Your Credit Card Company Does Not Always Have Your Back with Unauthorized Charges
Dear Ross, my teenage son has a cell phone which I pay for, and also has a supplementary visa card from my bank. I am trying to teach him how to use such things responsibly, but it seems he “accidentally” subscribed to a premium service on his iPhone, and paid for it using our credit card. It’s for a game called Runescape; the monthly $7.95 charges on the visa are annoying me. He has so many gaming accounts, he does not know which one he used to sign up – bottom line is I can’t get rid of this thing. Any advice?
-Barry D. King City, Ontario.
Did you know that Visa will not investigate or remove charges which are under $10? They feel it’s not worth their while. Therefore if a consumer cannot get satisfaction from the supplier of the product or service, Visa will not back them up. But in Barry’s case, it’s around $95 per year he is being charged – it just happens to be in the form of monthly charges of $7.95.
This is also one reason why the criminal element who steal credit card numbers are just as likely to apply small charges under $10 to thousands of credit cards – it’s a pain to remove. More importantly, studies have shown people are far less likely to even notice a small charge like this than they would for a big ticket item.
When Barry checked his online Visa statements more carefully, he realized this bill had recurred for six months already.
What should you do if you see recurring small charges on your credit card statement that you did not authorize?
- Google the company name on the credit card charges and find their website.
- Contact them via billing support and try to cancel the service.
If you run into a brick wall, your best bet is to contact your visa and cancel your son’s credit card. They can issue a new card, but the recurring charge will not follow him.
While you are on the phone with Visa, explain your circumstances and why you are doing this. If you are a valued customer, they may even refund you a few monthly charges. Note this is an act of goodwill, and not as a result of an investigation – remember as the charge is under $10 they will not investigate.
Also, contact your cell phone company and make sure they put a complete block on all premium services on your son’s phone. This will ensure you don’t run into this kind of problem again.
You may as well tell your story to the phone representative – they may also surprise you and reverse a few charges too.
Once you’ve done all this, sit down with your son and show him the statements and explain the lengths you had to go to fix this mess. Make sure he understands how small actions can create big headaches, and that there are steps you have to take to solve everyday problems like this.