What a week! I am on a massive quest to build my business and along with the traditional methods of calling people the old fashion way on the phone and building relationships…I am diving into the world of online marketing and such. I know it’s a little obvious that I’ve already started that by writing this blog after all, having a Facebook FanPage…and for those of you who have not found me on Facebook yet…you can do so by searching “Credit Gal of Colorado” or (click on the picture below) in which you will see my new green and orange logo! Yay! Diving into the world of Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn (which my links are on this blog page) is a bit confusing and overwhelming and then it hit me…that’s how many of you feel when it comes to the world of credit and simply managing the basics.
If you are one of those people who doesn’t have a handle on opening, reviewing and responding to your credit items, statements, and mail in general…then please read on.
I am sure there are things in your life that you do without question, do so as a habit and find it a simple routine that you wouldn’t think of not doing, well, that’s how I am with financial information, statements, bank accounts, etc.
So it’s all about building a routine, creating the habit and learning through repetition. Repetition is the key to learning and just know that the more you do it the easier it gets and the more comfortable you become.
So just to add some spice to the topic, let me share some horror stories with you.
- This person never opened their bank statements until one day they needed to look for something that they knew was being auto-drafted from their bank account monthly. They learned that a security company who told them 2 years prior that their home did not qualify for coverage, who by the way came and picked up their equipment and left them with no other options had been auto-drafting the monthly payment each and every month without fail!
- Another Jane Doe found that her $500 gift card (Yes, I said gift card) had been completely drained when she used it online to make a $7.00 purchase and did not read the fine print about an ongoing $97.00 monthly charge. (Read on for the clincher with gift cards)
- The last story I will share with you is one that truly breaks my heart because I had an elderly couple who carried a small term life insurance policy on each other to pay in case of their deaths. Once the wife passed away and the gentleman went to collect, he found that when they moved and changed banks, they never notified the insurance company and so their life insurance policy lapsed and was canceled.
The morale of these stories is that it takes the small action steps of opening your mail, reviewing it for not only things that shouldn’t be on it but also for the things that should be on it. Once you review your statements, you must then determine additional action needed.
GET THIS! In the case of story #1 where they had been paying for well over 2 years…the banks are only required to go back 60 days when you dispute it.
With regards to the GIFT CARD…You the consumer have NO recourse! WHAT? The FTC – Federal Trade Commission is in charge of consumer protection and someone please correct me if I am wrong but the rules are different when it comes to gift cards! Even though they may have the Visa or Mastercard logo on them, they are not treated the same as your credit cards and therefore you cannot go back 60 days to dispute an item. In fact, you don’t even get a statement on a gift card as it is your full responsibility to check the balance, terms & conditions and expiration dates. OUCH!
Make a commitment today to take the small action step of opening and reviewing your mail and your statements in particular. My personal habit is to open and check each entry including payments and deposits and then initial next to the balance to show it’s been reviewed. You can tell already that I have a bit of an analytic in me so I even check and run each card statements utilization ratio to ensure it is working for me and not against me (keeping it within 10%-30%).
If you have an issue with a gift card, here are your resources:
For cards issued by retailers, contact the Federal Trade Commission or call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP. Or you may file a complaint with your state Attorney General (for a list of state offices, visit naag.org).
For cards issued by national banks, contact the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) Customer Assistance Group by calling 800-613-6743 or sending an e-mail to:
firstname.lastname@example.org. The OCC charters, regulates and supervises national banks.