I’m pretty good at letting go of things I can’t control, but one financial transaction I conducted over the holidays still has me steamed and out of pocket. Luckily, it was this transaction that alerted me to a bit of unintentional funny business related to my holiday purchases.
A dear friend of mine lost her 13 year old dog in mid-December. Half Lab, half Chessie, this was no ordinary dog, my friends. This dog was epic in a way that for me to describe would require this to be a blog about dogs, rather than finances. Suffice it to say this guy survived a lightening strike that burned down his family home, and that’s just one of the 15 to 20 ways he cheated death in his time.
I felt like I needed to honor this dog in some way that was really special. After careful consideration, I found an online company that made really nice pet memorial ornaments of the non-cheesy variety. After making sure I was about to buy from a safe website, I uploaded of photo, chose the ornament, and made my purchase.
And I waited. And waited. And waited. The sale was applied to my account. I didn’t receive a confirmation. Emails to the company have yielded nothing. And 6 weeks after making this purchase, I still hadn’t honored my friend’s loss.
In the process of obtaining a refund I came across other not-so-awesome surprises: unauthorized and incorrect transactions totaling nearly $70. While none of these appears to have been deliberate, it was these discoveries that reminded me it’s a good time to audit the last expenses of 2010 to make sure they match up with my records. Not only will you catch unintentional losses, you’ll spot any identity theft related activity right away.
Why do this in January? Shopping more frequently, at more locations can increase your risk for identity theft, and December is a flurry of shopping. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or Festivus, December is the month we spend more money than any other time of year. With all the buying going on, it’s easy to see how we increase our risk and are susceptible to mistakes related to our purchases.
Where should I look? Did you shop online? Go back and review your order confirmations to make sure you were billed correctly. Check your receipts for the same. Review your December statements for checking, savings, and credit card accounts. This will also help you spot any transaction an identity thief may be using to ‘test’ whether or not you’re paying attention to your accounts.
What do I look for? Compare your receipts and confirmations with the actually charges to your accounts. Make sure than any post-holiday returns have been accurately credited. Any discrepancies should be investigated to determine whether it was merely an accident, or something fraudulent.
What if I find something odd? Report discrepancies to the merchant immediately. Do this in writing and keep records. If you continue to have difficulty with your dispute, file a complaint with the WA State Office of the Attorney General. If you suspect your identity has been stolen, you need to obtain free copies of your credit reports, and report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
Sorry, comments are closed for this article.