Saturday, September 08, 2012

Are You Paying Gray Credit Card Charges


Have you ever found a charge on your credit card statement for $30 or less said to yourself, I wonder what that charge was for? Well, you might have been a victim of hidden gray credit card charges. In some cases consumers are charged double fees but usually are charged a small monthly fee until the consumer cancels the fee. The FTC ordered almost $38 million in refunds last year for phony charges on consumer phone bills. The average consumer pays $300 a year in gray credit card charges.

Most consumers don’t review their monthly credit card statements carefully to scrutinize every charge which is a plus for companies that use gray credit card charges. Some of the most common gray credit card charges are: “free trial” fees which offer a service for a short-period of time usually 30 days or less. If the consumer does not cancel the free service a monthly fee will be charged to their credit card. Unknown service fees that might be added on to a purchase or subscription websites that provide fine print explaining their fees and cancellation policy but make the print so small it is difficult to read.

These are just a few of the tricks that credit card companies use to take advantage of consumers who don’t scrutinize their monthly credit card statements. Most consumers are not informed or don't realize that a monthly fee will be charged for free trial services. Here are 9 ways to prevent becoming a victim of gray credit card charges.

1. Read the fine print, frequently asked questions, terms and conditions and refund policy before making an online purchase.

2. Avoid signing up for free trials. If you do sign up cancel before the trial periods ends and verify the fee has been canceled.

3. Use a pre-paid credit card to prevent identify theft and unknown fees charged to your credit card.

4. Notify your credit card company of each gray credit card charge occurrence.

5. Contact the Federal Trade Commission about fraudulent charges, identity theft and sneaky marketing practices at or call 877-382-4357.

6. Verify if your purchase automatically activates a membership or subscription.

7. Get a magnifying glass or increase the font on your computer to help you read the small fine print.

8. If you are unsure or are in doubt, don’t buy the item. Purchase it on another website that doesn’t use gray credit card charges.

9. Avoid shopping at unknown or suspicious sites that do not have a VeriSign or other security logo or a https:// on the payment page to ensure your information is secure. If the company doesn’t have a detailed contact page with a valid phone number, email address and mailing address, don’t buy anything.


mackenzie said...

Great information. I remember when I got my first credit card and got my self into so much debt. I even had to call my dad's lawyer Francis S. Hallinan Esq for advice. I am so happy to be debt free, I will never let that happen again! A friend of mine is in debt right now, I will have to send this to her. Thanks for sharing!

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