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Beware of sneaky credit card charges

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Most of us are on alert for obvious fraudulent charges on our credits cards. But, what you are more likely to miss are what are called gray charges -- $5 here, $20 there – and it can go on and on.

If it's a recurring charge, it can go on for years. Sneaky companies take advantage of the fact that we're not always paying attention.  So the first rule is to stop.  Take a minute each month and look at your credit or debit card statements.  

And don't forget the online free-trial offers that cost you. You get charged if you don't return it in a certain time.  And often the clock starts ticking when you hit send, not when it arrives in the mail.

Auto-renewals are always tricky. If you've signed up for a membership like a gym or a magazine subscription, make sure you know that you can be billed automatically each year.

Then there are zombie subscriptions. These are subscriptions that keep coming back even though you have canceled them.

What do you when you catch it? Call the company immediately and demand it be removed and that you want to be credited for back charges. It's really recommended to make online purchases with a credit card so that you can dispute charges like this.  Getting money returned to a debit card is harder, but call the bank to report the overcharge to them as well.  

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