from a financial institution called GE Money Bank.

"They're good if you don't have the money at the time," she said.

But when Julie was reviewing her credit card statements recently she noticed something odd.

“I'd seen the payment and then the finance charges and we're always grumbling about the finance charges and then I saw account security and I said what in the world is that," she said.

Exactly what was account security and why was there a $27 charge for it?

Puzzled, Julie began looking at all of her statements and realized that "account security" was on her monthly statements dating back two years for a total of around $800.

“I'm like most people, I don't analyze my statements every month," Julie said.

GE Money Bank tells 3 On Your Side that "account security" is a service they offer to pay your credit card if you lose your income or become disabled.

But Julie claims she never signed up for that service.

For now Julie says she's kind of mad at herself for not catching the charges earlier and says it's a good lesson for everyone.

After 3 On Your Side’s involvement, GE Money Bank has agreed to credit Julie nearly a thousand dollars, a thousand bucks that was taken over the past two years or so for that account security service.

Apparently, Julie gave GE Money verbal authorization for that account security service and although Julie doesn't remember doing that, GE Money returned the money anyway.

Consumer Tips From GE Money Bank

First and foremost, review every billing statement carefully (even if no payment is required at the time) to ensure all charges are valid and that you are certain of the promotional end date and any minimum payment that may be required. It is also important to remember that making the minimum payment may not pay the balance in full by the promotional end date.
 
Other considerations:

1. Ensure you get a receipt for the transaction that shows what you purchased and that it is itemized (product/service, warranty or other programs, taxes, etc).

2. If you are applying for or using financing options through your retailer or provider, make sure you are provided with detailed terms in writing, and ask any questions while you are in the store or office.  Make sure you understand monthly payments, total cost of your purchase and any other additional fees, so you are clear about what you will be expected to pay and how you will go about paying it.

3. Read the purchase financing agreement or credit card terms. These agreements will disclose any service charges, fees or protection products and what they are for.

4. A credit card provides safeguards and protections, including a dispute resolution process outlined on every statement. Cardholders should contact their credit card company if there are any concerns or to initiate a dispute.